After the explosion in the Lower East Side last month, some businesses on the block were forced to shut down while the gas pipes were replaced, leaving them with piling unpaid expenses.
Among those businesses, was kosher restaurant B&H Dairy, owned by the Egyptian born owner Fawzy Abewahed. He turned to the internet to raise funds to keep the Jewish landmark in business until it can safely reopen, according to the Times of Israel.
He has received $16,050 in donations so far, closing in on the $20,000 goal posted on the site Smallknoit, which gives people the opportunity to invest in local businesses.
Although the explosion occurred on 121 Second Ave., the whole block was affected by the catastrophic event that left two dead and dozens homeless, forcing some establishments to temporarily close down.
“The gas has been turned off since the explosion, and we are the last ones to get our gas turned back on. We are waiting for a final inspection of the new gas pipes scheduled for tomorrow. Hopefully we can reopen after that,” Abedelwahed told The Times of Israel.
Abdelwahed, 41, has owned B&H Dairy since 2003, but the restaurant was originally opened in the late 1930s by a Jewish man named Abie Bergson and his partner, one Mr. Heller. The menu has remained the same over the years, despite having an Egyptian owner and diverse staff. One can still come in an get traditional Jewish food such as latkes, knishes, blintzes and challah.
“I hired a guy to cook kosher food. Everything has always been vegetarian. We have no meat in the restaurant,” said Abdelwahed.
“It was a well-known place, and I wanted to keep it as it was out of respect for the Jewish heritage and the Jewish community. I am so proud to have this place,” he added.
Decades ago the Lower East Side was made up of many Jewish restaurants, but over time they have fizzled out, leaving B&H as one of the last standing. Through three different owners the restaurant has managed to stay true to its original layout, offering residents that hometown feel.
Abdelwahed has been touched by the outpouring of support for his restaurant in recent days.
“It makes me feel as though this place belongs to everyone. We are one family — us, the customers, and the staff,” he said. “I am glad so many people care about us. It’s clear to me it’s not only about the money.”