LOWER MANHATTAN — Popular South Street Seaport tapas restaurant Salud has joined the growing list of restaurants and shops that have permanently shut their doors in the wake Hurricane Sandy.
The Latin eatery was inundated with 15 feet of murky floodwaters during the storm and tried to rebuild with the help of a funding site, like many Sandy-wrecked shops.
But its efforts just couldn’t keep the restaurant afloat.
Two large “For Rent” signs now cover windows of what once was Salud — not that the shuttered space, which sits on the corner of Beekman and Front streets, sticks out in the mostly boarded-up Seaport.
Salud's owners did not return a request for comment.
Almost all of Salud’s neighbors on the historic slice of Front Street that runs between Beekman Street and Peck Slip also remain closed because of extensive flood damage.
The majority of the still-shuttered Historic Front Street shops — which all share the Durst Corporation as their landlord — were recently given a May 1 reopening date, according to store owners. But that long closure has been a tough stretch to bear, the businesses say, forcing some to head elsewhere.
Fernando Dallorso, the owner of Stella, another Front Street restaurant that remains shut, said he and others on the block are still negotiating with Durst for a more favorable lease. He hasn’t decided yet if he’ll stay to rebuild in his beloved location.
“We lost everything, absolutely everything,” said Dallorso, who opened his bistro, which featured French, Argentine and Asian cuisine, in 2007. “We love this area, but it’s a gamble to come and reopen here. We don’t know if we can take that risk.”
Stella, along with several other of the other Front Street stores, joined together to launch a crowd-funding site that ran through Feb. 14 and raised nearly $30,000.
While the stores were waiting to rebuild, the funding campaign helped them keep up a customer base. The site allowed visitors to buy gift certificates to shops, including eateries Nelson Blue, Il Brigante and Jack’s Coffee, as well as dermatologist Bobby Buka and dog groomer The Salty Paw.
Il Brigante is trying to continue that momentum by renting out a nearby kitchen and offering delivery service while it waits to reopen.
Front Street sushi restaurant Suteishi is doing the same. It offers delivery service from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. And in another sign of community solidarity, the restaurant is renting out neighboring Made Fresh Daily — which closes at 4 p.m. — for its evening hours.
But the fate of many stores remains unsettled as much of the Seaport area remains shuttered.
The handful of shops and restaurants — about 15 — that have managed to reopen are advertised on "Welcome Back" signs stuck on storefront windows. The Lower Manhattan Marketing Association (LOMA), which has launched a campaign to promote the businesses, has a listing of the stores on its site.
The Seaport's mall at Pier 17 also reopened months ago, though several of the small businesses and restaurants have chosen not to come back. The impending construction date for the complete overhaul and modernization of Pier 17 is still slated for the summer, which would force them out again anyway.
Many are still fighting for that construction date to be pushed back, giving merchants another high season to recoup some losses, but shops have already been sent May 1 eviction notices by landlord Howard Hughes Corporation.
"We're all trying so hard to make this work," Dallorso said. "We were wiped out and we need the landlord, the city, everyone to work together to make this area a place we can reinvest in — which is what we all want to do."