Seaport Report, Nov. 28, 2012

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…
Home is where the heart is — and for Matthew Rosenstein and Nicholas Kurczewski, it was the ground-floor space on Front Street between Jeremy’s Ale House and SUteiShi Restaurant. For three years, they made the spot their home, often watching and waving as people passed by their windows and the door to chat with neighbors and friends.

It all came to an end with Superstorm Sandy.

“We evacuated during Irene last year,” Rosenstein told the Seaport Report. “It was no big deal, so we decided to stick it out this time.”

But as the forecasts grew more frightening, the couple and their black pug Merlin went to stay with friends nearby at 200 Water St. They stowed their belongings, including the ones that had sentimental value, in a loft storage area in their apartment, and stacked lighter furniture and other items on top of the refrigerator and counters. Throughout the dark, bleak night on Mon. Oct. 29, they watched the surge flood the streets and received texts from friends with an even better vantage point.

That night, the water rose more than six feet high in their apartment, knocking over furniture and the refrigerator and smashing a dresser through the wall.

“It was worse than we thought,” Rosenstein recalled. “We lost everything.”

Like almost everyone in the neighborhood, the couple depended on mixed messages — some of them complete rumors — over the next few days. “There was no word [about] what we were supposed to do. We took pictures, started cleaning up, put stuff out on the street to dry out,” said Rosenstein. He and Kurczewski began exchanging emails with the building’s management, Vanguard, which assured them that it would take care of the repairs.

In the meantime, the couple bounced around town, staying with different friends. They even made a stop at the management office, where an employee wrapped her arms around Kurczewski. “We love you guys,” Rosenstein said she assured Kurczewski. “In 30 to 45 days, you’ll be back,” she said, “and it looks like you’ll finally get that new kitchen and bath you’ve been begging for.”

Two days later, they received a call from an agent that crashed their world yet again. The company had decided that, due to extensive damage, it would end the lease and turn what had been their home into retail space.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” said Rosenstein. He refused to discuss the matter with the agent over the phone and demanded the information in writing. Then a letter came, claiming that the owner had the right to terminate the lease that would have run until October 2013 because of a clause in the lease agreement.

The couple was shocked, especially since Kurczewski had offered to extend their lease.

Said Rosenstein, “They offered us a place on the fourth floor — a walk-up — that costs $800 more a month! We want to stay in the neighborhood to be a part of its recovery.”

As if fighting for their home weren’t enough, Rosenstein and Kurczewski have been planning their Dec. 8 wedding before 120 family and friends at Gary’s Loft in Midtown. The honeymoon has been put on hold until they find a place to live.

“People have been really helpful,” said Rosenstein. “Everything else we lost is just stuff. But what’s really hard is losing our sense of home. We don’t have a place to call home now. We want to stay here. The Seaport and the people have a special place in our hearts.”

[/media-credit] Matt Rosenstein sits on his destroyed furniture outside his Front Street apartment.
A Pause at the Paw…
The Salty Paw at 38 Peck Slip is closed indefinitely, but that hasn’t stopped owner Amanda Byron Zink and her staff from servicing their four-footed community. Thanks to the generosity of the Seaport Animal Hospital, located in Southbridge Towers at 90 Beekman St., Downtown’s dogs are still looking spiffy. The pet grooming business has temporarily set up shop in the hospital’s basement. In the meantime, dollar-for-dollar coupons are for sale to help the business raise money. For every dollar you contribute, you receive credit toward services or merchandize once the business is back up and running on Peck Slip.

Status report…
While many restaurants in the ‘hood won’t be reopening for a while, Acqua, at 21 Peck Slip, is trying its best to get back in shape. The restaurant is employing the same technique as the Salty Paw — every dollar you contribute to help the business rebuild will go toward a gift certificate. Details are on its website, acquarestaurantnyc.com. Other places, meanwhile, are just out-and-out fundraising. Salud is collecting donations on its website, saludrestaurant.net, through gofundme.com. And while other neighborhood spots such as The Bridge Café, SamSara Cafe, Nelson Blue, Paris Café, Bin 220 and Keg 229, to mention a few, are closed indefinitely for now, other cherished hangouts like The Cowgirl Sea-Horse, Meade’s and Jeremy’s Ale House have reopened. Be sure to patronize them!

Wrath of grapes…
In a speedy 21 days, Marco Pasanella and his team had Pasanella and Son Vintners completely renovated. Even the beautiful enoteca in the back of the store has been completely restored. Stop by to get a bottle of wine and have a look! The shop reopens on Sat., Dec. 1.