EAST VILLAGE — More than a year after the East Village explosion that killed two people and destroyed three buildings, a neighborhood group that aided displaced residents and businesses is launching a food festival to drum up support for a community still in recovery.
The Cooper Square Committee has teamed up with a handful of local vendors whose businesses were affected by the explosion to create the first Taste of East Village festival — a tour of neighborhood eateries vital to the surrounding community, featuring tasting and festival specials, with entertainment from local performers.
Organizers say the creation of the fledgling fest, which will benefit the committee's charitable work, has already brought together local businesses in a new way.
“Before the explosion, none of this existed — we never really came together except for small promotions and things,” said Jimmy Carbone of local pub Jimmy’s No. 43. “We’re trying to make something positive out of something that was really negative.”
Carbone’s bar was shuttered for weeks due to damage from the explosion — and though the space has made a full recovery, Carbone says his business still suffered because many patrons assumed it was still closed.
The committee’s executive director, who had helped the bar get back on its feet after the initial shuttering, was chatting with Carbone at the reopened bar when he realized they could work together to rally support for Jimmy’s and surrounding shops.
“A lot of relationships were formed in the wake of all this,” said executive director Steve Herrick. “We talked about doing an event to bring more traffic to the area.”
The festival will take over East Seventh Street between Cooper Square and Second Avenue the afternoon of Sept. 17, creating a smorgasbord of samplings from participating restaurants such as Luke’s Lobster, Butter Lane Cupcakes, and Porchetta.
One event ticket — available online for $25 in advance or $30 the day of the event — will buy participants small plates at four of the eateries. All proceeds will benefit Cooper Square Committee’s programs benefiting low-income residents, the homeless and seniors.
For more information about Taste of East Village, including a list of all participating restaurants, click here.