The streets were dark and quiet last night, as most Lower East Side residents huddled in their homes or fled to friends and relatives, but for those who ventured out post-superstorm Sandy, food, drink and comaraderie were on tap at several bars and restaurants. Just as many locally owned coffee shops were functioning while Starbucks all over town remained locked up tight, the establishments that opened their doors to their neighbors last night were generally the ones owned by the neighbors. There were no honking taxis or stretch limos dropping off stiletto-clad visitors from outside the LES, no DJs on the scene, just locals chilling out with each other and killing time until life gets back to normal.
At 169 bar on East Broadway shortly after 7 p.m., the beer-and-a-shot $3 happy hour special was flowing freely to patrons relieved to get out of the house for a while, and pleasantly surprised to find generator-powered lights, plenty of company and even a little food. At Forgetmenot on Division Street, co-owners Abbie and Paul Sierros had a system. Abbie was behind the candelabra-lit bar, cheerfully offering to cook anything from the remaining contents of her refrigerator: steak, french fries and eggs. Meanwhile, Paul kept the power coming via a long extension cord plugged into an electrical inverter in a van parked out front.
Interstate Food & Liquor on Orchard Street wasn’t serving food, but owner Andy Boose, who lives just around the corner, had plenty of ice and liquor, and beer taps whose lines ran down to kegs staying cold in a basement walk-in. He also had hand-crank radio given to him by a friend, and was jestingly offering drink discounts for patrons willing to keep it running. Also open last night: Motor City on Ludlow Street and Barrio Chino on Broome Street, which was packed.
As the evening wore on, NYPD patrols began appearing in greater numbers, and around 9:30 p.m., officers entered a few places to ask both the proprietors and the patrons to wrap it up by 10 p.m. Officers said there had been a gunpoint robbery on Henry Street earlier in the evening and urged everyone to walk home in groups using flashlights. Asked about the police interventions today, officials confirmed there was a robbery near 191 Henry St. last night. Apparently fire department leaders had also expressed concern over the establishments using candles for light.
Several businesses we talked to said they would try to be open again tonight for Halloween; we’ll keep you posted as we hear status updates.