Cash Coming to Sandy-Stricken Businesses Below Canal Street
LOWER EAST SIDE — With a post-Hurricane Sandy blackout dragging on for four days, Wing Shoon Seafood Restaurant didn't just lose business — it lost $3,000 in live fish and lobsters.
"Without electricity there is no air, and with no air the fish and lobsters die," said Su Mei, who has owned and operated the 165 East Broadway restaurant with her husband for 20 years. "I lost inventory, I lost equipment."
Even with the neighborhood seemingly back in full swing, business still hasn't returned to normal, according to Mei, forcing Wing Shoon to lay off five of its 40 employees and reduce staff hours.
To help with the hardships, businesses like Wing Shoon will receive thousands of dollars in grants to make up for lost income following Hurricane Sandy. The infusion of cash, totaling $200,000, will come from the Partnership for New York City Fund to help businesses south of Canal Street repair damage, restore inventory and assist with rehiring employees.
"Businesses in our vibrant Asian American communities in lower Manhattan are still trying to get back on their feet after Superstorm Sandy's disastrous impact to their infrastructure, customers and employees," said Maria Gotsch, president the partnership, a non-profit organization of financial and business leaders that help promising entrepreneurs.
The grants will be extended to 160 businesses that received loans funded by the partnership following the storm, Gotsch explained.
The nonprofit has partnered with other location organizations, the Renaissance Economic Development Corporation and Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), which will be administering grants of up to $5,000 each for the businesses.
State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin and State Senator Daniel Squadron — who raved about Wing Shoon's soy chicken — commended the injection of funds at a press conference announcing the grants Thursday.
"The programs that we need to fully recover did not all exist when Sandy hit," said Squadron, about the need for busineses to get help fast.
Small business owner Adriaan van der Plas said he is planning to use the grant money to move his art gallery from its current Pier 17 location to Orchard Street.
"I ran a very good business for 20 years," he said of his Van Der Plas Gallery. "I made it through the disaster of 9/11, but now I am stunned."
Van der Plas was not able to open his gallery for 40 days due to the entire pier being closed due to safety concerns.
"I am honored," he said, "and it comes at a time when I am completely broke."