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Nearly a Year After Sandy, Shuttered Seaport Shops Finally Set to Open

By Irene Plagianos | September 16, 2013 6:50am
 Seaport favorites Paris Cafe, the Salty Paw and a host of shops and restaurants are finally on their way to reopening in October 2013.
South Street Seaport Resurgence
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SOUTH STREET SEAPORT — Nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy’s floodwaters tore through the South Street Seaport, a host of storm-shuttered shops are finally making their comeback.

Pet grooming spa The Salty Paw, sushi emporium Suteishi, wine bar Bin No. 220, Keg No. 229, the Paris Cafe, the Italian restaurant Il Brigante, Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee and the restaurant Nelson Blue, among others, are in the process of returning to their old sites, to the delight of restaurateurs and locals alike.

“We’re thrilled,” said Amanda Byron Zink, owner of The Salty Paw. “It’s a very long time coming, but it feels good to be home.”

Byron Zink is aiming to reopen her 38 Peck Slip store — which, like other neighboring shops, was completely wrecked during Sandy — on Sept. 27.

The Salty Paw was one of nine shops on Historic Front Street, a cobblestone block between Peck Slip and Beekman Street with buildings dating back to the 18th century, which took until this month to reopen as a result of the extensive storm damage. The hardest-hit parts of the buildings were their electrical and heating systems, tenants said.

The Durst Corporation, which is the landlord for the businesses on the block, finally gave the owners the green light to start reworking their storefronts this summer, tenants said.

Along with Byron Zink’s shop, sushi spot Suteishi at 24 Peck Slip is also on deck for a Sept. 27 opening, as is the new Italian eatery Barbalu at 225 Front St. — the old site of Seaport favorite Barbarini.

Stefano Barbagallo, who owns Barbalu, is the former co-owner of Barbarini.

He said the new venue will be very similar to the old restaurant, with rustic Italian fare dedicated to fresh, high-quality ingredients.

Barbagallo said he plans to open the 20-seat restaurant first, then hopes to expand into the space next door in about two months — a space that Barbarini also occupied.

Across the street from Barbalu, longtime Seaport wine bar Bin No. 220 has just reopened its doors for a soft launch.

“It’s been more than 10 months — we were really anxious to get up and running,” said Bin No. 220 co-owner Callie Lerner. “We’ve already had such a warm welcome. It feels great to serve our customers again, even if we’re not at 100 percent.”

For the next two weeks, as they continue to get all of their wines in stock and get ready to serve their full menu, the bar will be open Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Lerner said.

They hope to open for lunch and stay open seven days a week starting at some point in October, Lerner said. They also intend to launch their sister craft beer bar, Keg No. 229, which sits across the street at 229 Front St., by mid-October.

Also hoping for an October relaunch is a beloved 19th-century restaurant and bar, the Paris Cafe. Owner Peter O'Connell said the interior, which was deluged with more than 11 feet of murky floodwaters, is finally ready, but they still need to make some tweaks and they're waiting for tables and chairs to be delivered from Europe.

"We certainly want to move this along and open up," O'Connell said, adding that he's spent more than $600,000 to fix the historic spot on the corner of South Street and Peck Slip. "We're really looking forward to getting back to the neighborhood [to] get on with our lives — and start making money."

Most of the Front Street shops that are still working on opening, like pizzeria Il Brigante, coffee shop Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee and restaurant Nelson Blue, a New Zealand bar and grill, are angling to launch by mid-October, in time for a planned block party to celebrate their recovery after the storm.

The Front Street owners, who’ve started a merchants' association called the Old Seaport Alliance, will shut down Historic Front Street, as well Peck Slip, to cars for the party on Oct. 19.

The other reason to finally open in October: most of the owners will have to start to pay rent again that month, Byron Zink said.

"Most of us have barely had an income over the past 10 months," she said. "It's time for us to get back on our feet — and get back to doing what we love."