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Red Hook Restaurants, Bars Ravaged by Sandy Appeal to Fans for Help

By Alan Neuhauser | November 18, 2012 9:30am | Updated on November 19, 2012 12:45pm

RED HOOK — The gourmet restaurants and neighborhood dive bars that helped redefine Red Hook as a waterfront destination for food and drink are now turning to their fans for help.

Wiped out by Hurricane Sandy Oct. 29, without flood insurance and unable or unwilling to take on debt through a government loan, popular destinations like The Good Fork, Bait & Tackle and the Red Hook Lobster Pound have launched fundraising campaigns to replace equipment destroyed by salt water, recoup losses from being forced to close, and regain their footing in New York's cutthroat food and drink industry.

"I've got a lot of help, and that's really what's been keeping me going," said St. John Frizell, the owner of Fort Defiance Cafe and Bar on Van Brunt Street, which has received donations and help from volunteers as it has started to repair damage from Sandy.

"People really want us to come back. They really love it — at times, they love it more than I do. But I want to keep going. I don't want to give up."

DNAinfo.com New York has assembled a rundown of each business' fundraising campaign. If there are any that we missed, let us know in the comments section or email aneuhauser@dnainfo.com.

To learn about community-wide fundraising efforts like Restore Red Hook and Red Hook Volunteers, check out our article here.

Bait & Tackle
Stuffed deer, rams, weasels and other critters great and small festoon the walls of this former taxidermy shop and fishermen's social club on Van Brunt Street, Red Hook's first seven-day-a-week bar. "The interior feels like an Adirondack Lodge collided with a classic New York dive bar," say owners Barry O'Meara and Karin Weiner. The bar's inventory and equipment, however, were destroyed by Sandy.

"Sandy was just the kind of patron you don’t want at your bar — even a bar like the Bait & Tackle," O'Meara and Weiner wrote on the Kickstarter page they started, "(Re)Build a Better Bait & Tackle."
"She flooded the place, smashed it up, tried to steal all the booze and then didn’t even pay her tab. Seriously, who does that? A Category 1 hurricane, apparently."

O'Meara, Weiner and local volunteers started repairing the bar as soon as the storm passed, and their Kickstarter campaign has raised more than $21,000 from over 170 supporters — $1,000 more than its fundraising goal.

Fort Defiance
The cafe and bar at 365 Van Brunt St. has introduced "Buy Now Drink Later" junk bonds, selling gift certificates at twice their value to raise money to rebuild.

"Our insurance company isn't giving us one thin dime, and all the government offers are disaster loans," Frizell wrote on the cafe's website. "You give us $20, we send you $10 in gift certificates. You send us $100, we send you $50 in gift certificates…. It's a terrible deal for you, but we really need the money!"

Each bond denomination features an illustrated portrait of a "cocktail luminary," such as 19th century mixologist and author Jerry Thomas on the $1 bond, and "Gentleman's Companion" scribe Charles H. Baker Jr.

The bonds can be bought on the Fort Defiance website.

The Good Fork
The Good Fork restaurant and bar has won rave reviews from The New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ Magazine, and a host of travel magazines since it opened in March 2006. Run by chef Sohui Kim and her husband, Ben Schneider, the restaurant received top marks for what it calls its "eclectic comfort food," such as Korean-style "Steak and Eggs" and homemade pork-and-chive dumplings.

Salt water from Sandy filled the restaurant's basement and rose to the dining room on the first floor, which Schneider built by hand from virtually the ground-up. The couple is working to raise $50,000 to rebuild on GoFundMe.com, and as of Friday morning, it had attracted more than $41,000 from nearly 300 donors.

"We've created many great memories for our loyal patrons, neighbors, friends and family," Kim and Schneider wrote on their GoFundMe.com page. "Ben and I, along with the rest of the Good Fork staff, past and present, are committed to rebuilding and reopening. We reach out to you for your help in this endeavor."

Kevin's serves a slightly different menu every week, finding inspiration from the season and the foods available at local markets, including Added Value Farm in Red Hook. Opened by Kevin Moore and Caroline Parker in 2008, its dinner menu includes cioppino fish stew and pan-seared rainbow monk fish.

"The restaurant is pretty demolished, and we're slowly rebuilding," Moore and Parker wrote on the restaurant's website.

The pair are hoping to raise $3,000 through LuckyAnt.com, offering specials for different levels of support, from a free drink for a $10 donation, to 15-percent off donors' next meal for a $100 donation, to a special off-menu, "Take That, Sandy" dinner for two for those who give $500.

Red Hook Lobster Pound
Red Hook Lobster Pound has won near-worldwide fame as one of the most popular food spots and vendor trucks in New York City, attracting rave reviews and huge lines for its fresh Maine lobster since it opened in 2007.

"The whole community took a whooping from that Storm Sandy," husband-and-wife owners Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich wrote on the fundraising page they established on SmallKnot.com. "She filled up our tanks with more salt water than we could handle. We need to rebuild our lobster tanks, walk-in, kitchen and store."

The lobster pound is issuing gift certificates through SmallKnot.com — 25 percent of each certificate goes toward rebuilding, the rest toward any meal once the pound reopens.

As of Friday, the pound had raised just under $17,000 toward its goal of $75,000.

Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie
This pie shop on Pier 41 in Red Hook has attracted accolades — including a 26 rating from Zagat — for its "delicious Key lime pie," which the New York Times called "the best Key lime pie, Mason-Dixon line or no."

Steve's was battered by Hurricane Sandy, sustaining waist-high flooding and a power outage that dragged on for two weeks.

Owner Steve Tarpin is seeking $45,000 through GoFundMe.com. As of Monday morning, the campaign had raised about a 10th of that amount from 59 donors, and Tarpin announced on the shop's website that he hoped to reduce the goal to $20,000 by taking out a low-interest loan.

"I'm proud of the fact that through my business, I have fed many mouths, and not just in terms of your dessert after a meal," Tarpin said.

"My hard-working and devoted employees and their children have also been [a]ffected by Sandy's wrath, and we are intent on making sure their hardship is reduced during our recovery. We've watched [five] children grow up within the walls of Steve's Authentic, we will not let them down in their and our time of need."

To donate, visit the Steve's page on GoFundMe.com.