In Pictures: Red Hook's Fairway Reopens Today! Mayor Bloomberg and Miss America Visit
Rao Fairway employees gathered for the store's reopening
Fairway's Red Hook location has been closed since Hurricane Sandy thrashed the piers, flooding the waterside grocery store and damaging its internal structure so badly it's taken months to gut and rebuild.
To mark the grand reopening today, Mayor Bloomberg paid a visit and spoke to the crowd in the parking lot -- a mix of excited employees in sweatshirts and tool belts, supportive residents with their young children and dogs, local business owners, and plenty of visitors from outside the neighborhood (the parking lot across the street was at full capacity).
Rao Hundreds of shoppers gathered in the parking lot
"It's a great day for Red Hook," said Bloomberg, "Fairway is back and Miss America is here!" The crowd cheered. Bloomberg called the market the neighborhood's "economic anchor," emphasizing that not one of the chain's 400 employees lost a paycheck while their store was closed.
Rao Local distillery, Van Brunt Stillhouse, set up a booth alongside other businesses in the Fairway parking lot
The reopening is great news for Fairway's team and inconvenienced locals, but also for the neighborhood's entire small-business community of bars and restaurants which have counted on the daily foot traffic provided by Fairway's customer base since 2006.
A few businesses -- Red Hook Winery and Red Hook Lobster Pound -- are also reopening today. While seafood-loving bistro, Kevin's, and Stumptown's roasting facility reopened quietly over the last couple of weeks.
Rao Red Hook locals walk over to show support (and catch a glimpse of Miss America)
Fairway's doors opened officially at 11 a.m. Shoppers will notice that the store has taken the opportunity to fix some design issues during the renovations to its 52,000 square feet. The aisles are a little wider and the dead ends in the produce maze are gone. The bakery section, which was especially prone to traffic jams, has also tripled in size. Good timing, since Bloomberg proclaimed Fairway's onion bagel, "one of the best onion bagels I've ever had."