11/01/2012 09:28:00 AM

NYC Restaurants Get Scrappy During Continued Recovery

Powerless Barraca keeps the lights on last night with a generator 
A new normal has quickly settled in over the Manhattan restaurant industry - power or not, the city's eateries are using the Mayor's advice and "getting creative" to serve their (very grateful) guests. The lights in Midtown have worked as a comforting draw to those Downtown - though deliveries are not coming through at normal levels, anywhere that's serving continues to be mobbed. This is largely due to the waitstaff and bartenders, who had to deal with yesterday's killer commute to keep service going.

Jeffrey Bank, CEO of Alicart Restaurant Group (Carmine's, Virgil's) says it's great to be serving, giving a shout out to his employees, "Workers rode their bikes, carpooled, walked and did whatever they needed to do to get to work, like a lot of New Yorkers." His Italian joint has even added a special deal for parents who may need a little break from their home-bound children. If you order some penne a la vodka, Carmine's will give you 45 minutes of free day care. Somehow, we suspect many diners will order seconds.

With tourists and locals stranded, a major priority has been phone charging. A bartender at a Midtown restaurant likened yesterday's service to working in a coffee shop, as most patrons just came in to order a coffee and a chance to charge their devices. New Yorkers also showed a little scrappiness, one reader reports taking her charge-less phone into Bubba Gump Shrimp, whose staff gladly offered a phone charge as she ate.

In the Powerless Zone, a sense of resourcefulness prevailed. Old Homestead in the Meatpacking District brought a grill onto the street and cooked up burgers for crowds, while Pizza Roma in the West Village fired up a generator and served a "Ghost Town" menu before night fell, giving a little joy to those who normally would fill Bleecker Street after the Halloween parade. One the darkness set in, places like Barraca kept their lights on with a generator and promised patrons fresh produce from an "able and willing staff."

Con Ed has started notifying some Downtown residents about pending power restoration, but a few establishments are planning for the long haul, and having a little fun while doing so. Idle Hands Bar in the East Village is promoting a candlelit happy hour tonight, that will raise money for The Red Cross. The bar notes that "We still don't have power (yet!), but it doesn't mean we can't do something to help," and they promise that half of the proceeds from bourbon and cold beer will go to help disaster relief. Like the restaurants, patrons will just have to be flexible. The happy hour runs from 1 to 8 PM, or "until we run out of ice."

-Thanks to everyone who keeps emailing us tips - keep 'em coming. If you've seen a unique scene or have found a helpful restaurant, email jmulcahy@zagat.com

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