We took a walk down Sheepshead Bay Road yesterday, where waves as high as eight feet tall crashed through storefronts and flooded thriving businesses on its way inland. And, in the face of the devastation, local business were well on the way to recovery, with some already opening their doors to customers.
One of the most amazing stories of recovery is Bagels R Us at 1424 Sheepshead Bay Road. Danny, the owner, kicked the business into high gear, serving up sandwiches, beverages and other meals yesterday, even though just two days before the business was under five feet of water. Danny said some of his equipment was damaged beyond repair, and it even seems his brand new bagel machines are out of commission. However, he’s been able to get his grill up and running, and was grilling chicken cutlets when we stopped in yesterday afternoon. They’ve been bringing baked goods in from their sister locations, and the store was packed.
Some businesses aren’t quite as far along as Bagels R Us, but they’re getting there.
Arbuz, at 1706 Sheepshead Bay Road, had all of their equipment out on the sidewalk, as employees scrubbed the interior of ocean water, and wiped muck off the machines. Owner Rovshan Danilov said they weren’t sure how soon they’d be up and running, but don’t plan to wait for the insurance companies or FEMA to pay for the damages. He said he and his partners will be paying out of pocket to get his employees back to work, and customers served. He’s not yet sure how much of his equipment needs replacing, though.
Forces of Nature (1608 Sheepshead Bay Road) proved their own commitment to local commerce. Although the store lost much of its stock and is a long way away from being fully operational, they took what was salvageable and loaded up a cart on the sidewalk, where employees hawked $2.00 loaves of bread and other goods.
The area’s bodegas and small grocery stores are also getting back on their feet. After cleaning our debris, fruit and magazine stands are being restocked, and cash registers are beginning to ring with that familiar cha-ching once again, an important return to normalcy for a community rooted in its small businesses and local commerce.
Some businesses, though, will take longer to recover.
Tete a Tete, the glass enclosed triangular storefront at 1401 Sheepshead Bay Road turned into a fish tank during the storm, with water rising all the way up to its four foot tall counters. The water shattered its glass windows and tossed fully-stocked refrigerators to and fro. Owner Dmitry Nadelson said he thinks it will be months before they get back on their feet, and he worried for his employees who may have to find new work. But repairs are already underway, and they may be able to serve their first cups of coffee again soon.
The office building Tete a Tete is housed in has been pumping water out of its basement garage for at least two days.
They’re not the only ones. Using an ice cream truck as a generator, Anatolian Gyro’s (1605 Sheepshead Bay Road) owners have been using an electric pump to suck several feet of water out of their storefront, but the place is already looking cleaner and may be back on its feet soon.
It was a similar scene all throughout Sheepshead Bay Road, where the sidewalks were lined with bags of garbage and debris, and owners put chairs, tables and equipment out to dry. Sushi stores and cell phone stores and medical offices and kebab joints alike were pumping hundreds of gallons out of basements.
At Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’s office at 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road, waters rushed through Monday night, flipping filing cabinets and desks and leaving documents stuck to walls and floors. Phone lines remain down, but the local pol’s staff was there when we stopped by yesterday afternoon, answering questions from locals and giving out contact information for FEMA and the Red Cross. Cymbrowitz has been touring the neighborhood, taking calls on his cell phone and visiting senior centers. He joined Senator Charles Schumer and other Southern Brooklyn elected officials in the evening to tour the hard hit Seagate community and other parts of his district.
Still, the majority of the Bay’s businesses remain shuttered and owners estimate it will be months – if not longer – until there’s a full recovery of the neighborhood’s commercial sector. Southern Brooklyn’s businesses will need the patronage of neighbors from our own community and the rest of New York City in the coming months.
If you know of an open business in the hard hit areas, share it here so your neighbors can visit and help the region’s small businesses get back on their feet, providing jobs and services for our community.