- Application deadlines
- Waterfront planning
BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | Shortly before 4 p.m., Sara Williams, co-owner of Fresh Salt in the South Street Seaport, hoisted up the grates covering the windows of the old brick building at 146 Beekman St. A chalkboard by the entrance announced that, “Fresh Salt is open!”
Flooded by Superstorm Sandy, the restaurant was closed between Oct. 28 and Dec. 19. “We’re now open from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. every day for drinks,” said Williams. “On Thursday Dec. 27th, we’ll be open 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. every day for food and drinks — fully operational.”
The storm trashed the interior of Fresh Salt, a neighborhood haunt that Williams and her partner, Jason Connolly, opened in September 2004. Visitors who “discovered” it and locals who made it their hangout liked it for its friendly service, its moderate prices, its ice-cold beers and its comfort food menu (mac and cheese, meatloaf, sandwiches).
It took weeks of intensive work to clean out the debris and begin to rebuild. A few days prior to reopening, the work went on 12 hours a day. The electricity and heat came back on, but not the phones, scuttling Fresh Salt’s take-out business.
“We have yet to tally all the damages, as I have not gotten the final bill from the contractor,” Williams said, when asked to estimate Fresh Salt’s financial losses
She said that she and her partners, Connolly and the building’s owner, Michael Swier, had applied for a grant from the Downtown Alliance, which is awarding up to $20,000 to Lower Manhattan businesses with storm damage. They are not applying for loans at this time, she said. Like many Seaport businesses, Fresh Salt did not carry flood insurance, though the partners did have interruption of business insurance.
The building in which Fresh Salt is located has a distinguished history. It was completed in 1885, designed by George B. Post, who also designed the building on the corner of Beekman and Front Streets for Ellen S. Auchmuty, a descendant of the wealthy Schermerhorn family. The corner building is ornamented with terra cotta cockleshells, fish and starfish.
Post was one of the most prominent New York architects of his time. His commissions included the New York Stock Exchange, the New York Times building at 41 Park Row and the Produce Exchange, now demolished, at the foot of Broadway, which he was working on at the same time that he designed the Fresh Salt building.
In the early 1900s, fishmongers used the building at 146 Beekman Street. In 1915, smoking rooms were built on the upper floors to smoke haddock, eel and cod.
Artist Naima Rauam, who had a studio and gallery in the building in the 1980s, recalled that, “In the last 30 years or so, until 1997, cod was smoked once a week, as demand for smoked fish abated. It was the last smokehouse in Manhattan.”
The restaurant, Fresh Salt, takes its name from the faded advertisement painted on the front of the building. “Fresh, Salt and Smoked Fish,” it says.