B & H Dairy, the 73-year-old dairy lunch counter that's been serving cheap, delicious food to East Village neighbors, hippies, and students, since way before the neighborhood was cool, may shutter for good. The spot has been dark since the deadly East Village explosion this spring. Since then, the team has been struggling with some serious financial and regulatory problems that may keep it from reopening altogether.
Chronicler of all great old things Jeremiah Moss spoke with owners Fawzy Abdelwahed and Ola Smigielska, who explain that new safety regulations implemented after the explosion are forcing the restaurant to upgrade to a fire system that costs $28,000. Before they can even do that, they need approval from the Landmarks and the Department of Buildings. They've submitted paperwork but, so far, no response. They are also still waiting on some badly-needed financial assistance that was supposed to come from the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. On top of all of this, they are still paying rent on a space where they aren't making a profit.
There have been some successful online fundraising campaigns that helped the restaurant along so far. But, the bottom line is that unless they owners get immediate approval for renovations and some government assistance, it's not likely that the restaurant will re-open. Meanwhile, Stage restaurant, just across the street from B & H, is currently in a legal battle with the building's landlord to keep from being evicted. It's a tough time for East Village icons.
Moss is helping Abdelwahed and Smigielska campaign for help from local officials. Click over here to find out more.