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BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | Let’s hope that the weather is not too hot and not too rainy this summer. Judging by what happened at the South Street Seaport over the Memorial Day weekend, when the weather is good, the crowds will come.
The Howard Hughes Corporation, which has a long-term lease on parts of the Seaport, hired food vendors to set up on Front St. between Fulton and Beekman Sts. and also placed picnic tables on the stone-cobbled street. Friday, May 24, was opening day, but it was unseasonably chilly with showers. According to one vendor, who was taking orders at Pizza Moto, the first two days on Front St. were a washout. When the sun came out Sunday, Pizza Moto sold hundreds of pizzas.
“We ran out of dough by 7 p.m.!” the man said.
Other vendors on the block are selling oysters, lobster and shrimp rolls, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, burgers, ice cream and Mexican and Japanese food.
Marco Pasanella, who owns a nearby wine shop and is a member of Community Board 1, said, he was “pleasantly surprised” by how the first weekend went. “The execution exceeded my expectations,” he said.
On Fulton St., the Hughes Corp. erected shipping containers in front of the shuttered Fulton Market building and has rented partitioned spaces within them to vendors who are selling such things as sweets, jewelry, inexpensive home furnishings and artwork. However, even in good weather, relatively few people seemed to be venturing down Fulton Street or on to Pier 17. They got to the food on Front Street and stopped right there.
Pier 17 had originally been slated to close at the end of April so that Howard Hughes could begin to demolish the existing mall there and replace it with a new one. Now the merchants on the pier can stay in business until Sept. 9, and they are hoping to recover losses suffered as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
It remains to be seen, however, whether the activity on Front St. is going to help them or not. Also, a few restaurants have reopened on Historic Front Street, between Beekman and Peck Slip, and they, too may be hurt by competition from the al fresco food vendors.