NEW YORK — Manager Margarita Morillo and server Ivan Prado-Stevens have both worked at Havana Central Restaurant and Bar in Times Square for a long time.

What You Need To Know

  • Two longtime employees at a restaurant in Times Square told NY1 that the neighborhood has completely changed since the pandemic began and they no longer feel safe coming to and from work

  • The employees said that unsavory characters have moved into the neighborhood and have contributed to making it feel less safe

  • NYPD data on crimes reported in the Midtown South Precinct, which includes Times Square and several other tourist locations, show a significant increase in robberies and felonious assaults

Morillo has worked at the restaurant for 15 years and Prado-Stevens for 14 years.

Both told NY1 that they’ve stayed at the restaurant all that time because they love the atmosphere of the area.

They love all of the tourists and being so close to all the Broadway shows.

However, they also said that in the last year the neighborhood has completely changed.

They both said that for the first time in more than a decade, they worry about their safety when coming to and from work.

“It’s a little more dangerous, yes,” said Morillo. “Before you felt safer but now it’s not safe.”

“I’m very scared every night when I finish and I’m going home,” Prado-Stevens said. “I live in Queens.”

So, when three innocent bystanders were shot in broad daylight in Times Square over the weekend, they had a reaction that was different than most.

“I’m not surprised because I saw it every day. Every night when I finish work - different people, strange people, not acting very good, selling drugs,” Prado-Stevens said, of the people that replaced the tourists and Broadway patrons during the pandemic.

NYPD statistics seem to substantiate their concerns.

The area of Times Square falls under the Midtown South precinct.

Also covered by the precinct are Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station, Madison Square Garden and Koreatown.

According to NYPD data listed on the website for the Midtown South Precinct, robberies are up 600% when comparing 2020 stats versus those in 2021 for the time period between January 1 and May 2.

Felonious assaults, which include shootings and stabbings, are also up 200% for the same time period.

NY1 broke down the data even further and only counted the number of robberies and felonious assaults documented between the area of 8th Avenue and Broadway, and 7th Avenue between West 45th Street and West 40th Street.

Comparing data from 2020 to 2021, also during the period between January 1 and May 2, NY1 found that felonious assaults were up more than 50% and robberies are up more than 36%.

Morillo and Prado-Stevens said that they are at a loss for how to fix the problem.

They could only suggest that more police be added to the area.

They just hope that things will get better with time.

“It’s a little difficult and different. It’s a challenge right now,” Morillo said.