Brooklyn is caught on Red Hook, hook, line and sinker.
Residents have known for a long while that the waterfront neighborhood on the other side of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is a hidden gem full of seafood, sea air, and sass, but it wasn’t until the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy – when the entire community came together to support those in need – that the things that make Red Hook so special and unique were laid bare. It is the people and their interactions that make the area great.
Which is why when businesses began reopening, it was a big deal.
Hundreds of people came out on March 1 to kick things off, with a trifecta of popular neighborhood businesses reopening simultaneously: Fairway Market, Red Hook Lobster Pound, and Brooklyn Winery.
The Fairway parking lot was filled with residents, singing schoolchildren, city officials, and local businessowners – actor Josh Lucas among them – come to celebrate the return of a community cornerstone and economic catalyst, as the grocery store provides produce to many area businesses.
Monica Byrne, chef at the local Home/Made Wine Bar and co-founder/advisory board member of community rebuilding group ReStore Red Hook, said that “Fairway’s impact on the community cannot be overstated. . . I am personally delighted [as well as] thrilled for the customers Fairway will bring to [local small businesses].”
Susan Povich, co-owner of the Red Hook Lobster Pound, was also elated to be back with a new kitchen, 500-gallon lobster tank, and renovated dining area. “I’m filled with crustacean elation,” she declared while taking orders for lobster rolls. “I’m so pleased we can be open; it’s been a really long haul. We have a bathroom now! [Now] we’ll be a ubiquitous, lobster machine.”
Povich and her husband, Ralph Gorham, sustained around a $500,000 loss in rebuilding costs and lost business for the three months the lobster pound was closed; some costs were defrayed by fundraising efforts and a grant from Restore Red Hook.
The Red Hook Community Justice Center (RHJC) also felt the love, with the March 6 arrival of 14 new laptops from JetBlue Airways, donated for use in their youth programs after their computer lab was destroyed by floodwaters. The Red Hook Youth Court’s basement offices were also finally reopened with new furniture and equipment.
Other businesses that have reopened include Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie, Kevin’s, BrooklynCrab, Fort Defiance, Dry Dock Wine & Spirits, and others.
All the excitement and revitalization will continue through the spring and summer, with the Lobster Pound’s truck hitting the pavement on April 1 and the Red Hook Public Library’s grand reopening on April 2. Then, there’s the eagerly-anticipated return of the Red Hook Food Vendors on April 28! As always, they will be camped out on Ballfield #1 at the Red Hook Recreational Area at Bay and Clinton Streets.