Since it opened in 2001, Crif Dogs on St. Mark’s Place has been a fixture of the East Village, doling out grade-A wieners and cold PBRs to the neighborhood’s huddled, stylish masses. And when Hurricane Sandy hit earlier this week, the dirt-cheap hot dog vendor was among the first businesses to reopen, flicking its lights on and opening its doors at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, at a time when nearly every other building in lower Manhattan was without power.
How did Crif Dogs pull it off? After the blackout of 2003, owner Brian Shebairo became one of the monomaniacally apocalypse-obsessed people known to the media and fans of reality television as “doomsday preppers.” During that power outage, Shebairo “happened to have a generator because I was building a cabin upstate, and the generator happened to be in my loft. I was the only guy on the block who was open,” he says. And since 2003, he’s slowly been acquiring more and more generators, in case it ever happened again.
Last Sunday, Shebairo went to his second home in Vermont and returned to the city with a whopping 180 gallons of gas, installing 8,000-, 3,000-, and 2,000-watt generators in Crif Dogs’ backyard. And though the restaurant owner offered to let neighbors plug into his power, many of them couldn’t get past the machines’ noise. “They literally want to hang me. Like I’ve ruined their life,” he says of those who live close by. “Run your refrigerator for two hours. Watch a movie. I don’t give a fuck.”
(Photo: Robyn Lee/Flickr)