NEW YORK—Three blocks of Orchard Street in the Lower East Side were filled with pushcarts vending unique food, clothing, and more Sunday.
The Lower East Side Business Improvement District (LES BID) started the street fair project in an attempt to revitalize the Orchard Street pedestrian mall.
“Lower East Side right now is known more so for its nightlife than its day life, and we want to remind people that there’s just as many things to do during the day as there is at night here,” said Natalie Raben of LES BID.
The street has been closed to traffic on Sundays for more than 30 years, Raben said, and DayLife’s “street festival party event” feel has been very attractive to Lower East Side residents. LES BID threw a pilot DayLife event in June, which brought in more than 10,000 people.
Sunday’s event started sunny. Then came pouring rain in the early afternoon, but that didn’t deter the vendors and event goers.
“We’ll stay through the rain, yes,” said Saori Numata of Ni Japanese Deli, a vegan and gluten-free shop in the Essex Street Market. The deli was not at the pilot event, and Numata said many passersby had been curious about the cuisine.
“Most Japanese food uses bonito broth, a fish broth, so some people do not want to have it, or cannot have it, maybe because of an allergy,” Numata said, moving her products under an umbrella.
“My baby has a serious food allergy, so I’ve learned from that how to cook without gluten, no dairy,” Numata said. “Food is very important.”
“It’s a nice way for us to see what’s out there, and try new local restaurants that we haven’t,” said Elissa Kazdin, who was at the fair with her family. “This is our first time, we just happened to walk by it.”
Most of the visitors were residents of the Lower East Side, some finding new shops they hadn’t known were just around the corner.
“I’m a big food person, so just seeing all the gourmet artisan food that I haven’t known of yet, or haven’t tried, that was cool to be introduced to,” said Laura Consoli, a chocolatier, who took the chance to sample something from Tache, a local artisan chocolate shop.
“We’ve been open for the past six months,” said Aditi Malhotra, CEO and chocolatier of Tache. The shop carries coffees, teas, hot cocoa, chocolate panini, and chocolate jams in addition to various seasonal chocolate creations.
“The [response] has been amazing, amazing, for sure,” Malhotra said, for both the pilot DayLife event and Sunday’s event. She added that with the foot traffic to the street festival, it also brings a lot of people to their nearby shops.
Aside from food and drink, 15 retailers were present.Haziz Rachid, owner of an oriental furniture shop, brought gift-idea products and home accessories to introduce his shop to a wider audience.
“It’s all handmade products. We’ve got stuff from Turkey, from Morocco, Egypt, Syria,” Rachid said. He said it was the first time he’s done an event like this, and wasn’t sure what the response would be like yet. “The day is still long,” he said.
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