RED HOOK — It could take up to three months for the Red Hook Fairway Market to recover from Hurricane Sandy and reopen to the public, a store official said Wednesday.
The gourmet grocery, which overlooks the Hudson River, was one of several Van Brunt Street businesses flooded by nearly five feet of water following the hurricane which hit New York City on Oct. 29. Fairway didn't sustain any structural damage, but the 52,000 square-foot store needed a significant clean-up and new equipment, spokesman Bruce Bobbins said.
Bringing the store back to life could take as few as six weeks or as many as 12 weeks, Bobbins said. In the meantime, the grocer's 350 employees have been placed in temporary positions at other Fairway markets and will get their jobs back when the Red Hook store reopens. Fairway is providing a shuttle service from the store for local workers who need a lift to the temporary jobs.
"We're there for the neighborhood," Bobbins said, noting that Fairway has donated several truckloads of hurricane relief supplies and helped Red Hook's Hometown barbecue — which suffered more than $20,000 in damage — serve up 300 hot meals to Red Hook residents who've been without heat, power or hot water since Sandy.
For shoppers, there's a silver lining to Fairway's hurricane headaches. The store's forced renovation is giving Fairway the opportunity to move forward with a new project: building a restaurant on its second floor with a view of the Statue of Liberty, Bobbins said.
Fairway runs a cafe on the second floor of its Upper West Side store and opened a "patio grill" at its Red Hook location this past summer. Customers had been asking the Red Hook store to add a full-scale restaurant as well, Bobbins said. Like Fairway's other eateries, the menu at the Red Hook restaurant will be created by chef Mitchel London.
"It's something that had been talked about, but now that we have work to do [on the store], it makes sense," Bobbins said.