The first of many new shops and restaurants planned for Staten Island's north shore is now open. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
It's lunchtime, and the River Dock Cafe is open for the first time. People have been wandering in, and there's even more interest from passersby.
"I'm looking at the menu now and I'm deciding whether to grab something before I go or when I come back," said one passerby.
There are plenty of grab-and-go options inside the ferry terminal, but now, the River Dock Cafe is finally offering commuters a chance to sit down and eat.
With views of the New York Harbor and a menu that's heavy on fish and American fare, the cafe is is giving the 1.5 million tourists a year who ride the free ferry and quickly head back to Manhattan a reason to stick around.
"I just was walking and I said I wanted some seafood today and saw this place and said, 'Let me try it out,'" said one customer.
"You can sit down in here," said another. "A lot of the other places are very small, so it's a little inconvenient."
The cafe has hired 30 people, all from Staten Island. It was supposed to be open by the end of 2013, but design changes and weather-related delays pushed back the debut.
There's a full bar, seating for 80 and, when the warm weather comes, tables will be set up on the plaza outside.
"It's going to be beer-garden-esque style, and we're going to be doing a lot of events like, you know, karaoke nights and live bands," said owner Afshin Himani.
A formal grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held next Friday. That's when the most casual takeout section of the restaurant will be open for business as well.
The takeout counter was designed with commuters in mind, including the hardhats working down the road building the New York Wheel and the Empire Outlets. Those projects are set to open next year, and Himani is hoping the River Dock Cafe will be a thriving business by the time even more tourists head his way.