Staten Islanders have asked for a sit-down restaurant overlooking the water at the St. George Ferry Terminal for years, and now, it seems their wishes are finally being met, as plans are taking shape for a restaurant offering just that. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
Every year, more than 1.5 million tourists ride the Staten Island ferry from Manhattan, taking in free views of the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline.
Many, including a pair of visitors from Germany, said they're a bit disappointed when they get to Staten Island.
"I was expected a lot more of nice restaurants, cafes, something like a promenade," said one of the visitors. "Something to go to. More tourists. More other people. I didn't expect it so gray. And there isn't anything."
So, as is often the case, the tourists got back on the boat and headed back to Manhattan without ever leaving the ferry terminal.
Staten Island officials, and the city's economic development agency, are working to change that.
The latest attempt, announced during the annual State of the Borough address Thursday night, is the opening of the River Dock Cafe, offering residents and tourists a sit-down restaurant experience.
"There will also be an additional 2,000 square feet of outdoor dining space overlooking the waterfront," said Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro.
The EDC said that nearly 90 percent of the terminal's retail space is occupied, and while there are plenty of fast-food options, no other businesses offer a formal dining experience.
The River Dock Cafe will serve seafood and American fare and a full bar, and, officials hope, give people passing through the terminal a reason to stop and stay a while.
"People always look at it as the forgotten borough," said one resident. "Hopefully, this will help us out."
The restaurant comes as part of an ambitious plan to revitalize the St. George area. Also included in the plan is the world's largest observation wheel, a new hotel, and the city's first outlet mall. They are all already in the works near the terminal.
"They all have a symbiotic relationship and kind of help reinforce the other and spur more development and more progress on Staten Island, hopefully for the benefit of the entire city," said one person.
The River Dock Cafe is expected to be open by the end of the year.