Sweet relief! Popsicle shop pops up in Red Hook, Sandy be damned

Sweet relief! Popsicle shop pops up in Red Hook, Sandy be damned
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

A beloved Red Hook snack factory that bounced back from Hurricane Sandy has opened a frozen treat shop just in time for summer.

La Newyorkina, which makes Mexican-style Popsicles called paletas, came back from the brink following the superstorm and opened a store in its factory on June 22. The company had previously distributed all of its wares through wholesalers and a mobile cart that is a regular at street fairs. The owner said she is excited to open her doors to the neighborhood.

“We’re looking forward to being more of a part of the community,” said Fany Gerson, Newyorkina’s founder. “There’s not a lot of foot traffic here, but there’s also no ice-cream shop.”

It has been an uphill climb for the small operation. Sandy swamped Gerson’s Red Hook kitchen, destroying nearly all of her equipment, she said. She almost decided not to reopen in the same location, but her landlords offered three months rent-free, giving her time to plot her next move.

“I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get back on my feet,” Gerson said. “I sort of felt like I had something to prove.”

The sweet-toothed industrialist then jumped into gear, seeking not only to start production up anew, but to expand her operation beyond its pre-storm size. She borrowed money from friends and family, but was also greeted with an outpouring of support from her loyal customers. A Kickstarter campaign last summer raised more than $27,000 from more than 400 donors, allowing the company to purchase a pricey paleta-freezing machine.

The show of community support was moving, Gerson said.

“I get a chill when I think about it,” she said. “It’s very exciting and very emotional after everything we’ve been through.”

Gerson and a handful of staffers spent the last several months planning and constructing the new tiendita, or little shop, in a small, unused room in the production facility. A crowd of customers came out for the opening, she said.

The shop will be open on weekend afternoons and Red Hookers looking for a cold-sugar fix during the week will be able to conjure up a treat by ringing a bell.

New Yorkina tiendita [61 Commerce St. between Van Brunt and Richard streets in Red Hook, www.lanewyorkina.com, (917) 669–4591]. Saturdays and Sundays, 1–5 pm.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz