May 2020 - ciaooo!

Last year over 47% of unarmed people killed by the 100 largest city police departments were black. These police departments killed unarmed black people at a rate 4 times higher than unarmed white people. In New York City, the NYPD came under fire for deliberately telling their officers to go after more, “blacks and latinos”. 

As we spiral deeper into the shitshow that is 2020, the racist murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery have proven that not much has changed since…well..ever. Every few months there’s another senseless act. A show of arms in defiance until the next Tiger King wipes our memory and it happens again. 

What do we think needs to happen? 

Seats have to be made for POC. Politics. Media. Big Business. Banking. Push to get into those writer’s rooms and tell the stories on the big and small screen. Push to mentor youths in your community. Push to have conversations with your friends and family about what’s going on. Real vulnerable conversations. Push to rise up the ranks of your company and hire more diverse people to leadership roles. If you can equate that diverse leadership in your company is equal to more $$$ for the business, that’s when the change will come. 

What can you do?
We suggest looking into history to see why we are still in this situation. We recommend watching“Mr. Civil Rights: The Rise and Fall of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr” – the first man of African American heritage who was elected to congress. As a man of mixed European and African heritage, Powell was able to pass off white and used this to his advantage. He was able to pass over 49 pieces of legislation to promote rights for African Americans including outlawing lynching and the poll tax. He famously brought black constituents to dine with him in the “Whites Only” House restaurant.  

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

The Innocence Files, Netflix 


NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Last month we hosted two panels discussing Asian Americans and racism amidst the Coronavirus. What stood out most to us, was that change can not just come from one race – you must have advocates amongst different groups speak up for you. 

Last but not least, we want to hear from you what you think needs to be done. This is a part of an ongoing article where we will be updating with more voices from you. Please let us know if you or a friend would like to be featured. 

team ciaooo

ciaooo! is an NYC based editorial site, newsletter, and events company. We're the local's guide to conquering NYC. Follow us on Instagram @ciaooomag for the latest. Nice to see you here!

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Summer is right around the corner and many New Yorkers are wondering how this summer will pan out. 

Just when we thought that #hotgirlsummer2020 was canceled, hope is on the horizon! With the number of ICU patients trending at 391, NYC continues to inch towards Phase 1 of reopening. Mayor DeBlasio and the tristate area allies have announced that they are in the work to reopen the city by June 8th and beaches by mid-June!  

Ohhh Yeahh! 🤙

In other words, that fun in the sun can still happen but according to the new rules;  You’ll just have to be 6 ft apart from your pals, wear a face mask, you can only dip your feet up to your ankles and you have to keep it moving. Certainly, those limitations make going to the beach sound more work than it’s worth. 

Council members along with NYC Hospitality Alliance, NYS Latino Restaurants, Bars, & Lounges Association and restaurant owners also announced that they are in the works of legislation that can benefit restaurants across all five boroughs by allowing them to serve more people outside. 

“Expanding outdoor dining space will not only help these restaurants thrive financially but give our City a sense of normalcy. The restaurant industry is a huge part of New York City. No matter where you live, you love your local restaurants. This legislation will help give all New Yorkers better access to enjoy and support their local restaurants,” said council member Corey Johnson.

While there are still some fears that the city might not be able to handle 50% capacity (phase 1) of it opening back up, I do take comfort in knowing that NYC has made it through several epidemics before (Yellow Fever, Cholera, Influenza, and Ebola). What has been proven time and time again is that cases will reemerge until a vaccine is created. However, the city has always found a way to revert its state of chaos to a more progressive phase for its residents. 

Currently, the city has launched its first pilot test of Ultraviolet-c disinfecting units in trains, buses, stations and occupational facilities across the NYC transit. This new technology of UV unit’s been proven to kill COVID-19! 

MTA New York City Transit

“This is a first of its kind pilot when it comes to transportation agencies around the world and we are proud to be a part of it. For nearly three months, the MTA has worked relentlessly to disinfect our entire fleet of subways and buses but we’ve always promised that we would explore any and all new approaches available to us as well. The launch of this UVC pilot represents a promising next step in our ongoing efforts to identify technologies that can keep our customers and employees as safe as possible.”

MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye

This will take time. As city officials and our esteemed essential workers continue to be hard at work to give us back some sense of normalcy, it comes back to us as residents of this city to continue to stay united, patient, and supportive so we can get through this!  #nycwegohard, amirite 🙌  Besides, maybe a mask tan might not look too bad.

team ciaooo

ciaooo! is an NYC based editorial site, newsletter, and events company. We're the local's guide to conquering NYC. Follow us on Instagram @ciaooomag for the latest. Nice to see you here!

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If someone had approached me a year ago and said, “Listen up, there’s going to be a huge pandemic. People will go crazy for toilet paper, you will learn how to make a sourdough starter and social media will be more secure than the oil industry.” I’d probably have said, “Go home bro, you’re drunk”.

While the economy is on shaky ground, social media use is on the rise. With a 20% spike in Instagram and a 30% increase in TikTok use since isolation, social media has become the keystone of communication and for individuals and business owners. It’s time to consider how you can make social media work for you. Whether you sell fidget spinners or own a coffee shop, I’m here to share all the tricks I’ve learned to help boost your business using Instagram.

Find Inspiration

When you started your business, I bet you had a brand you looked up to. Maybe it was Apple or Glossier, whoever it was, finding inspiration through other social media accounts is crucial to knowing what you want to achieve online (and no – you can’t aspire to be like someone just because they have a lot of followers). Make a saved folder of accounts you like and reflect on the similarities between them. Are they bold? Are they using a tone of voice you like? What connects them? Write that down.


Some clients (especially the cool ones) fear posting too much or looking spammy. I get it man, but here’s the thing, the Instagram algorithm can be a little bitch sometimes. You heard me. The only thing we know for sure is that you’ll be rewarded for regular activity on your feed. If you post regularly and consistently you have a better chance of being seen by your followers. This is a good thing if you’re selling anything online, or just want to be the first place they visit when you open your doors again. Stay active!

Assess Your Analytics

Instagram analytics are basic but important. If you haven’t already, check them regularly. Make a report of your best-performing posts each week. Numbers are your friend here, and I’m not just talking about likes, shares, reach, and followers gained per post are all good to keep track of. Reflect on the numbers daily and ask why some posts perform better than others. If you had a bad week with low numbers, don’t stress – compare it to a week when you had better activity. Ask yourself, what’s different? Take a look at your locations too. If you’re a New York coffee shop but New York is coming up second on your follower locations, why is that? Could you pay more attention to your local audience? Use local hashtags? Engage with other local businesses? Know your data!

Show Your Personality

Do me a favor and check out the TSA on Instagram. Yes, the TSA. Why do you think 1 million people follow the TSA? Did Kim Kardashian endorse them or are we all just really into onboard liquid measurements? Believe it or not, the airport’s least entertaining department has become one of Instagram’s most entertaining accounts. The TSA is proof that no matter how dull or unlikable a business can be (I’ll never forgive them for confiscating my face cream), with the right account, tone of voice, and sense of humor you can appeal to everyone. I mean, come on – The TSA?

Think about your company culture. Does this shine through in your online personality? Could you do more? Could you share a little bit about Troy and his need to fold napkins a certain way or congratulate Kathy on making WFH playlists for everyone from her apartment in Bedstuy? Business is built on people, and at a time like this it’s time to show that!

Get to know your Followers

Find ways to reward your followers for interacting with you on a daily basis. Maybe it’s answering DMs from customers or liking their posts. Comment with your appreciation on posts they tag you in, be personal, and don’t leave them on read. Sign off with the name of the business owner or social media manager. Don’t just restrict your communication to followers, speak to the businesses who follow you. Reach out and show some support! Make those online connections something to look forward to when you log in each day. Who knows, maybe their followers will become yours someday.

With nobody going out, our screens have become a window to the outside world. If social media has never been your thing before, now is the time to use it to keep your business alive. It’s possible to grow your business online, it’s possible to create an empire with your fingertips and it’s possible that we’ll be in line after lockdown to visit YOUR business – thanks to the hot IG account we’ve been watching throughout quarantine. 

Kristina Ross

This article was written by Kristina Ross, an editor and social media strategist who's clients include @bodegacatsofinstagram, @thefabstory, and @flatbushcats. She built @thefabstory to an audience of 1 million in 18 months and offers services to help other businesses do the same. A Filipino/Scottish girl who’s indulged at every slice joint in the Lower East Side, she’s offered to lend us her insights on how your business can make the most of social media during the lockdown.

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All citizens are equal but some citizens are more equal than others
A new lawsuit is taking the US to court over the denial of the Stimulus Check to US citizens.

The denial attacks two separate groups:

  1. US Citizens that are married to undocumented residents
  2. US-born children with either one or both undocumented parents.

But. why?
Payments are only eligible for those who filed tax returns using, a social security number—applicable only to U.S. citizens and immigrants with work authorization. In New York City, over 1 million people live in mixed-status households, where a household member is undocumented. 

Do undocumented workers pay taxes tho???
Although undocumented residents don’t file their taxes using a social security number (well, they don’t have one), they DO file with their individual taxpayer identification number or ITIN.

Undocumented New Yorkers contribute over $1 BILLION dollars in state and local taxes every year and to deny their American born children the funds is well, straight-up unconstitutional. 

“The refusal to distribute this benefit to U.S. citizen children… punishes citizen children for their parents’ status — punishment that is particularly nonsensical given that undocumented immigrants, collectively, pay billions of dollars each year in taxes”

This reminds me of the episode from the show, “Orange Is The New Black” “God bless America” when they had the kids in court because they were prosecuting them. The children can’t request the funds. These families are the most vulnerable. The parents can’t file for unemployment because of their status. The industries that predominantly hire undocumented workers (restaurant, construction, etc) have been depleted due to the pandemic. It’s a mess.

Given the circumstances that the economy is facing, is it fair that children be refused the aid that every American is entitled to? 

team ciaooo

ciaooo! is an NYC based editorial site, newsletter, and events company. We're the local's guide to conquering NYC. Follow us on Instagram @ciaooomag for the latest. Nice to see you here!

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This month, we partnered with WhatToOrder to highlight 3 businesses that are giving back to their communities. ⁠Despite an indefinite future, small business owners are shouldering the responsibility of feeding their neighbors. We wanted to highlight these modern-day heroes. Here are their stories. You can donate to Cachapas Y Mas Gofundme HERE to feed frontline workers.

This is the story of Cachapas y Mas, a family-run Venezuelan eatery whose claim to fame is drool-worthy, cheesy Patacons, and authentic Venezuelan street food.

A quick look at their Instagram (which boasts over 40K fans) and you’ll treat yourself to a visual rolodex of crispy buns made of fried plantains, burritos called Tacuchos with juicy, sloooow-roasted pork, and sweet corn pancakes drizzled in generous pours of Venezuelan green and white sauces.

Inspired by street vendors of Indio Marie in Venezuela, the quick eats were served as breakfast and late dinner and prior to our story, nearly non-existent in NYC, but more on that later.

The stuff your dreams are made of

Our story starts off like the plot of a 1990’s Disney family film with a wacky, loveable mad-genius dad.

Started by a former cabbie, Venezuelan American Larry Villalobos spontaneously purchased a food truck in 2015 when he saw the “For Sale” sign at a parking lot in Washington Heights. Before making the big decision, Larry had never even mentioned the truck to his family. “He didn’t want to be a cab driver all his life. I think when he saw that truck for sale, it all clicked”.

Ivette Villalobos is Larry’s daughter and today helps oversees the three establishments. She was 15 when her dad came home and announced his plan to start a food truck.

“My dad came home one day and told us he had sold the car, sold the radio, and bought a food truck. It didn’t even drive. We thought he had gone crazy.”

Ivette Villalobos, Daughter

The purchase turned into a family-run affair, with mom, Jackie, daughter Ivette, and son, Jesus, cooking up arepas, patacons (Green Plantain sandwiches), and other traditional Venezuelan street foods, inspired by their hometown of Maracaibo. Their namesake, Cachapas means “Crumpet” in Spanish and is a corn pancake traditionally served with melted cheese and sold at street stands.

⁠The first night, they opened up outside of a nightclub called UMBRELLA, serving up the goods as late-night drunk munchies. Within a week, the food truck had a line down the block.

The original Food truck

For over two years, the food truck became a neighborhood staple, offering up Venezuelan bites to the community. “We were one of the first people to bring Venezuelan food to Washington Heights. In the beginning, people were like, “What’s this?” and now we’ve become somewhat of a home in NYC for Venezuelans. It feels great to share a piece of home for the Venezuelan community”. Today, their clientele has expanded to foodies from all over the world who had their first taste of Venezuelan cuisine at Cachapas Y Mas.

Ivette (center) with brother Jose (L) and husband Nate (R) in front of the original truck

Since launch, Cachapas y Mas has expanded from one singular food truck to 3 restaurants across Ridgewood, Queens, Inwood, Manhattan, and Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The key to their success Ivette claims, has been due to their core value of making people always feel at home. Larry is a consistent sight at the restaurants, offering up samples and chatting with the diners.

“If you make people feel like they’re eating at home, at your dinner table, that can mean more than how good your food is. So, make them feel at home”

Larry Villalobos, Founder of Cachapas y Mas
Jackie Villalobos in the kitchen

When Governor Cuomo first announced the mandatory shutdown of restaurants, the family stood still for a week. They got together to brainstorm the future of the business and decided they were going to reopen to feed the community who had supported them for so long.

They started off by driving to local hospitals and shelters to see where and how they could donate meals and quickly learned the difficulties in getting in touch with the right contact and navigating company policies. Since then, they’ve partnered with @hungrymonknyc to feed hospitals, food shelters, and churches within the community, serving up over 100 meals a day. They’ve also been able to keep two of their locations open and been able to keep all of their employees still working. The lines it seems, are still down the block (with social distancing of course).

“We’ve seen such an outpouring of support from our community. We are so grateful. In the meantime, we will continue doing what we can to remain open and give back.”

You can support by donating via the gofundme link in bio and by following/sharing @cachapasymas with friends.

Let us know of any other restaurants you think we should feature! Download to find other NYC small businesses you can support! #whattoordernyc

team ciaooo

ciaooo! is an NYC based editorial site, newsletter, and events company. We're the local's guide to conquering NYC. Follow us on Instagram @ciaooomag for the latest. Nice to see you here!

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