Last week, a truck with a giant TV screen on the side of it drove down Court Street, loudly announcing that Fairway in Red Hook would reopen March 1, after being devastated by Hurricane Sandy. I didn’t think the publicity was necessary. And I was right.
This morning, two days after a grand reopening that drew Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the auxiliary parking lot across Conover Street from the store was filled beyond capacity, with cars struggling to navigate the tight lot as they waited for fellow shoppers to unload their carts into their cars and free up needed spaces. Last year, the lot usually had a dozen cars at most on Sunday mornings.
A sign outside the main parking lot announced: “Established 2006 · Devastated 2012 · Reborn 2013 BROOKLYN STRONG(ER)” An employee at the entrance handed out free bottles of apple cider, thanking customers for returning.
The newly reopened Fairway has a new layout, which, while confusing at first, is far more easier to navigate than the old store. (Am I the only one who thought the old produce section was a frustrating maze?) To help shoppers find their way around the new store, employees handed out maps near the entrance.
Sandy’s storm surge damaged everything inside the store, overwhelming it with 5 feet of water. But the Civil War era building that houses Fairway is made of brick, so structurally, it remained sound. Here’s more about the building itself from current owners, the O’Connell Organization:
The 5-story Red Hook Stores, originally known as the New York Warehouse Co.’s Stores, was built by William Beard in the 1870s as part of the major expansion of storage and warehousing inside Erie Basin and along the Red Hook waterfront after the Civil War.
Like many warehouses of its kind, the building was set back from the bulkhead with the long façade facing the water so that ships could unload goods for storage directly onto the adjacent docks. The building’s dramatic brick façade features row upon row of arched windows with iron shutters. It’s heavy timber mill construction was typical of mid- to late 19th-century industrial buildings; massive square yellow pine columns fitted into cast iron “shoes” support heavy girders over 20 feet long.
Days after Hurricane Sandy, Fairway Founder Howie Glickberg showed hot air being circulated through the empty store so that he and his team could rebuild and reopen. He predicted that when Fairway did finally reopen, it would be stronger and more efficient, and customers would come in with smiles on their faces.
It appears his prediction rang true.