Longtime home to New York's zany carnival culture and a number of dining institutions, Coney Island was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Much of the area was under four or five feet of floodwater and leaked sewage, and most businesses lost power for days or weeks. Now over a month on, the area and its restaurants are working hard to get back from the storm, a process that will last well into next year.
- The dining room, ready for opening night.
- The temporary lobby as post-hurricane renovations continue. [@Gargiulos]
- Owner Nino Russo with staff on opening night. [@ConeyIslandFun]
The biggest milestone in Coney Island's recovery to date came this weekend with the reopening of Gargiulo's. The West 15th Street restaurant, a local destination for special occasions, lost power and took on several feet of floodwater that destroyed two side rooms in the front of the restaurant, though the dining room was relatively unscathed. With a temporary lobby set up to hide those rooms as construction continues, the dining room's been decorated for Christmas and resumed service on Saturday. The restaurant was even able to host a fundraiser Saturday morning for close to 400 people.
Two other Coney Island landmarks?which garnered a decent amount of media attention last week?fared worse. The original Surf Avenue location of Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs will remain closed until early 2013, as the company attempts to repair "significant damage" caused by Hurricane Sandy. ("Significant damage" is the phrase used by company officials in a piece by the Brooklyn Paper last week.) Nathan's hopes to reopen in the spring, just in time for the busy season in the summer. The annual Fourth of July hot dog eating contest will return in 2013 as well.
Likewise, the beloved original location of Totonno's remains closed. According to a Serious Eats report, the pizzeria took on four feet of flood water that toppled the walk-in located behind the coal-burning oven. Pete Wells relays the news that the family that owns Totonno's hopes to reopen before Christmas.
The shops and restaurants on the boardwalk were spared the worst of the flooding, but they still lost power and, in some cases, suffered wind damage. Paul's Daughter, for example, lost the memorable Mama Burger that stood atop the restaurant's roof. Mama was eventually found, but her burger was lost. She's been replaced on the roof by what appears to be Papa Burger, and the restaurant, after briefly reopening, has closed for the season.
The boardwalk location of Tom's Restaurant, a brand-new offshoot of the Prospect Heights old-timer, was able to reopen quickly, getting power back by the Thursday after the storm and reopening on Friday after a quick cleanup. According to Amusing the Zillion, the Tom's team helped out their neighbors by running extension cords to Ruby's Bar next door, to help power refrigerators and the jukebox for "Small Business Saturday." Ruby's finally got power back this past Saturday.
As the recovery continues, one huge boost to the area is the recently-announced Brooklyn Recovery Fund, which has funneled $100,000 to both Coney Island and Red Hook. To keep track on how the recovery is going, follow #coneyrecovers on Twitter and ConeyRecovers.org.
· All Coverage of Hurricane Sandy [~ENY~]