Ron Silver didn't really plan on running the most popular brunch spot in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city. Back in 1990, when Bubby's first opened as a rogue pop-up on the still semi-desolate corner of Hudson and North Moore streets, Silver just wanted to bake a bunch of pie.

But Silver's pies were delicious, some of the best in the city, as was most everything else he's added to menu over the past thirty years, American classics like pancakes and biscuits, burgers, and fried chicken. And, like SoHo before it, Tribeca evolved from a mostly ignored artist's enclave to envied luxury zip code. So here we are. Or rather, here we were, back in early March before the coronavirus tore through town.

Bubby's has been hit hard by the pandemic. "It has deeply affected our staff in many ways," Silver told Gothamist. "A few weeks ago, Bubby’s lost our sous chef and friend, Eduardo Martinez, after a long, brave battle with COVID-19."

People outside of Bubby's without masks on

Mostly unmasked patrons outside of Bubby's, May 2020. To prevent the further spread of COVID-19, you should wear a mask in a setting like this.

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Mostly unmasked patrons outside of Bubby's, May 2020. To prevent the further spread of COVID-19, you should wear a mask in a setting like this.
Scott Lynch / Gothamist

After shutting down completely on March 16th, last weekend Silver and his crew took their first steps toward feeding people again, reopening the Tribeca restaurant for takeout and delivery (the High Line outpost remains closed for now).

"While the coming weeks and months won’t even be close to normal, I’m hopeful that we can get Bubby’s back into motion and reconnect with the community," said Silver. "The city was in a very different place two months ago. Of course it has still not fully recovered but we’ve all had time to reset, process what’s happening, and take care of ourselves. By reopening even just for takeout, we are hoping to provide the neighborhood with the same friendly, welcoming spot they’ve always relied on. Hopefully our food will provide some type of comfort."

Blueberry James Beard Pancakes ($21)

Blueberry James Beard Pancakes ($21)

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Blueberry James Beard Pancakes ($21)
Scott Lynch / Gothamist

I went to Bubby's over the weekend to pick up an overly abundant to-go spread — I ordered at the counter, but you can call ahead — and it definitely delivered on that hope for comfort. The James Beard Pancakes, for example, were blissfully transportive to brunches of pre-pandemic yore, a trio of wide, fluffy discs holding their own under a deluge of tart blueberry sauce and maple syrup. I probably didn't take a bite of these beauties until a half hour after the masked-up employee handed me my bag back on North Moore Street, but they exhibited no signs of fatigue.

The Bubby's Burger with cheddar was also excellent, still warm, juicy, and perfectly medium rare even after sitting for a while before I could unwrap it and dig in. Takeout fries are never as good as a freshly plated pile but again, for me, some of the appeal of eating food from familiar places like Bubby's these days lies in the adventure of biking there, and saying hello, and supporting a venerable business the city would be poorer without. This was my first cheeseburger with fries platter in more than two months, and it felt really good.

The Fried Chicken Lunch was also satisfying, and featured one of Bubby's top-of-the-line biscuits. For dessert, a slice of Peanut Butter Chocolate (like eating a candy bar!), a slice of Cherry (nice and tangy), and a slice of Apple (just fine).

The nice thing about Tribeca right now is how empty it is, so finding a place to sit and eat comfortably distanced from passersby was relatively easy. Bubby's had to-go cocktails available, as well.

Last year, after a $2 million "under-the-hood" renovation to help better serve the crowds, Silver signed a 20-year lease on his Tribeca place, so he's not going away anytime soon. "We are committed to Bubby’s and this community," he said. "We’ve been through a lot since 1990, including 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and other economic downturns, and although nothing has been as devastating as this, I am hopeful that with the right support and guidance from the government, Bubby’s will weather the storm."

"We all have a lot of work cut out for us," he added, "but the Bubby’s crew is strong and flexible, we like making good food and nourishing our community, and I will do whatever I can to continue doing this and help rebuild our city."

Bubby's is located at 120 Hudson St; (212) 219-0666; bubbys.com