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Shuttered Seaport Stores Band Together to Stay Afloat

By Irene Plagianos | January 22, 2013 8:05am

SOUTH STREET SEAPORT — Nearly three months after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the South Street Seaport, nine local restaurants and shops still shuttered are banding together to raise funds and help each other stay afloat while their doors remain closed.

The stores, all located on Historic Front Street, a cobblestoned block between Peck Slip and Beeckman Street, are launching a money-raising campaign Tuesday through small-business focused crowd-funding website Lucky Ant.

“We really liked the idea of doing something together,” said Linda Marini, owner of the block’s once-popular Italian eatery Barbarini. “It's in the spirit of doing something for the greater good of Historic Front Street.”

Thanks to extensive damage, especially to their electrical and heating systems, the owners have been told by their collective landlord — the Durst Corporation — that the properties won’t be up and running until the spring, or possibly the summer.

But while the stores are waiting to rebuild, the funding campaign is letting them keep up a customer base. The site allows visitors to buy gift certificates to shops, which also include eateries Nelson Blue, Il Brigante, Stella Manhattan Bistro and Jack’s Coffee, as well as dermatologist Bobby Buka and dog groomer the Salty Paw.

The certificates give the closed businesses support now, and can be redeemed when the stores and restaurants reopen.

“The owners were very happy to be able to offer something to their customers, and help bring business back to the area when they reopen,” said Lucky Ant founder Jonathan Moyal. “It’s really a win-win.”

Some of the shops, like the Salty Paw, will be able to redeem gift certificates immediately in their temporary spaces as they rebuild — the Salty Paw is hoping to move to a new Seaport location, unable to wait for its gutted business to be made habitable.

And Barbarini is offering certificates for its new restaurant, Da Claudio, which will be built in a yet-decided location outside of the Seaport, but nearby in lower Manhattan.

Marini and her husband were trying to hold on to Barbarini while opening the new place, but Marini said that has become financially untenable — Barbarini will be shut down for good.

Visitors can also make a general donation to the whole Front Street group, which will be divided among the shops.

Contributors have until Feb. 14 to support the businesses through the site.