B&H Dairy, which hasn’t had gas since the East Village explosion almost two weeks ago, had hoped to reopen today, but now its owner tells us it might not happen till next week. With the fate of that and other Second Avenue businesses hanging in the balance, fundraising and relief efforts have redoubled in the East Village.
Today B&H’s owner, Fawzy Abdelwahad — with the help of the East Village Community Coalition, Fourth Arts Block and miLES — launched an online fundraiser that aims to net $20,000. That would cover a couple of months of operating expenses, according to what Abdelwahad told us last week. “We need it,” he said today. “Right now we’ve got no funds from nowhere. It’s a very difficult time for us and also for the employees who have families to support.”
After our initial post about B&H’s plight, the city’s Department of Small Business Services asked us for Abdelwahad’s contact information. He now says “everybody is trying to help and resolve the issue,” but neither Con Ed nor the city have given him a timeline regarding restoration of gas to his building at 127 Second Avenue, just a couple doors down from the three buildings that were leveled in the March 26 explosion. It’s likely the 73-year-old diner will have to sit out Saturday’s cash crawl aimed at helping Second Avenue businesses, Abdelwahad said.
Meanwhile, things are looking better for Enz’s, the rockabilly boutique that was forced to close when its building next to B&H caught fire. A week ago, owner Mariann Marlowe (the beneficiary of an online fundraiser that has raised nearly $10,000) told us she wanted help setting up a pop-up store, and now miLES has done just that. The week-long pop-up opened today at 103 Allen Street. That storefront will also serve as a free coworking space for businesses and individuals displaced by the fire. The workspace — open through April 9 and then again April 13-16 and April 20-23 if need be — is equipped with wifi, a bathroom, a phone booth, tables, chairs and a printer.
MiLES isn’t the only local business lending a hand. East Yoga, which was temporarily felled by fire in 2012, is offering five-day class passes to those displaced by the explosion. “We know, from experience, how traumatic a fire can be,” went a message to the yoga studio’s mailing list. “After the fire at our former location, kind neighbors, strangers, and friends took us in and held space for us. We would would like return the favor by offering a place to turn for some peace and quiet.”
Many other businesses have contributed items to a silent auction taking place tonight during a fundraiser at Parkside Lounge. And on Sunday, Penny Arcade will lead a community rally to be followed by a fundraising gala at Theatre 80.
Ironically, another fundraiser for fire victims was cancelled because its planned location, Jimmy’s No. 43, remains closed along with upstairs bars Standings and Burp Castle. “We’re doing clean-up today!” read a tweet from Jimmy’s yesterday. “Hope to have an announcement about opening soon.”
Despite relief efforts, businesses in the area tell us they’re still struggling. Michael Schumacher, owner of New Yorkers Food Market said business was down 60 percent at his supermarket a block from the blast site.
Watch the above video for a special report from Second Avenue.
Video by Yumna Patel with Alex Mitchell and Sharon Bernard.