The Waterfront Crab House at 2-03 Borden Ave., which serves up inexpensive and delicious bowls of clam chowder and has papered its walls with boxing memorabilia, plans to reopen in February after being devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
The restaurant, which opened for the first time in 1977, filled with about 7 feet of water when the storm hit on Oct. 29 and has been closed ever since.
“Salt water got into everything,” owner Tony Mazzarella said. “Everything has to be ripped out.”
As of Friday the establishment had temporary power and construction workers had just finished a new hardwood floor and bar, Tony’s daughter Chris Mazzarella said while pointing out the new features.
The walk-in freezers in the basement are being evaluated and refurbished, as well. As for the the signed posters and boxing gloves, for now, they are staying on the walls.
“They are safer there right now,” Chris said. “We may have to throw some things out, but we’ll see.”
The father-daughter team lives in Rockland County. Tony has been visiting the restaurant everyday. Chris comes a couple days a week to help out, but because she is in charge of the paperwork she often has to stay close to a fax and computer at her home office. The restaurant still doesn’t have a phone line.
The business is in a Zone A flood zone and does not have flood insurance. It will be relying on private funds and U.S. Small Business Administration loans for repairs.
“The paperwork is arduous,” Chris said. “We’re going through the system.”
Businesses of any size are eligible for loans up to $2 million, with interest rates of 4 percent. Once an individual is approved for a set amount of money, he or she is not required to accept it, SBA officials said at a community meeting organized by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Queens, Manhattan) in November.
The couple of blocks of Borden Avenue in Long Island City, with the Crab House closest to the water, was the neighborhood’s hardest hit spot.
Unfortunately, the restaurant is no stranger to disaster. It was flooded during Hurricane Irene and hit by a major fire in 2009. But like the sturdy brick building has done in the past, its owner plans to open once again.
There will probably be a grand opening party in February, but advertising budgets are low, Chris said, and they will rely on word of mouth.