The Barstool Fund - Portobello Restaurant

Up next: Portobello Restaurant (Staten Island, NY)

Portobello Cafe is a Staten Island favorite where there's always something happening. Whether you're ordering for lunch or dinner, or you're celebrating a special occasion, hosting an intimate dinner party or having an important corporate event, there's something for everyone.



Reader Email

Hi guys,
My name is Adam Lener I’m the owner of Portobello Cafe in Staten Island. First off whether you help me or not i would like to say thank you for helping all the small businesses that are struggling. 

A bit about my restaurant I have been in business going on 25 years now and the past 2 years have been the hardest I have ever experienced. Up until 2019 my company was doing great until the NYS started a roadway project on hylan blvd where my restaurant is located because of that project my business went down 85% because you couldn’t get to my restaurant. This project finally ended December 2019. During the time in which the construction was going on I tried to get help from every local politician but was unsuccessful. I spent $400,000 to keep my restaurant going. During this time I didn’t lay off a single employee as the owner it’s my responsibility to keep the guests coming in and it wouldn’t be right to let my staff go that have families that rely on them. 

Unfortunately in October I had to have back surgery and when I woke up from it I was in worse shape than I was in before I went for surgery. The surgery left me with neuropathy in both my legs and feet so i started to work from home because wasn’t able to walk well or stand for longer than a few minutes. With the construction finally ending in December I started advertising to let guests know that the construction was finally over and we started to see some activity towards the holidays and New Years. Then not long after New Years I was rushed to hospital as if my life wasn’t crazy enough I contracted a gangrene flesh eating bacteria in my groin that almost killed me. I spent the next 2 months in the hospital having 5 surgeries to remove the infected area. 

During that time I continued to run advertisements and incentives from  my hospital bed. Thank god I came home at the end of February and of coarse within a couple of weeks we were shut down due to the pandemic. With that I amped up my advertising for curb side pick up and delivery. I also started selling my sauces and vinaigrette’s by the bottle as well creating different price fixed meals for each day of the week. 

After a month of being shut down I figured this was going to go on for a while so I sourced 2 bakers pride pizza ovens and I turned my small dining room into a pizza kitchen. I figured adding pizza to my menu to go that would help close the gap for the revenue I was loosing because my dining room was closed. I had to figure out how to keep my staff working. I even ran a special where clients could donate $200 to the restaurant and we would provide meals to first responders of there choice in there name. We presented the first responders a certificate that let them know who Donated the meals to them. 

Sorry for being all over the road. Since then I have started a Mexican concept added to my restaurants menu.  I have tried everything to keep my restaurant going but now with loosing indoor dining again and the winter coming I don’t know if I’m going to make it till March. I know you guys have a ton of businesses that need help I’d like to thank you for taking the time to listen to my story. Again thank you for reading my story 

Adam Lener