Almost a year has passed since Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, and the effects of the storm can still be felt throughout many areas of the city. We asked our friends in the restaurant community to revisit the storm, discuss ways in which they were affected, remain affected, and the overall imprint the storm left on the hospitality industry, and the city at large
Take a look below to see what they had to say, then keep reading for ways you can still help out. If we missed any, please feel free to share them in the comments, along with your own recollections of Sandy
Owner, Alphabet City Beer Co.
"We were a five-and-a-half month-old business when the East River came through our front door. This is a catastrophe for businesses of any age, but when you're young and just getting a cash flow going, it's the scariest thing in the world… But a year later, we're feeling great. Sandy was one of the hardest experiences we could've suffered, but it was also the greatest teacher we've ever had. We learned how to keep our head up when things get stressful, which helps us every day. When things get stressful, I think back to the moment I was standing in my businesses basement, stagnant floodwater up close to my knees, emptying our destroyed equipment and trash. It instantly puts everything into perspective.
Owner, Fatta Cuckoo
"Those three days, I was anxious to get out of bed and head to Fatta to serve the people. I felt I was doing something important and it reminded me of why I opened a restaurant in the first place; to feel that energy of satisfying people and giving my neighbors a place to come to be together and eat and drink. It is a simple idea, and though it was a very difficult time, it somehow felt so simple. When the lights came back on, I had a brief moment of sadness and then I was like, 'don't be [freaking] crazy!' The first phone call I received that evening about an hour after the power went on, was someone inquiring if we would be serving the full menu?? Ha, how soon we forget!
Senior Managing Partner of Blue Smoke
"At Blue Smoke Battery Park City, we were fortunate to open 48hrs after the storm, and the restaurant became a beacon of hope for neighbors and employees alike. Many on our team lost their homes, so we worked together to take care of each other, serving meals, helping them find accommodations, and generally comforting one another. Our 27th St location was without power for a week, and we were in danger of wasting tons of food. The teams worked together to move product from Flatiron to BPC so that the food would not go bad, and so that we could take care of the hundreds of downtown residents who needed a place to land.
Chef, East 12th Osteria
"We were scheduled to open right after Thanksgiving, but because of Sandy, that date was pushed back. And then it was pushed back again to December. That was the goal, but we missed it completely. In order to survive, and eventually open my restaurant, I had to quit my job [at Armani Ristorante] earlier than I planned, and start doing a lot of the construction work by myself. I had no choice. I hired a team and continued building, without my contractor. I did a lot of the plumbing, put up walls, laid tiles, built the entire concrete basement. By myself, I assembled the furniture, and built the restaurant interior, the entire kitchen, everything. I set up the dishwashing area, I put up the stairway to go downstairs. It took months and months -- but we finally opened.
Chef/Owner, Smorgas Chef
"Arriving at Smorgas Chef in the Financial District the morning after Hurricane Sandy, we really learned how hard we were hit by the storm. Cars were literally floating up and down like fishing bobbers outside our restaurant. My wife, Min Ye, and I opened this location right after September 11th, in defiance of the 9/11 attacks, and we were not going to be deterred by a 'little' storm. We were able to renovate the restaurant within a week, and were among the first restaurants to re-open in the Wall Street area.
Chef/Partner, LAVO Italian Restaurant, TAO Uptown, TAO Downtown, Arlington Club, Dream Downtown
“In Staten Island, the boardwalk is still in ruins and hasn’t been addressed. Plus, all the burnt-down and blown-out areas are still in shambles. Out of sight, out of mind. Areas like Manhattan and New Jersey are much better, but there are still a lot of people who need help, a lot of local businesses and restaurants as well.