This year has been a very busy year for us. Simon's niece was born in January. We signed a lease in February. In March, we went to Paris and Simon had Sadaharu Aoki's macarons for the first time. We got married in April. May was our first spring at Madison Square Eats. The paperwork was finally filed and we were well under way with our construction in June. In July, ConEd went on strike for 6 weeks. They didn't come in to upgrade our power until August. In September, we were back at the Hester Street Fair and Madison Square Eats. By October, we (finally) opened our store. Sure, there's a lot of things we didn't expect (ahem, ConEd strike..), but I definitely did not expect that Hurricane Sandy would be strong enough to knock out power for lower Manhattan for several days.
Ever since we got married, a lot of people have asked us when we're going to get started on the kids. This store is our first kid. Right now, it requires all of our attention and over time, we won't have to baby it all the time. I'm here all day. I have left the store for a total of 3 hours while we were open ever since we started over a month ago. I get up in the morning and look at the weather to decide how many cookies to bake each day. I spend 12-14 hours here a day (I'm at the store now) and then go home to continue working on paperwork. I sometimes have bizarre dreams about the store. I sometimes sit at the store for hours, doing nothing but unable to leave. It's my baby and I'm a first time parent, worried about doing things wrong.
We weren't fazed at all when Hurricane Sandy came in on Monday, October 29th - partly b/c we're not open on Monday. We closed up an hour earlier the night before because the streets were getting eerily quiet. I slept in all of Monday morning and Simon hung out with friends in Chinatown. He bought us food and we fantasized about cooking dinner for the first time since the store opened. I was in the middle of catching up on our accounting when our power went out. When it didn't come back on 15 minutes later, we broke out the flashlights and the portable radio. We checked Twitter to see what others had to say. As we came across pictures of cars underwater on Avenue D and a Tweet from Crif Dogs about the power going out, Simon and I went from considering the blackout as an adventure to worrying about our store in the storm. Our store is 5 steps down from street level and I had taped up the door in the event of flooding, but I wondered if it was enough.
Simon paced for two hours, unable to sleep because he was afraid for our store. I told him that if he went, I would go, too. So, we went down 15 flights of steps in the dark, hopped in our car and drove to the store. We saw lights from flashlights, downed trees, and people running across the street like zombies. It felt like an apocalypse movie. Our friend used a hand crank flashlight to check out our store and we were relieved to find that our store was safe from the flooding. We were able to go to sleep that night.
But I was unable to stay asleep. I woke up at 5 am with a feeling of dread. The power didn't come back that night, so it would probably be out for a while. I woke Simon up and we started calling around for dry ice. We weren't able to reach anyone who could help us. We drove around to visit the closest dry ice locations and none of them were open. I called Lowe's in Brooklyn and they said they had 2 generators. Somehow, we snuck onto the Brooklyn Bridge, probably during a shift change because for some reason, it wasn't blocked, and we were the only ones on it. Btw, Lowe's had more than 2 generators.
Getting back, Simon had to name drop his cousin and flash his PBA card since the bridges were blocked for emergency personnel only. We got back to Manhattan, with generators for us and our friends at Melt Bakery.
That week was insane. We woke up early, raced around all day - chasing gas or dry ice - and going uptown to shower. Simon filled up our bathtub with water, but that was our only water at home for the 4 days the power was out. We made instant ramen for meals using a portable gas burner. We made coffee for the neighbors around our store and charged cell phones in every outlet in our generators. People said rude words to us about the sound of the generators. I got to make friends with a few of the residents of our store's building. We got complaints about serving coffee that wasn't boiling hot, because even though it was still over 150F. Two separate people decided to graffiti our awnings. The guys at Crif Dogs helped us get a gallon of gas when we really needed it. People were getting mugged outside of our store. We were able to open our doors on Halloween to hand out macarons to kids, who still dressed up despite the bleak attitudes of adults around them. It was a very intense time period that I think will really make an impact on who we are as store owners.
In the end, we were able to save a good amount of product. Maybe not everything, but we weren't devastated. Probably, if there weren't a gas shortage and lines lasting for hours, we could have saved more, but I am so grateful that we had the resources to pull off what we could do. One of the generators is now in Staten Island. Another helped keep my parents warm in NJ until their power was restored last Sunday. In the grand scheme of things, we were really lucky and we do feel a sense of guilt about others who weren't so lucky. I really hope that people rally together and support those affected out in Staten Island, Long Island, Brooklyn, NJ, and other areas that are still coping. They need help getting back on their feet, too and just b/c we feel like things are returning to normal for us doesn't mean that we can ignore the people still facing the effects of the storm.
November is the month that started off in the dark, but we made it through and even though it was a tough week, we're still standing. We're so glad for the support of everyone. Thank you so much and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.