Some five months after that horrific, fatal explosion and fire on Second Avenue shut them down, the beloved 73-year-old East Village diner B&H Dairy reopened at 9 a.m. this morning to the delight of a handful of locals.
Well, it was actually more like 9:23 a.m. when it opened—slow-baking challah was apparently to blame—and, given the default NYC attitude of impatience, there was, even after all this time, a smattering of instinctive grumbling on the line.
Once inside however, all of the familiar sights, smells and vegetarian and kosher tastes prompted spontaneous cheers and bursts of applause among long-time patrons who greeted the staff like the old friends that they are and feasted upon their favorite breakfast dishes.
A father and teenage daughter, next-door neighbors who had only just been allowed back into their building 10 days ago after "playing refugee" for five months, devoured piles Challah French Toast. Bowls of B&H chilled Borscht were another popular option, with a young woman telling me how much she's missed this breakfast all summer.
Another regular didn't even have to say a word; an Apple and Cheddar Omelet with "extra-burnt" potatoes was placed before him as if the last five months hadn't happened; he planned on eating here today for lunch and dinner as well. I followed his lead with that omelet, by the way, and it was perfect in that old-school diner way, it came with the home-fries, coffee, and two slices of just-baked, lightly-buttered challah, and the whole massive meal cost eight bucks.
All of which may sound a bit hyper-local, news-wise, but the East Village has lost more than its fair share of iconic institutions of late, so the fact that B&H hung in there, with support from loyal customers via a couple of crowd funding efforts to get through, is reason for this to feel like a win for all New Yorkers.