UPPER WEST SIDE — After a massive fire displaced 19 families on the Upper West Side, local businesses and residents have stepped up to raise roughly $30,000 in donations over the last several months.
The blaze broke out at 511 Amsterdam Ave. on the night of February 24, leaving six firefighters and one civilian injured. The blaze was caused by an electrical cord extension on the third floor, the FDNY said.
In addition to uprooting the lives of the families upstairs, smoke and water damage forced the closure of e’s BAR on the ground floor and the neighboring Jacob’s Pickles at 509 Amsterdam Ave.
As both businesses struggled to reopen, they also had their neighbors in mind, prompting two online fundraising campaigns in March to accept donations for the displaced residents.
Jacob’s Pickles, which raised $7,615 through a GoFundMe campaign that began on March 23, is now in the final stages of its campaign and is planning to distribute the funds to tenants soon, a spokesperson for the restaurant said.
Another $7,300 was raised during a fundraising event in April at Maison Pickle, Jacob's Pickles sister restaurant, according to the spokesperson.
A GoFundMe campaign launched by e's BAR raised $12,670, with the donations paired with the majority of profits made during its reopening night on May 24, co-owner Erin Bellard said.
“To see the strong sense of community that still lives on the Upper West Side and watch everyone rally together was such a heartening experience,” Bellard noted.
The spokesman for Jacob's Pickles said the restaurant is hoping to reopen in the fall, but couldn’t provide a more specific date.
Francois Restrepo-Serrano, an attorney with Manhattan Legal Services’ Tenant Rights Coalition, is representing the tenants of both 509 and 511 Amsterdam Ave., who are pursuing legal action against their landlord since they still have not been able to move back into their apartments.
“We thought it would be the most effective way of protecting the tenants’ best interests and getting them reinstated in their units as fast as they could,” Restrepo-Serrano said. “And we thought it would be a good mechanism for holding the landlord accountable and trying to put some pressure on him to move sooner than later.”
The building's owner, 509 Amsterdam Associates, declined to comment.
Update: This post has been updated to reflect the amount of money raised at the fundraiser held at Maison Pickle in April, according to a spokesperson for Jacob's Pickles.