The Run-Up to Hurricane Irene in Food


Creative taping and window-boarding styles were evident at many restaurants — sometimes with a memorable slogan thrown in. In this case on Greenwich Avenue: “Missed You Irene Bet You Are a Hoot.”

If you’re one of those boulevardiers who prides herself in never touching a kitchen utensil, and eating every meal out, whose kitchen still looks like the day it was renovated, maybe you’re wondering, “Where the hell am I going to eat tonight and tomorrow?”

Looking for a place to eat? Irish bars are a good bet, this one fortified, but still open for business, as evening approached.

An informal survey of restaurants conducted by bicycle from the Upper West Side to the West Village between cloudbursts indicated that many restaurant chains (Subway, McDonald’s, Qdoba Grill) and upscale restaurant empires (Danny Meyer, David Chang) were completely shuttered by decree from the top, and so were bistro-level places, especially those that depend on hip waiters who live in Brooklyn.

Indeed, the places most likely to be open (and they were multiple, especially in commercial areas) as Saturday evening approached were:

1) Neighborhood Chinese restaurants
2) Irish bars with pub grub
3) Pizza parlors
4) Neighborhood delis

The places that had stayed open seemed to be doing three or four times their normal business.

At the corner of West 11th and Sixth Avenue, for example, Famous Ray’s, Sammy’s Noodles, and French Roast (a bistro, normally open 24 hours) were all wide open. A call placed to French Roast elicited the response “We plan to stay open 24 hours throughout the storm.”

Eataly: Closed!

Hill Country Chicken: Still open! (But call ahead.)


Until its noon closing, the Union Square Greenmarket was doing a land-office business, even though many of the other farmers’ markets were closed.

Those who woke up early on Saturday had plenty of food shopping opportunities. The clerk at Mountain Sweet Berry Farm (from Roscoe, New York) told me that the Greenmarket authorities had called all the farmers at 4 a.m. to tell them the market was canceled (by which point many were on the road), but called back later to say the market was on, but only until noon.

Noon seemed to be a common closing time, for those businesses that opened at all today. Citarella on Sixth Avenue in the West Village was more mobbed than I’ve seen it before for Thanksgiving or Christmas, with lines to the checkout counters snaking around the store all the way back to the pastas. The closing time of noon was announced by a manager as customers entered, “to allow the checkers to get home,” he said.

Supplies of rotisserie chickens and ducks and raw prime steaks were decimated, while stockers kept the shelves filled with other groceries, and not too many seemed to be getting the prepared food.

Not too much left at the rotisserie counter of Citarella