Businesses long closed after Sandy have finally reopened and hope to keep up community support
On Saturday, October 19, a block party was held to celebrate the re-opening of several restaurants and small businesses forced to stay closed for nearly a year after SuperStorm Sandy hit.
The celebration featured old-fashioned carnival games, bands, dancers, costume-clad actors, seafood, Sailors' Valentine demonstrations and more on traffic-free cobblestone streets.
Neighborhood favorites Keg 229, Bin 220, The Paris Café, and SUteiShi, officially re-opened for business over the weekend.
Peter O'Connell, owner of the Paris Café, said that business has been booming since they reopened last Thursday night, and that it has been almost entirely community support.
"Since the Seaport is closed, we know that these are all locals that have been coming out to support us," said O'Connell. "Now, we just need the city to finish up construction work on the Piazza, but that's going to be at least another year."
The celebration came two days after ground was broken on the new Pier 17 Mall, under construction by the Howard Hughes Corporation. On Friday, Howard Hughes made a $60,000 pledge to the Old Seaport Alliance, a nonprofit merchants' association founded in the wake of Hurricane Sandy by the business owners within the historic South Street Seaport neighborhood.
"We just received support from Howard Hughes, that was a surprise," said Council Member Margaret Chin. "We're happy, because we want to be able to support the small business fighting to come back from the storm last year."
With help from the Mayor's Office of the City of New York, the Downtown Alliance and the New York City Department of Small Business Services, the Old Seaport Alliance hopes to promote local businesses and enrich the community through increased programming of the public spaces with events, markets and more. Additionally, the Downtown Alliance has created a program to help brand the district and accurately represent the authenticity and vitality of the 12-block-district.
Amanda Byron, owner of the Salty Paw at 38 Peck Slip, said that re-opening felt like running a marathon and coming in first place.
"It's amazing to finally cross the finish line and get things up and running. The Old Seaport Alliance is a good thing created out of a very bad situation, and will hopefully help put the Old Seaport back on the map," she said. "We hope to make this a place people would like to come to, like the Meatpacking District or Tribeca."