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How To Help Iconic East Village Dairy Restaurant

B&H Dairy, opened in 1942, has been closed since deadly March 26 explosion

Stephanie Butnick
April 09, 2015
B&H Dairy several days after explosion across the street killed two and leveled three buildings. (Facebook)
B&H Dairy several days after explosion across the street killed two and leveled three buildings. (Facebook)

In the wake of the horrific March 26 explosion that left two people dead and turned three apartment buildings into rubble in New York City’s East Village, the neighborhood has been working to recover and repair. A benefit is being held April 12 to raise money for a local organization helping those affected and displaced. (Sting has reportedly donated an auspicious $36,000 to the effort.) Thanks to the magic of the Internet, these efforts are being aided by concerned citizens across the city and beyond. The family of one of the victims, a 23-year-old dining at Sushi Park, the restaurant on the ground floor of one of the buildings, received $20,000 in donations online after they said they were having trouble paying for a funeral.

Many local businesses in the immediate vicinity of the explosion, believed to have been caused by an illegally tapped gas line, shuttered after the incident, reopening as gas was slowly restored to surrounding buildings. B&H Dairy Kosher Restaurant, a neighborhood staple and one of the city’s few remaining dairy-only establishments, remains closed several doors down from the rubble. Vox Tablet visited the old-school Jewish establishment in 2013 with Eve Jochnowitz, a lifelong Greenwich Village resident, Yiddish scholar, and Jewish culinary ethnographer, who explained that little had changed on the restaurant’s menu since it opened in 1942 (though it’s no longer kosher-certified).

After posts on their Facebook page updating customers and neighborhood residents of the slow progress of their reopening prompted messages from people who wanted to help them get back on their feet, they launched an online fundraising effort. They raised $1,000 in the first hours of the campaign going live.

“The loss of revenue each day is adding up while we continue to cover taxes, rent, and labor costs,” the fundraising page explains. “Our 73-year-old diner at the heart of the neighborhood needs your help to survive and rebuild after this tragic incident. Please help support our mom-and-pop business and keep alive its tremendous history in the East Village.”

Owner Fawzy Abdelwahad told Eater that the diner likely wouldn’t survive another week closed. They got their gas turned on yesterday, and appear to be on track to reopen in the next few days.

There are some delicious incentives for giving, too. A $50 donation gets you breakfast or lunch for two, and a $150 gets you a 10 percent discount for the year. You can donate here.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.

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