Post-Sandy Restaurant Recovery Stories: Acqua in Lower NYC Flooded, Rebuilding

The damage to Acqua is extensive, but they are working to reopen every day.

Restaurant Name: Acqua at Peck Slip
Location: Lower Manhattan, New York
Years in Business: Seven
Status: Closed and actively working to reopen by November 20, 2012.
Damage: Major flooding and property damage.
Losses: Possibly 30 days of service; loss of most equipment and food
Manager: Daria Spieler

Prior to Sandy, had you ever had to deal with a disaster situation at this or any restaurant?

“This is the first one we’ve really dealt with. When Irene was here, it wasn’t a problem. We didn’t have water come anywhere near us. This time, we got hit very hard; the whole downtown area is in a bad situation.”

When did you shut the doors to prepare for the storm?

“We closed after Saturday lunch service. Then, we then prepped for the storm, taped the windows, and so on. None of our precautions helped. Neighboring restaurants had their windows boarded, but that didn’t help either. We thought that there would be some water damage, but we could not imagine it would be so much. We had over five feet of water in the restaurant.”

Post-Sandy clean up will require almost round-the-clock work.

What have your post-Sandy reopening efforts entailed?

“We made our way back down to the restaurant on Tuesday morning. We assessed what happened, but even later Tuesday, we could not enter the basement. The water was literally up to the ceiling.”

Can you elaborate on the damage you’re dealing with?

“More than five feet of water poured into the restaurant, completely flooding the basement and damaging everything in it, as well as parts of the restaurant. We just finished pumping out the water, cleaning up, and we’re now trying to see if there was anything that can be saved. Equipment on the main floor of the restaurant has been damaged, too. Refrigerators. POS systems. The OpenTable system didn’t survive. We got the news today that most of downtown Manhattan’s power will be restored by Saturday, but our building is not going to be one of them because the flooding was too severe. The power lines will need more work, so best case scenario is power in a week, worst case is two weeks.”

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing now?

“Raising money. Some restaurants are lucky enough to have a little financial back-up, but the City of New York has been doing construction directly in front of us for some time now, and it has hurt our business and sales have been down. We have reached out to FEMA and the City of New York, of course. There are loans available, and we are working to secure them, but there are thousands of applications and it will take time. One of the loans is for $10,000, which will not cover even a small part of the repairs we must do to reopen. Still, anything will help!”

How can diners help?

“We have created a Fundly page for people to donate. For every donation, Acqua will email you a gift certificate for lunch or dinner at ACQUA! So it is more like an investment or a loan — and for a good cause!”

How is your staff holding up?

“They all have been very supportive. In the restaurant business, you can imagine that a lot of people work from paycheck to paycheck and for them, it’s hard not to be at work now. But every single person is there, helping to clean up and get us back in business.”

Any words to share with Acqua diners?

“We appreciate the help that our regulars have already offered, even to help us clean up. It’s great to be in a city like this, and their support has really meant a lot, and I hope that we can work together to bring our restaurant back in business. This is a small restaurant; it’s our only business, a family business. It means a lot to us that our patrons support us, and we will give back to them as much as we can.”

Click here to make a donation to Acqua’s rebuilding efforts via Fundly. You can also track their progress on Acqua’s Facebook page


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