Red Hook’s massive Fairway Market opened its doors last Friday for the first time since Hurricane Sandy, spurring jubilation throughout the waterfront neighborhood.
The Oct. 29 super storm demolished the neighborhood’s culinary anchor at the foot of Van Brunt Street with a vicious five-foot surge that toppled shelves and ruined thousands of pounds of equipment and display cases, refrigerators, and cash registers.
The inundated store had to be gutted and rebuilt, but after more than four months and $10 million the gourmet outlet has returned with wider aisles, a larger bakery section, and a new cafe with waterfront views.
“Today Red Hook is back in action,” said Mayor Bloomberg, who commended the store for shifting its 350 Red Hook workers to other Fairway locations instead of cutting them loose when the store was closed.
The grand reopening ceremony, held in the store’s parking lot, drew hundreds of shoppers, hungry residents, luminaries including newly crowned Miss America Mallory Hagan, and dignitaries such as Borough President Markowitz and Sen. Charles Schumer (D–Park Slope) — both avid Fairway shoppers.
Eager Fairway customers filled their carts with long-awaited organic produce, artisan cheeses, prime meats, and imported olive oils within minutes of the stores 11 am reopening.
“It’s like home. This is an indescribably special place,” said shopper Roslyn Bacon, who teared up while speaking about the grocery store. “It’s good to be back.”
Fairway’s reopening is more than just the reopening of a store, said Fairway vice chair Howie Glickberg, who opened the Red Hook outpost in 2006 inside a Civil War-era warehouse.
“It’s about Red Hook. It’s about Van Brunt Street, and it’s about New York. We’re all going to make it back and we’re all going to be better than we were before,” he said, adding that the store is taking donations for Restore Red Hook, an organization helping the neighborhood’s Sandy-slammed small businesses, and will match the donations once the sum hits $20,000.
Fairway’s return wasn’t the only good news for Red Hook last Friday — the storm-struck Red Hook Winery and the Red Hook Lobster Pound also opened for business for the first time since the waters rose.
Winery owner Mark Synder can’t produce anything in his Van Dyke Street facility, but he is selling his bottles again — and that wouldn’t be possible without the help he received from the tight-knit community.
“We really are pretty thrilled to get back to business even though it’s not in full operation — it’s a great stepping stone for us,” said Synder, who suffered more than $1-million in damages during the storm.
Susan Povich, co-owner of the famous Van Brunt Street seafood joint, is happy to be back after losing more than $50,000 worth of lobster and kitchen equipment.
“I’m filled with crustacean elation today,” said Povich. “It’s been exhausting and emotionally draining, but we’re strong people and we’re going to do great.”Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@