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Michael Okwu: Empty streets, restaurant seats

CNN's Michael Okwu without much company on streets of New York on Saturday.
CNN's Michael Okwu without much company on streets of New York on Saturday.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Apart from the odd jogger, New Yorkers had chosen to stay home on Saturday, probably enjoying the little pleasures that come with electricity, such as air-conditioners and working refrigerators.

CNN correspondent Michael Okwu spoke from downtown New York's empty streets with CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield and Lee Hanson, co-executive chef of a famous city restaurant, as businesses try to get back on their feet in the wake of the massive blackout.

WHITFIELD: The air conditioners are humming and the subway trains are running again in New York City and Gov. George Pataki says even that's hard to believe. CNN's Michael Okwu has more in his live report from New York.

It looks a little lonely out there, looks like folks are sleeping now that they got a little AC.

OKWU: Fredricka, folks are sleeping and I actually saw some people jogging -- which is something I had not seen in the past 36 hours or so. Everybody is conserving his energy.

This is what you call the meat-packing district and if you are familiar with New York City you will know that this is very chic downtown spot. It's a spot where the streets are teeming with people late at night. Certainly that has not been the case for 48 hours or so. These streets were in complete and total blackness, just as the rest of New York City, and it is now finally getting back on its feet.

This is a restaurant called Pastis and if you've been to New York City you've probably been told you've got to stop by Pastis. It's a really chic place. In fact we've got one of the co-executive chefs here, Lee Hanson, who is conveniently standing here, as if we didn't plan that.

Lee, how were you affected by the blackout?

HANSON: Very much affected. We lost a couple of services, the lunch, a couple of dinner services. We actually got going yesterday, the power came on late in the afternoon, we put a last-minute crew together, we were able to put a small menu together here in Pastis, and serve dinner from 6 to about 12. We had bar services too. We had a couple of hundred people.

OKWU: This morning I saw huge blocks of ice... the size of whales' heads or something, and they were all sitting out here, wasting away. What was the point of that?

HANSON: That was some of the stuff we use to preserve some of our items. We, of course, lost probably 30 percent of our stuff, 40 percent maybe. As far as meat and fish, we had to block it and freeze it and put everything in and ice it down and save those things.

OKWU: Now, I know you are chef and you are behind cooking all this good stuff. But do you have any sense of how much business you lost?

HANSON: Kind of, I'm trying not to think about it, it's too much. Numbers are pretty big. Especially after the restaurant lost two full days.

OKWU: Are people making it back to work? Because that was an issue as well, right?

HANSON: They're definitely not today, we are seeing some people come in, and we might be a little tight.

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