The wind is picking up, the streets are emptying and both Bergdorf Goodman and Saks have both boarded up their big, beautiful windows, but in some corners of the city, life is continuing as New Yorkers seek out the real essentials: donuts, booze and coffee.
In Bed-Stuy, Brooklynites were flocking to Dough to get their fix of hibiscus, dulce de leche and cafe au lait donuts and lay in tins of coffee from the Brooklyn Roasting Company. The line stretched nearly out the door at noon, as workers scurried around the kitchen, mixing, rolling and baking to feed the demanding masses. The store was planning to close at 2 p.m. Nearby, Bedford Hill coffee employees were sandbagging the door; the Daily Grind by the Franklin Train C Train stayed open until 3 p.m.
And while many remained at home, huddled indoors to avoid getting wet, for others staying dry looked like a much bigger threat. The Black Swan Pub and Restaurant on Bedford Avenue was buzzing at noon, as was TipTop on Franklin. In Crown Heights, the Fermented Grape was doing brisk business, dispensing wine to help residents pass the long, storm plagued hours to come. Soda Bar was full of revelers, heading off cabin fever with beers and cocktails.
“We’re having a hurricane party!” exclaimed the woman who answered the phone. She told us that the bartender would be there until 7 p.m. Milk Bar was also hopping and local bodegas, by and large open, were doing a brisk business in beer and cigarettes.
In Manhattan, however, things are shutting down fast as employees and staff rush back to their homes in the boroughs as the tunnels and bridges close.
“The streets are desolate, the wind is blowing, everything is closed down, from the restaurants to Whole Foods, we’re pretty much under lock down,” said Tribeca resident Charlie Walk, the former president of Epic Records. “The Dunkin’ Donuts are shut down, the Starbucks are all closed. I think it’s probably the first time a lot of people in the neighborhood have made their own coffee.”
Mr. Walk said he was most worried about flooding. “If the area gets flooded, you know it’s going to be weeks and weeks and weeks. It’s not an individual concern, it’s a neighborhood concern. It’s making sure the storm doesn’t shut down a neighborhood for a prolonged period of time.”
Mr. Walk, who lives a half-block away from Battery Park, said he’d checked out the water and found that it was “bubbling,” but it wasn’t planning on leaving.
“We’re going to stick it out, I think most people in Zone B are,” he said.
Union Square was similarly quiet, one resident told us. As for Fifth Avenue, it was packed with tourists wandering in packs, even though all the stores are sandbagged and empty. Even the Dunkin Donuts were closed, said an employee of a residential real estate company (who had taken a cab from his apartment on the Upper West Side to the company’s deserted, and officially closed, Midtown offices).
“I’ve never seen all the Dunkin Donuts close before, not even during Irene,” said the employee. He managed to find a cup of coffee and D&S Marketplace, whose owners had driven into Manhattan to open the story in the morning, but were planning to head back home later in the afternoon.
Fortunately, those in the West Village can head out to Waverly Inn, which is serving dinner tonight as usual, we were told. If you can get a reservation, that is.