On the way to Labor Day weekend, restaurants struggle to reopen after the storm that flooded buildings across the city and forced much of the subway system to shut down overnight. Vegan restaurant Grilled in Bushwick temporarily closed until 12 noon tomorrow, while the all-day café Porcelain in Ridgewood canceled its daily service on Thursday and plans to reopen for dinner at 5:30 pm
According to owners Victor Huang and Peter Tondreau, Very Fresh Noodles at Chelsea Market did not suffer any damage in the store. The couple, however, was anticipate Service adjustments, including possible suspension of delivery for the day as some employees were unable to start work due to home flooding and local transit delays.
The Yafa Cafe in Sunset Park, which closed for renovations last month, posted a video on Instagram shows extensive flooding and water damage in the newly developed area. “It’s safe to say that Yafa will be out of service for some time,” wrote owners Ali Suliman and Hakim Sulaimani in the post. “We are back in first place after the last [night’s] Storm. “The owners have started a GoFundMe Raising $ 15,000 to cover rebuilding costs.
NYC’s Central Park recorded 3.1 inches of precipitation in one hour Wednesday night, beating the previous record of one hour of precipitation – 1.94 inches – that had been set a week earlier when tropical storm Henri swept through the area. The downpour caused the parks lake swell and water splashes over the floor of the dining room of the iconic restaurant at the Loeb Boathouse overlooking the lake. “It’s not as if water came in from the roof – the whole lake rose,” says owner Dean Poll. “The height of the lake went higher than the boathouse.”
By late Thursday morning, the lake water had dropped to about an inch on the floor of the restaurant’s dining room, according to a survey. The outside bar stayed under an estimated foot of water. The restaurant has not yet been able to assess the full extent of the water damage, but Poll reckons that the electrical cables in the floor will have to be replaced. He hopes the restaurant’s tiled floor was kept intact during the flood. “The beautiful lake is our capital and sometimes our fault, too,” says Poll.
Gloribelle Perez, owned by Barcha in East Harlem, watched from a distance as the water level rose around her restaurant. At around 10pm on Wednesday, her twins were asleep, her husband Walid Mrabet had just come home from the restaurant and she was using a P on her phone to watch security footage of “ocean waves” crashing into the front of her shop. “We saw it flood into the basement,” she says.
From the security footage, Perez says she watched two neighbors of the restaurant begin cleaning drains on the street with their hands so the water could drain from the restaurant. Water got into Barcha’s basement, but not on the first floor of the restaurant because of the strangers. “This is East Harlem,” she says. “We are here for each other.”
In Queens, José Moreno estimates that up to half a meter of water has collected around the base of his Birria-Landia taco truck in Jackson Heights. The truck, which is 28 feet long and has a second location in Williamsburg, was able to stay open and safely navigate the neighborhood’s partially flooded streets, but the normally busy section of Roosevelt Avenue it operates on has been completely devoid of grocery sellers . “That was a surprise for all of us,” he says.
The Birria-Landia food trucks, which closed around midnight on Wednesday evening, saw slow flow of customers, but sales were slow and stores had a lot of leftover food the next morning. If Moreno had known the extent of the storm in advance, he would have decided to leave his trucks in the garage and his employees at home, he says.
Some restaurants, unsure whether they can open today, have already canceled or reduced orders from their suppliers. A handful of restaurants have canceled their orders from the fish supplier Aqua Best because they sustained water damage, says co-owner Steven Wong. Some of his drivers, who live in the hinterland and on Long Island, were unable to work today due to flooded roads, and at least one employee had to deal with purifying water from his basement.
Just like last summer, restaurants are at the mercy of nature, says Wong. A year ago, it was the only way to serve customers al fresco to dine on-site, but this time around, Wong says restaurateurs have been focusing more on their streetside setups due to concerns about the emerging Delta variant. Outdoor dining can be wiped out due to inclement weather, which he believes can cripple a restaurant’s business and demand for ingredients in an instant. “You have to do business like us while making sure everyone is safe,” says Wong.
According to Hildalyn Colón Hernández, director of policy and strategic partnerships at Los Deliveristas Unidos, an organization that represents around 3,000 deliveries, delivery services like DoorDash and Grubhub stayed on during the storm, and food suppliers stayed on the streets to fulfill orders to workers across the world NYC are fighting for better working conditions in the industry. “Rain, sunshine, snow, they’re going to work outside, and they did it all over town last night, like they always do,” says Hernández.
Hernández said the organization received no reports of injuries or serious accidents among workers last night, but many workers’ motorcycles and electric bicycles have been taken out of service due to flooding in the streets. And the subway, usually a backup support system for workers who have a bicycle failure, wasn’t an option for many last night.
Even so, when the weather is bad, the food delivery staff often stay outside as long as possible because more customers are placing orders and the earning potential is higher. “They hope that they can make more money during this time,” says Hernández. “They can make the money they need to support their families. It is a risk they are willing to take. “
Los Deliveristas Unidos is currently advocating a package of legislation in the city council, which, if passed, would provide more job security for delivery drivers, including ensuring delivery drivers cannot accept workers’ tips and fines in restaurants and bars that deny delivery workers access to their toilets.
Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the lack of advance warning for city dwellers and business owners at a press conference on Thursday. “Every attempt at a projection fails,” said the mayor. “Yesterday morning the report was 3 to 6 inches for a full day, which was not a particularly problematic amount. Almost without warning, it turned into the largest single hour of rain in New York City history. “
According to the National Weather Service, between four and eight inches of rain fell in New York City on Wednesday evening. This record rainfall led to around 18,000 apartments Loss of power in New York City and Westchester Counties and brought the city’s public transportation to a standstill.