Friday, June 26, 2015

Save the B&H

On Second Avenue in the East Village, the B&H Dairy has been going strong since the 1930s when it was opened by Mr. Bergson and Mr. Heller (hence the B&H). It is now run by Fawzy Abdelwahed and Ola Smigielska. And it is absolutely adored by New Yorkers all over town. Myself included.

Since the Second Avenue gas explosion and collapse, the B&H has been shuttered. Fawzy and Ola have consistently paid the rent and bills while they struggle to reopen, but it has not been easy.


Fawzy and Ola, today's mom and pop of the B&H, photo from GVSHP

I spoke to Fawzy who explained the barriers they're facing. Due to the explosion, safety requirements from the city have intensified. Before the explosion, the B&H passed inspection. But now they must upgrade the fire system at a cost of $28,000. To do so, they also require permission from Landmarks and the Department of Buildings. The papers have been submitted, but nothing is moving.

Andy Reynolds, local East Villager and ad hoc advocate for the B&H, says, "Things keep getting pushed back another week, two weeks, month, months. They were OK for the last couple months, but with no income, it’s getting critical, unsustainable."

In addition, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City promised financial assistance to residents and businesses impacted by the Second Avenue explosion, but no funds have made their way to Fawzy and Ola, and no one from the city has been in touch with them.


Mr. and Mrs. Bergson: The original mom & pop, 1950s, photo courtesy of Florence Bergson Goldberg

If the B&H does not get approval soon, and without much-needed financial assistance from the city, they will be forced to close. We cannot let this happen. The little dairy restaurant has a long history in the neighborhood. It is one of the last of its kind, a heritage business in a New York that is losing its New Yorkiness.

Recently, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Councilmember Rosie Mendez held a small business crawl, modeled after #SaveNYC's Small Biz Crawl, for the mom and pops impacted by the Second Avenue explosion. Unfortunately, B&H was unable to open and benefit from these events.

Please write to Speaker Mark-Viverito, Councilmember Mendez, and Mayor de Blasio, and ask that they take action now to expedite permits and funds to keep the B&H alive. We cannot afford to lose this one.

Here's a quick and easy way to do it. Copy, paste, and tweet the following message:

Please save B&H Dairy! @RosieMendez @MMViverito @BilldeBlasio Expedite permits & funds to this EV classic. #SaveNYC http://bit.ly/1BSu4UE





14 comments:

BoFiS said...

Why not withhold their rent until the issues are taken care of? Or at least put money orders into a safe-deposit box after taking a photo for their land lord...I really hope this gets sorted out, this is by far the best and only remaining Dairy Kosher place I know of in the city!

Greek Girl from Queens said...

I don't do the Twitter/tweet thing...but as a born and bred New Yorker (now living in Europe, but still missing NYC)...is there an email address I can send a similar message to?

Andy Reynolds said...

Its not the landlord, who has been very cool, it's the city.

laura r. said...

i ate there everyday fall 1968 -june 1970. 5star clean wholesome simple food. kosher is being replaced w/halal. i do think there are some other dairy kosher places. something on e.57st. but B&H is a landmark.

Anonymous said...

These people are being crushed by a bureaucracy that seems more intent on feeding itself than helping those it serves. Calling it as I see it. This place has been run the same for 85 years, no reason to close it down.

Romy Ashby said...

If they start a GoFundMe or similar fundraising thing to raise money in the meanwhile, I will donate to it and share it widely. B&H is beloved.

Anonymous said...

I used to work in Public Relations. What I would do is write an impassioned letter, documenting B&H's history, positioning it as an historic institution that must be preserved, and asserting the need for immediate action on the part of the city. I'd hand-deliver to the appropriate city personnel. Then I'd take this letter and have it mailed and hand-delivered to various media outlets, various specific individuals and/or columns. One off the top of my head would be Arnold Diaz "Shame on You" (does this still exist?) or similar type consumer reporters who advocate for "the little guy" who's being treated unfairly. I'd generate media exposure to exert pressure on the city. I'd then stage various events giving exposure to my plight, maybe giving out free food samples, all designed to get the media to cover and write stories and exert more pressure on the city.

It Was Her NY/my private coney said...

Tweeted! And Anonymous, you sound like you know how to make this happen! Fantastic! If you organize that I'll support! Also Howard Help Me on Ch. 11.

Anonymous said...

I know its easy to blame the landlord for everything. Blame your beloved progressive Mayor and his ilk for this one. Maybe if unionized city employees with lifetime job security, free healthcare and pensions actually cared about their jobs and were productive there wouldnt be these types of problems. BoFiS had the automatic NYC liberal reaction. Did you read the post? Reforming the way the city treats small business would do far more to 'save' NYC than many of the other proposals. How about the city spends less and lowers property taxes? Coordination between city agencies and fewer bogus 'inspections' and fines would help too. But that requires work from unionized liberal city 'workers'. What a mess.

Anonymous said...

https://twitter.com/darrenbloch - Time to publicly shame the Executive Director at The Mayor's Fund to Advance NYC, Darren Bloch. This hack had the nerve to run for city council against the current council member years ago.

Michelle Cohen said...

Maybe a silly question but have they hired an expeditor? Those people know how to navigate the system...

Anonymous said...

That's quite a coincidence, since $28,000 is about the amount that I myself need in order to be able to persist with my life. Should I try crowdfunding?

mothra said...

Yes there is an incredible Kafkaesque nightmare in the permit process. I have had no gas since Thanksgiving in my LES apartment. It is now July. My leak was fixed within 2 weeks and paperwork was submitted by the licensed plumber multiple times. Good luck to B&H.

Anonymous said...

Where can donations be made directly to B&H?