Food in Short Supply in Chelsea, East Village and the Lower East Side

By Emily Frost and Patrick Wall  on November 5, 2012 9:40pm  | Updated on November 6, 2012 8:03am

LOWER EAST SIDE — Power has been restored to Chelsea, the East Village and the Lower East Side since Friday night, but many grocery stores, delis and corner stores in the area are still without staples like milk, yogurt, peanut butter, bottled water, and frozen food.

During Hurricane Sandy, thousands of dollars worth of refrigerated goods went bad, leaving store owners desperate to get their businesses back to normal, but worried about predictions of more bad weather this week.

With gas in short supply, regular deliveries of dry goods have also been delayed, according to David Beharoy, 27, the manager of Fine Fare Supermarket on Avenue C and 4th Street.

"[The warehouse] is only sending half of our order because they're low on inventory and deliveries are backed up," he said, adding that "there's no gas, everything is getting slowed down."

"The warehouses [they source from] are in New Jersey and Jersey got hit the hardest," said Beharoy. 

Key Foods on Avenue A at 4th Street had not yet restocked non-perishables that were in high demand in the lead-up to Hurricane Sandy, including Cheerios, canned and boxed goods, and its entire peanut butter inventory. In addition, most Key Foods label items were missing. However,  fresh produce had been delivered and stocked, minus sprouts and organic berries. 

And the grocery store, like many other surrounding food stores, was very low on its milk stock. 

Jeff Lawrence, 28, checked three stores for a gallon of milk on his walk from the Lower East Side to his apartment in the East Village, before locating one at Houston Village Farm at First Avenue and East 4th Street.

"I have looked in a couple of places — I'm not finding milk or half and half," he said. 

Eddy Ali, 28, who manages First and First Fine Gourmet Deli at the corner of First Avenue and East 1st Street, said he lost at least $18,000 during the storm.

"The meats, the salads, milk, yogurt, everything was lost," he said. He had a delivery from Boar's Head of deli meats and cheeses Friday morning and had reopened his sandwich counter.

"Everybody in this neighborhood is starving," said Ali. 

With ice cream, though, he was taking a more cautious approach. 

"Wednesday is going to be a hurricane so I don't want to get ice cream, there's no need," he said, though he was actually speaking about forecasts for the coming Nor'easter expected to hit the area.

At New York Village Deli at First Ave and East 2nd Street, a store employee said he wasn't selling any of the pints of ice cream in front of the checkout. 

"Everything is bad, the yogurt, the frozen food," he said.

Nila Sheth, 52, who has owned Houston Village Farm for 15 years, said she knew customers would want ice cream and ordered it on Friday. By Monday, she said, she had refilled 90 percent of the stock in her store and more ice cream deliveries were arriving. 

She, too, was concerned about what toll the coming weather pattern might take.

"I'm very worried about the storm [expected on Wednesday]," she said as her employees unloaded dozens of pints of Ben and Jerry's half baked and coffee heath bar crunch. Still, she didn't think that would impact the strong demand.

"We've had a lot of customers looking for dairy," she said.

In Chelsea, the Stone Street Coffee Company at 129 9th Ave. reopened Saturday after tossing out all the cartons of milk and cream and other dairy products that went bad last week while the power was out.

"They lost everything," said Elena Pineda, an employee. "They had to buy all new stuff."
 
The Chelsea Market, which reopened Saturday, buzzed with activity Monday.
 
"Today you can tell New York is back in business — Chelsea Market is busier than ever," said Paul Miller, an assistant manager at the bakery Amy's Bread. "We're all back to normal," he added.
 
The chain's main bakery in Long Island City was unaffected by the storm and operated normally last week, Miller said. 
 
But all three retail locations in Manhattan lost power. Only the Hell's Kitchen location sold products last week, which it did by opening a sidewalk booth, Miller said.
 
Another Market merchant, Dickson's Farmstand Meats, managed to save about two-thirds of its products by storing their meats in the store's refrigerated delivery truck, said Charlie Mirisola, an employee.
 
The store reopened Saturday and has been busy ever since, Mirisola said.
 
"People are just happy to get food back in their homes," he said.
 
But another Market tenant, Ronny Brook Milk Bar, was less fortunate.
 
"We had to throw out everything because we're a dairy place," said server Caitlin Mosiniak, who added that one cash register "blew up" after it sustained water damage during the storm.
 
An upstate farm that supplies the store experienced flooding, disrupting the normal flow of goods, Mosiniak said. The products on sale Monday were ones the store found at a local farmers market.
 

"Tomorrow morning should be our first normal shipment," she said. "If they can find gas to get here."

 

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