By Bill Parry
Several restaurant and bar owners behind The Skillman Project’s inaugural Festival of Flags are blaming Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath for a slow opening weekend.
The storm delayed the participating businesses from lining Skillman Ave with flags, since the flags were late to be delivered—which dampened the mood. Furthermore, many people were concerned about the victims of the storm and were hesitant to be out having fun.
Nevertheless, many people did stop in to some of the restaurants out of curiosity over the first weekend; however, the crowds were smaller than hoped.
“Many people stayed local because of the transit problems, [however] their priorities were with family in Breezy Point and elsewhere,” said Jean Clancy, the owner of Claret Wine Bar.
Initially, “the storm put a real kibosh on things,” said Mike Murphy, the owner of Murphy’s Bar. “We weren’t able to do some of the things we wanted to do because of the weather. Even getting supplies became a problem, because our cars were low on gas.”
However, in the past day or two, people have begun to notice the change on Skillman Avenue.
Murphy’s Bar is celebrating Jamaica, with reggae music and Blue Point Rastafari Beer on tap all week. The bar now has the Jamaican flag outside and, Murphy said, “People are asking ‘what it’s all about?’”
Ana Kitich, the owner of Cafe Marlene believes that the flags are now doing what she hoped. “We’ve had some people stop in and ask about the Yugoslavian flag hanging outside.”
Flynn’s Garden Inn adopted Poland for the event, and owner Paul Flynn has been surprised by the reaction, “I had no idea there were so many Polish people in the neighborhood. We had a very busy couple of days. The food was gone immediately, and I’m on the third bottle of Luksusowa (Polish vodka) already.”
The Festival of Flags continues through next weekend, and Claret’s Jean Clancy believes a better week lies ahead. “We have Spanish food and wine all week, and Flamenco dancing on Saturday and Sunday. We’re expecting big things next weekend.”
Padraig Connelly of The Dog and Duck said, “The hurricane definitely hurt us, but it didn’t dampen our spirits about The Skillman Project.”