Signing leases before Sandy, new restaurants remain in Red Hook for better or worse

hometown bar b q
Patrons eat at Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook, where owner Billy Durney smoked some 4,000 pounds of donated meat for the neighborhood after Superstorm Sandy.
Credit: Bess Adler/Metro

It’s Thursday — typically a slow day for restaurants — but nearly every table in Billy Durney’s 4,500-square-foot barbecue hall Hometown is packed. Even 1.5 miles from the nearest subway, New Yorkers seem drawn to Durney.

That’s because after Superstorm Sandy hit his Red Hook restaurant two months into its build out, Durney smoked nearly 4,000 pounds of donated meat and fed his neighbors for 16 days.

“I fell hook, line and sinker for every single person in this community,” Durney said.

The storm, for better or worse, forced the handful of food businesses that signed leases in Red Hook just before Sandy to become invested in the neighborhood.

Many establishments lost as much as $100,000 because the flood damaged essential kitchen appliances and food inventory. But leaving Red Hook was not an option given their financial investment in their spaces.

According to Monica Byrne, a co-founder of Restore Red Hook and a local business owner, most developments in the seaside neighborhood are under 10 years old and the owners personally financed their ventures.

“These are not Wharton School of Business plans, but they’re going to put their hearts and souls into it,” she said.

Steve Mierisch, owner of a coffee roasting incubator called Pulley Collective, signed his lease three weeks before the storm. He lost about 30 bags of green coffee beans and a roaster — much less than his neighbors at Mile End Delicatessen and Red Hook Winery — but damage to the building caused a five-month delay in opening his wholesale and roasting business.

Still, he wants to stay in the area for its close community and great views. The risk of encountering more flooding from storms like Sandy is a less of a concern.

“This truly was the storm of the century where everything aligned,” he said.

Durney wasn’t so lucky. He lost nearly $50,000 of kitchen and construction equipment in 5.5 feet of water.

“There’s a special breed of human being that comes to Red Hook to open a business,” he said. “Anything can happen when you’re this close to the ocean. ”

Despite the threat of flooding, the growing artisanal community of glassblowers, pie makers and craft bars lure entrepreneurs to the area. Mierisch considered spaces in Williamsburg, Bushwick and DUMBO, but ultimately chose Red Hook for the existing network of small businesses.

“It’s a good vibe in the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s like going to a small town upstate and you’re only five minutes from the city.”

Durney, too, wanted to be part of the unique community and in the wake of the storm, he did.

“Everyone absolutely pulls for one another,” he said. “And when you have that feeling amongst your neighbors, literally nothing can stop you.”

Follow Ashley Mason on Twitter @amason_916



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…