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Elise Rosenberg on the Decision Not to Reopen Governor

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Emelie Kihlstrom, Elise Rosenberg, and Tamer Hamawi at their first restaurant, Colonie; Krieger, 02/29/11

Three months after Hurricane Sandy's floodwaters ripped through Governor in Dumbo, the owners have decided not to reopen the restaurant. Pete Wells chatted with co-owner Tamer Hamawi today, who explained that the restaurant raised about $42,000 to rebuild on GoFundMe, plus $13,000 from dinners and events with other restaurants. But Tamer and his team estimated that they would have needed $300,000 to $350,000 to repair the damage. The restaurateur told Wells: "The cost of our debt was coupled with the cost of rebuilding, and with the already high cost of build-out, and the chances of recovering from that are too slim."

This afternoon, Eater chatted with another member of the Governor team, co-owner Elise Rosenberg, about the decision to shutter the restaurant, parting ways with chef Brad McDonald, and how they plan to refund diners that donated money

Did you originally underestimate the damage caused by the storm and how much it would cost? Elise Rosenberg, restaurateur: What happened was that as time went on, the costs began piling up. If we were able to reopen in three weeks' time, it wouldn't have been that much of an expenditure. But as the months went on, the vendors became restless, bills were due, and our construction company became extremely impatient. There were more and more roadblocks being thrown up. I wouldn't say that we underestimated the cost. As time dragged on, it made things harder.

Did your insurance cover any of this? We got no insurance money. So that was a huge, huge disappointment.

Did you make the decision to move on when chef Brad McDonald pulled out? It didn't help the situation, but it wasn't the deciding factor. Brad — we wish that man all the best. He wants to spend time with his family, and that's totally his decision to make, and we completely support that. We were trying to think of others chefs and other options, and seeing what else we could do.

Earlier today you noted that you would refund people that donated to the rebuilding effort. But how are you going to refund the people that paid for dinners at places like EMP? For the people that paid for the dinners, we're just going to send the checks back to the restaurants, and presumably they have the contact information. We certainly can't figure out how to track them down, much less in other cities.

Have your customers from Governor migrated to Colonie and Gran Electrica? We had a business in Dumbo for only a short time, but we really got to know the residents in the buildings nearby. It's really lovely to see all those friendly faces at Colonie and Gran Electrica. The outpouring of support and warmth has been amazing. It's been such a special experience, but knowing that we're going through such a difficult's humbling.
· Governor, a Casualty of Sandy [DJ]
· All Coverage of Governor [~ENY~]
· Governor in Dumbo Will Not Reopen; McDonald OUT [~ENY~]

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