Restaurants Reopen in the West Village, Despite Lack of Electricity


Flood waters rising in the West Village after the power went out. Looking toward the Hudson River from the intersection of Perry and Washington streets.

In the West Village, prospects for power reinstatement seem grim. The explosion at the 14th Street and Avenue D transformer farm could be seen from over the tops of buildings here on Monday evening around 8:30, and the neighborhood went dark about 15 minutes later. But all is not gloom and doom in the streets, where massive amounts of debris are still being cleaned away.

Tentatively, restaurants have started to reopen. Surprisingly, most are still without electricity. How do they do it? Gas is the one precious utility that hasn’t ceased, and eateries are putting candles on the tables and firing up their ovens. The wood-oven places led the way.

Last evening, Barbuto was open on Washington Street just south of the Meat Packing District, less than 24 hours after water had been literally lapping at their doors. The place, with 80 or so seats, was nearly full, and you could see the black-hatted staff turning out the signature roast chickens in the window.

Lievito was open, too, a wood-oven pizza place on Hudson Street, and so was Irish gastropub Dublin6. It was kind of eerie seeing these restaurants open. The candles were inadequate to fully light the spaces, and the patrons were barely perceivable in the dim flickering light.

Whether these restaurants heroically opened to comfort a beleaguered neighborhood, or simply to burn off food supplies that would otherwise go bad, is immaterial. They lent a much-needed sense of community and friendliness to an increasingly depressing situation.