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
National

PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…

Local

Katz's Deli wins name battle with Florida cafe

The New York City delicatessen Katz's has won a legal battle to force a Florida restaurant to change its name, according to court documents made public on Monday.

Local

Rethinking the NYC subway map and mass transit…

Max Roberts has never ridden New York City's subway — but he's thought about system's twists and turns more than most daily riders. A 47-year-old…

National

U.S. coastal flooding on the rise, government study…

By Ryan McNeill(Reuters) - Flooding is increasing in frequency along much of the U.S. coast, and the rate of increase is accelerating along the Gulf…

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

Entertainment

'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood' game easter eggs and cheats

"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is the hottest game of the moment. Here are its best easter eggs as well as some tips and tricks to speed your way to the top.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Food

Zagat releases '30 Under 30' list

Zagat releases a list of the people changing the food and drink industry across the country.

Wellbeing

Fist bump gets respect as clean alternative to…

Though long used to give props, the fist bump is getting some actual respect. The gesture, once dubbed a “terrorist fist jab,” could become the new…

Wellbeing

Fist bump gets respect as clean alternative to…

Though long used to give props, the fist bump is getting some actual respect. The gesture, once dubbed a “terrorist fist jab,” could become the new…

Tech

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…