Gentle Brew, the hip coffee shop located at 151 E. Park Ave., was one of the first businesses to reopen after Hurricane Sandy.
“At first we were doing coffee with propane burners and bottled water,” said co-owner Brian Baquet, 25, adding that the store had about a foot of floodwater. “Most of the cleanup was done by our regulars and people who volunteered. A lot of people came in and said that a cup of coffee was something that they haven’t had days.”
Though they charged residents a dollar for a cup of coffee and gave out free protein bars and other items, Gentle Brew, which opened three months ago, became something of a temporary hub for residents who were in need of clothing.
“My sister, who lost her house here, donated most of her clothing, and shortly after people started bringing in more clothing and food,” Baquet said. “A lot of people who came in lost their entire wardrobes and their belongings and a lot of people came in to get clothing. Socks and jackets were huge.”
Gentle Brew collected so much clothing in the days after the storm that it resembled an Urban Outfitters.
“Our regulars started coming in everyday just to help and a lot of volunteered here,” he said. “Our entire front was full — we had a regular customer who built a clothing rack. It was all word of mouth and we actually had the Sayville Chamber of Commerce contact us, they started sending clothing down with the Fire Department.”
Gentle Brew has stopped accepting donations, and they are giving the remaining clothing to Vietnam veterans.