11/03/2012 01:50:00 PM

The Final Tally: Measuring the Boost At Uptown Restaurants

Neighborhood institution Good Enough To Eat saw a surge in business
While the overall economic impact from Sandy is still being assessed, we know the short story: many lower Manhattan restaurants have been devastated and yet, there's a scrappy resiliency and indefatigable spirit to march forward. Eateries located outside of the worst zones have dealt with a different set of challenges, many of which turned out to be not so bad after all. We checked with a handful of Upper West Side spots to get the final tallies on their bottom lines, and we also discovered how workers were doing their best to get back to business-as-usual.

Business Up
As a neighborhood that was firmly planted in the power zone during the days after the storm, the UWS constantly buzzed with people flooding the sidewalks, stores and most of all, restaurants. Unsurprisingly, business was up at eight of nine UWS restaurants we talked to on Friday, including observational accounts of record sales the day after Sandy hit at places like Fishtag, on 79th between Broadway and Amsterdam, and Good Enough to Eat, on 83rd and Amsterdam.

Fishtag GM/Beverage Director Steven Jenkinson guessed that the restaurant registered its "biggest Tuesday in its history" as they were one of the only restaurants open in the area. Jenkinson added that the supply chain was now largely intact, though they "ran out of everything" on different nights this week. The restaurant was waiting for two lower Manhattan-based purveyors, Russ & Daughters and il Laboratoria Del Gelato, - "which are the best, that's why we use them" - to get back on their feet and resume normal business.

John Fraser's Dovetail experienced an influx of people, said GM Louis Smeby, especially on Wednesday, which is typically one of their quietest nights. Reservations were up about 30% (117 vs. 80-95 on a typical day) and that's when delivery of items like linen returned to normal.

Luke's Lobster's UWS outpost did "about 50%" more in sales on Tuesday and then "less Thursday and Friday," according to co-owner Ben Conniff. Supplies like smaller paper items - paper boats for the rolls, napkins - were a still a challenge to get from purveyors said Conniff.

The Italian restaurant Nonna, at West 85th and Columbus, has also been serving "50% more" customers this week - 100 or so more a day - and Italian eatery Trattoria Pesce & Pasta, at 90th and Columbus, and Turkish spot Bodrum, on 88th and Amsterdam, reported an uptick in sales as well. Not everyone claimed business was booming. Serafina manager Natasha Gajat said sales have taken a hard hit this week at the spot on 77th and Broadway, though declined to offer specifics. She said they were dealing with customers complaining about service since the staff was short.

Commute Hell
A snapshot of Uptown staffers' commutes this week looks something like this: people walked, bused, rode their bikes, carpooled and did pretty much anything to try to get in the city to work. Bodrum owner Huseyin Ozer said he rented a Zip Car and got up at 6 AM to pick up his staff in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx before heading in to the restaurant on Thursday and Friday.

A staffer at a Luke's Lobster UES outpost had walked across the Brooklyn Bridge in order to catch a bus Uptown, according to co-owner Ben Conniff. Dovetail was managing with a short front-of-house staff with carpools being used to get people in and Serafina was still not fully staffed on Friday and was offering a stipend and car service for staff to make it in from the boroughs.

And while many UWS restaurants have been working hard to stay open and serve customers, Good Enough To Eat owner Carrie Levin remains cognizant of the struggle going on around the city. "We didn't want to seem like we were opening because it was all about money, money, money, but outside, customers were lined up on Tuesday and Wednesday nights just on the off-chance we were going to open," said Levin. "We've been in NY for 31 years and when you're open it's comforting and stabilizing to the people coming through the door."

See a list of Sandy-related resources here, including how to help, and see our full coverage on how the storm affected the NYC restaurant industry here.


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