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Sandy Leaves Her Mark on NY Area Bars

November 27, 2012 By: Jack Robertiello

We’re still cleaning up here in New York and New Jersey; buildings destroyed, many people left homeless, some remarkably still without power. Businesses as well have been stunned, though some who happened to have their own generators leapt right back to work as soon as they could.

The New York chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild did yeoman duty, keeping channels of communication open via social media, pooling resources and such to clean up, restore or just get up and running some bars in Manhattan. Their efforts even being featured on network news coverage. The NY guilders also hit the beaches in some of the devastated coastal towns to help out. Many bars and restaurants are still closed, basements swamped, equipment ruined, inventory destroyed or unusable, in some cases buildings about to be declared unsafe.

By the way, kudos to the other USBG chapters who pitched in raising funds – clothing drives in Boston, NorCal USBG raised $23,000 dollars for relief efforts. Ohio, Chicago, San Francisco, Louisville – fund raisers sprung up in many towns as a result of the close-knit USBG member guilds.

Among the hardest hit communities is Red Hook, Brooklyn, where famous old dives like Sonny’s struggle to get it together. A more recent addition to the nabe, Ft. Defiance, has really hit the rocks, owner St. John Frizell shared in an email. (He blogs about the mess there right here)

Here’s what he had to say: “As you may know, our restaurant was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Our basement was completely submerged by the flood waters, and we got about a foot of water in the dining room. We lost tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment and inventory, and we've been closed since the storm. Even now, most of our neighbors are still without power. Our insurance company isn't giving us one thin dime, and all the government offers are disaster loans. So we're taking it to you, our friends: please help us rebuild!”

Frizell is selling junk bonds, as he calls them – you send him $50 and you get a gift certificate complete with drawings of Trader Vic Bergeron, Dale DeGroff, Charles Baker and other cocktail luminaries. Only thing is, the bonds are only worth half what you send him – it’s a fundraiser, after all, and a worthy one, especially if it gets this cozy nook through the worst of it. Check it out here.

There are of course many other ways to contribute, in whatever way you can. New York always seems indestructible, but many lives are still teetering on the brink, as their homes, workplaces, livelihoods, are all still feeling very fragile. The NY USBG chapter would love to hear from you if you are so inclined and able to pitch in I’m sure – you can find them busy planning the next stage of their generosity right here.


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