Seaport Merchants Unite for a Comeback One Year After Sandy

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Barbalu on Front Street opened a 30-seat section of its restaurant in mid-October and will open additional seating in November.

A year after Sandy flooded the South Street Seaport with eight feet of water, some small businesses are still closed, but many have re-opened over the past few weeks and there's a spirit of optimism.

"To many of us who were closed for so long, just to have your doors open, even not a hundred percent complete, feels so amazing," said Amanda Byron Zink, owner of the Salty Paw, a doggie boutique and groom spa on Peck Slip. 

The Salty Paw spent months hopping from one temporary space to another as its landlord fixed problems with the building. Now the shelves are filled with ceramic I♥NY dog bowls, Salty Paw fish cookies and Bowser Beer, a non-alcoholic beer for dogs that comes in beef and chicken flavors.

As recently as March, the Salty Paw and 85 percent of the restaurants, cafes and shops were still shuttered; now, the neighborhood is having a renaissance.


Neighborhood leaders organized a block party in mid-October to announce the Seaport is open for business, and a non-profit merchant association formed in Sandy's wake — the Old Seaport Alliance — has been receiving donations, including a $50,000 check from the Howard Hughes Corporation, which owns Pier 17. 

While a handful of merchants have moved to higher ground nearby, others like the restaurants Il Brigante and Nelson Blue on Front Street are staying put and rebuilding.

"I decided to come back because I love this neighborhood and I have a personal attachment to this space," said Stefano Barbagallo, owner of Barbalu restaurant on Front Street, which partially re-opened October 18.