EAST VILLAGE — For the past two weeks, B&H Dairy Kosher Restaurant owner Fawzy Abdelwahed has been turning away disappointed customers, telling them that he has not yet reopened following the massive gas explosion on Second Avenue two weeks ago.
“We don’t know exactly when we’re going to reopen. It’s a very hard situation for us right now,” he said.
Though he has to turn them away, the owner of the 73-year-old neighborhood institution is hoping would-be customers can help his business in another way.
“The loss of revenue each day is adding up while we continue to cover taxes, rent and labor costs,” Abdelwahed wrote on the SmallKnot fundraising page.
“Our 73-year-old diner at the heart of the neighborhood needs your help to survive and rebuild after this tragic incident. Please help support our mom-and-pop business and keep alive its tremendous history in the East Village."
Abdelwahed, who took over B&H Dairy in 2003, said the restaurant has lost between $30,000 and $40,000 while waiting for officials to turn the gas back on.
It was turned off because of concerns about neighboring buildings’ gas lines following the explosion, he said. He hasn't been told when to expect an inspection. Otherwise, the restaurant is authorized to reopen, Abdelwahed said.
According to a Con Edison spokesman, the building’s cooking gas was shut off because of pipe leakage. Once the pipes are repaired, the Department of Buildings must be notified before a Con Ed inspector can run an integrity test. If the building passes, the utility provider can turn its gas back on, the spokesman said.
The building’s landlord was not immediately available for comment.
On the restaurant’s SmallKnot page, supporters can “invest” as little as $5, which gets them a “thank you” on B&H Dairy’s Facebook page. At $50, supporters receive breakfast or lunch for two people in return and a $150 donation leads to a 10 percent discount for the year.
Abdelwahed said he was grateful for all the support he has received from his landlord, customers and the community.
“Thanks to all public for trying to support [and] help us get back in business,” he said.
Abdelwahed said he hopes to reopen by next week and will let customers know when they are back in business through the restaurant’s Facebook page.