Thursday's explosion in the East Village devastated three favorite neighborhood institutions, all in a row along a short stretch of sidewalk spanning 121-123 Second Avenue. Sushi Park—where the explosion occurred in the basement— Pommes Frites and Sam's Deli were destroyed in the impact and resulting blaze. The small area was like a microcosm of New York, writes the New York Times—a Japanese restaurant run by a Korean family, a Belgian fries shop run by a Bronx woman, and a bodega that's been run by one Indian family for close to 20 years.
Hyeonil Kim, the owner of Sushi Park, spoke recently of his missing employee, Moises Ismael Locon Yac, and three other staff members who were injured, one critically. The Sushi Park owner and his employees have reportedly been searching NYC hospitals looking for Locon.
Customers are taking to social media to express their condolences and thank the three cheap eats havens. "You were my favorite Friday night haunt," Caitlin McDonald wrote on Sushi Park's Facebook wall. The restaurant was well-known in the area for its half-price specials. "You made so many weeks better with your delicious food and kind staff."
"Their sandwiches were great, but the guys behind the counter and the owner were even better," wrote Christina C. about Sam's Deli on Yelp. "I had broken my leg and couldn't work at one point, and they gave me credit until I could pay them back. You don't see that level of kindness in this city often." Sam's Deli was run by the whole extended family, and Sarbjit Bring is anxious about how they will now pay for her 19 and 22-year-old sons' education. "I have no money... everything is my store," she told the Times.
Pommes Frites, after sending an eerie final tweet before the explosion, updated their Facebook page on Thursday afternoon to address the tragedy and send well-wishes to the injured and their families. "You are a treasured part of the East Village," wrote customer Sasha Lloyd. "Heartbroken for you, your staff, and all those affected by this terrible accident."
The much-loved Belgian fry shop plans to re-open "someday soon"—there's no word yet on the future of Sushi Park and Sam's Deli.
If you’re interested in donating money to help those affected by the East Village explosion, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is accepting donations. Checks should be made out to the NYC Mayor's Fund with a note that they are earmarked for the East Village Collapse. In kind donations are not being accepted at this time.