SOUTH STREET SEAPORT — For the patrons gathered around the bar at the Cowgirl Sea-Horse Thursday night, much of the talk still revolved around the lingering aftermath of Hurricane Sandy: what restaurants are rebuilding, which ones aren't. What buildings have power again, which ones don't.
The Cowgirl Sea-Horse — sister restaurant to the West Village's Cowgirl Hall of Fame — is among the eateries on the rebuilding list. The Front Street spot reopened its bar on Thursday, a beacon to residents in a neighborhood where so many places are still shuttered and where many people are just getting power back in their own homes.
"We were ecstatic," said Tracy Foy, 48, who lives in nearby Southbridge Towers, where there were no lights until last weekend. She's been eager for a little neighborhood night life.
"I felt like the Waltons, going to bed at 7 o'clock every night. There's only so much you can do by candlelight," she said, saying she and her friends are among the bar's regulars. "It's like our Cheers."
While the kitchen at the Sea-Horse is still being repaired, its bar was back in full operation on Thursday, which featured live music from the bluegrass band The Crusty Gentleman.
Daniel Clark, 34, just moved back into his John Street apartment Thursday afternoon, where power was restored by a generator. His return home perfectly coincided with the Sea-Horse's reopening, and he was grateful.
"It's good to try to get some normalcy," he said. "I just wanted to come back and support the local businesses."
A number of shops and restaurants in the South Street Seaport remain closed, after the storm two weeks ago sent several feet of water into basements and ground floors. The damage has been devastating to the local business community, and the future of many establishments remains unclear.
"You're dead in the water if you can't get back open," said Jay Savulich, a longtime restaurateur and one of the Sea-Horse's owners, who said they've been struggling after losing over two weeks of business, and is fighting to keep his nearly 30 employees on the payroll.
"Every day that you're not open, those expenses pile up," he said.
On its website, the restaurant is accepting donations from those who want to aid in its rebuilding efforts. Thursday's reopening was to let the neighborhood know that the Sea-Horse is still standing, Savulich said.
"To put a stake in the ground that we're not going anywhere," he said. "It's the first step back out."