by Grant Moser
out front at the red and white-checked tablecloth-covered
table, with the easygoing "surf" music playing,
and the surfboards, life preservers, pictures and newspapers
clippings pasted in the windows, and the old worn wood around
the door, you nearly feel as if you are near the beach (which
you are in a bizarre sense since we do live on an island).
Where you are is Hurricane Hopeful, soup bar, shaved ice
stand, and brainstorm (or evolving idea he might say) of
When he arrived from Boston to New York about a year and
a half ago, he took a job at the previous incarnation of
Hurricane Hopeful - which used to be a candle/soap/clothes
store. Sargent suggested making the atmosphere more attractive
He started serving apple cider and slowly moving in his
knickknacks, one item at a time. The owners liked his decorative
touches, and the item-import continued. Then Sargent started
serving soup, and the owners (soap opera actors) decided
they were missing too many auditions and that Sargent really
had some good ideas, and they turned it over to him.
"I hope it has a seaside-shanty feel," Sargent
said. "Where you can wait out a storm. Or wait for
one, if you're a surfer." He grew up surfing Cape Cod,
and while waiting for a storm to bring waves in from the
Atlantic, he sold T-shirts out of the back of his car -
Hurricane Hopeful shirts.
He sold thousands of those shirts, and hopes to continue
the tradition here. And the tradition has begun to catch
up with him. People driving or walking by the store will
see the sign and recognize the name from the T-shirts they
bought from him years ago.
It is his history that makes this store important to him.
"I want it to have a very New England feel: Maine,
Nova Scotia, Cape Cod. That's where I hung out. I also based
it on my grandfather's garage, which was packed with stuff."
Packed with stuff is an understatement, as upon first entering,
you wonder if you can fit through to the soup counter. There
are T-shirts, pictures, old stoves, chairs, posters, paintings,
surfboards, plants, and clothes hanging from the walls and
ceilings. There is an aquarium in the base of the counter,
where he once had an octopus. "It escaped. I don't
know exactly how, but it's gone now."
That mishap aside, Sargent has managed to create a homey
and unique place of his own. "It's a fun idea, and
while it seems a bit far-fetched to have a surf-inspired
shop in New York City, it's not preposterous." Apparently,
there is a surfer culture in the city, and surfers do stop
by on the way to the ocean.
However, Hurricane Hopeful is not particular to the surfer
crowd. ""It's got to be a place where most people
feel they can come. I want people to come by and hang out
and socialize. I like that this has a small-time feel, that
it's not a chain store." He encourages neighbors and
families to stop by and is a first name basis with nearly
all of his customers, especially the children that come
in for his shaved ices. (His shaved ices are real shaved
ices, not granular like sno-cones.)
After tasting the soup, I believe Sargent can count on
me to stop by fairly often. Hurricane Hopeful, of course,
carries clam chowder. But it also has Caribbean vegetable;
salmon, potato, and dill; and scallop and corn. Then there's
the Beck's Bahamian Fish Chowder. Damn good soup.
Sargent is planning for the future already, considering:
a knock-off of a Japanese/Korean pocket sandwich that can
be dipped in his soups, whole coconuts chopped open, filled
with shaved ice, and flavoring mixed in the milk; and huge
"out-of-control" ice shaves with azuki beans,
vanilla ice cream, flavoring, and whip cream.
Hurricane Hopeful opened officially in March of this year
and is located at 218 N. 7th St. between Driggs and Roebling.
It is open from 1-9pm Tuesday through Sunday. Stop in. The
storm must come.