Ikea Opens in Red Hook;
Park Vendors Save Day
In March 2008, Ikea opened its Red Hook, Brooklyn store – the Swedish home furnishing retailer’s first outlet within the five Boroughs. The resulting snarl of New York drivers – who soon discovered that there's only four city streets connecting the 'Hook to the rest of the universe - created gridlock that stranded some drivers in their cars for up to thirty-six hours.
In April, the long-suffering Red Hook Park food vendors were awarded a special Mayor's Citation for feeding the stranded motorists throughout the ordeal. Days later, the celebrated Latino entrepreneurs were evicted by the Parks Department and replaced with standard hot dog and roasted nut carts, which hold official (but costly and tough to obtain) city vending permits.
In a show of community involvement, many of the displaced vendors were offered jobs by the Ikea store, where they now cook and serve Swedish Meatballs to weary furniture shoppers.
swedish meatballs from Ikea courtesy of Pengrin™ on Flickr