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Fair / Windy,48°
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tutti Frutti, other Park Ave. businesses reopen after storm
Anthony Rifilato/Herald
Tutti Frutti employees Sahri Shapiro, left, Dana Vargas and Jenn Banegas returned to work on Friday.

As power was restored to parts of Long Beach over the last week, Tutti Frutti, the popular Park Avenue frozen yogurt shop, reopened on Saturday, one of several businesses along the main business district that opened its doors more than a week after Hurricane Sandy battered the city.

But with many residents still displaced or without power and heat - not to mention an evacuation order and a strict 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew that is still in effect - owner Eric Berkowitz said he decided to open his doors to give his customers some semblance of hope and "normalcy."

Sgt. Eric Cregeen, the Long Beach Police Department's public information officer, said earlier this week that a number of portable light stanchions were installed along Park Avenue and other parts of the city.

"We're trying to get the business district in town lit up and give people a sense of normalcy," Cregeen said. "There are a couple of restaurants running on generators."

On Saturday afternoon, a handful of customers, many of them teenagers, spilled into Tutti Frutti to treat themselves to flavors ranging from Death by Chocolate and Soy Bean Peanut Butter to Raspberry-Pomegranate Non-Dairy Sorbet and Cake Batter, all for 50 percent off.

Berkowitz and his wife, Patty, have been Long Beach residents for more than 25 years. The couple opened the frozen, self-service yogurt chain at 28 W. Park Ave. in April of last year, and the business has become a staple on Park Avenue.

Despite the bleak and often desolate look and feel of parts of the city on Saturday - the enormous piles of debris on many streets and the boarded-up businesses and homes - inside Tutti Frutti, the shop was polished and clean, and employees were ready to serve customers. Other Park Avenue businesses that reopened include Sugo and Long Beach Craft and Variety, though many others, including Gino's and Five Guys, remained closed.

"The store was lucky, we don't have a basement ... we had some sandy water that came in," Berkowitz said. "We threw everything out though. Some of the other guys just had a little bit of water, but it is the electric that has been holding everyone back."

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