Though the neighborhood suffered much less damage than areas like Far Rockaway, Staten Island, or Coney Island, Dumbo gave us some of the most dramatic early images of Hurricane Sandy's effects. There was the water line at Bubby's, which had actually just closed a few days before after losing its lease, and Brad McDonald's eerie shot of the flooding from inside Governor's dining room.
At this point, the highest profile restaurants that remain closed?Governor and the riverfront icon The River Café, not to mention Almondine Bakery?face a lengthy and expensive road to recovery, while even those that have reopened will feel Sandy's effects for some time.
Opened back in July by the team behind Colonie, Governor was coming off a glowing two-star review from Pete Wells in September in which the Times critic credited Brad McDonald's cooking for disproving "the persistent rumors that the neighborhood is surrounded by an invisible fence that keeps out good food." Sandy's flooding soaked the dining room and kitchen, essentially making McDonald and company start over again.
In a conversation with Eater yesterday, McDonald said that he could not yet tell exactly when the restaurant would fully reopen, though he assured that it would be "as soon as possible." Reservations have been cancelled through December, and he said he hoped to open in some capacity?most likely limited?by January. According to Zagat, the full relaunch should happen sometime in February or March.
While it's probably too early to tell exactly how much the rebuilding process will cost, McDonald says his "best back of the napkin estimate" is about a quarter million dollars. This has been offset some by fundraisers held by Eleven Madison Park and Team Momofuku, as well as Governor's ongoing Gofundme campaign. As McDonald puts it, one thing to come out of this experience is that "you do kind of grow together as a community."
The River Café was easily the worst-hit restaurant?and probably the worst-hit business, period?in Dumbo. Like the Water Club, its cousin in Manhattan that was also heavily damaged, the River Café is essentially a moored barge, which makes the rebuilding process trickier. Luckily, says a rep for those two restaurants as well as Brooklyn Ice Cream and the other businesses owned by Michael O'Keefe, the barges themselves are fine, structurally. But as the dramatic images from after the storm show, the storm surge decimated the River Café's dining room, kitchen, and more.
Like Governor, the River Café has cancelled reservations through December and hopes to reopen sometime in early 2013, though the exact date is unknown. Much of the staff has relocated to other restaurants, as chefs like David Burke and Marc Forgione have offered jobs to those out of work. The Dumbo location of Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory also remains closed (though the Greenpoint location, where most of the ice cream is actually made, is open.)
And elsewhere in Dumbo, Almondine Bakery on Water Street remains closed; its shutter has affected the Park Slope location, which has also yet to reopen. Friends and neighbors have set up a Gofundme campaign and a Twitter account to help the badly-damaged bakery reopen.
The Dumbo Business Improvement District is keeping a running list of the restaurants in the neighborhood that have reopened. Across the street from Almondine, 66 Water?formerly Water Street Restaurant, getting a revamp and a new chef only a month before the storm?took on between seven and nine feet of water in its downstairs lounge but was able to reopen the Monday before Thanksgiving, says general manager Brian Ritchie. They've opened a Gofundme account to help with the significant repairs that still need to be made. Likewise Brooklyn Roasting Company, Punto Bianco, and One Girl Cookies all took on water but have since reopened.
As Governor's McDonald puts it, even when the restaurants affected by Sandy are 100 percent up-and-running, things will be different: "You never buy back the emotional loss. You recover, but recovery is never the picture you had before. You don't rebuild the same way it was before."
· All Coverage of Hurricane Sandy [~ENY~]