East Village residents were relieved to see that B&H Dairy, a fixture of the neighborhood, reopened this morning after being closed for several months because of the Second Avenue gas explosion. They crowded into the narrow diner, happy to once again sit down to a plate of the 76-year-old vegetarian restaurant’s Eastern European comfort food.
“It’s amazing. What a feeling!” said Fawzy Abdelwahed, who took ownership of B&H in 2003. Fans of the restaurant will be happy to know that the classic menu and interior were left exactly the same. “To me it’s like a restaurant and a museum,” Abdelwahed said. “The East Village lately has changed a lot, so it’s nice to see old places remain.”
East Village resident Vincent Doogan has been coming to B&H since 1973 and gets takeout from the restaurant about five times a week; as soon as he walked in the door the waiter waved and began cooking his usual scrambled eggs and cheese (he also likes the soups and cheese blintzes and says the challah bread is the best around).
It was mainly repairs to the gas lines that prevented the restaurant from opening until now, Abdelwahed said, adding that there were times when he thought he would never be able to afford to reopen. He estimated it cost upwards of $50,000 to make the necessary repairs, $30,000 of which was covered thanks to the fundraising efforts of B&H’s loyal customers, who turned out in droves today. He also wanted to give thanks to NYC Small Business Services for helping expedite the Department of Buildings inspection so they could open sooner.