Post-Sandy Restaurant Recovery Stories: Vitae in Huntington Open for Business

Vitae’s bar was bustling on Wednesday evening.

Restaurant Name: Vitae
Location: Huntington, New York
Years in business: A little over a year and a half.
Status: Open for business; no telephone or internet service.
Damage: None.
Losses: A day of service, food loss.
Owner: John Estevez

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

“I was actually working in Manhattan when we had the blackout in 2003. The whole city just came to a standstill, and we had to send everybody home. And, during Hurricane Gloria, I was working in my family’s restaurant. We lost power then, too, but only for a few days. Hurricane Sandy did more damage than Gloria, even though that was a direct hit.”

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

“We worked Sunday, and on Monday, we were closed anyway.”

What have your post-Sandy reopening efforts entailed?

“Tuesday, we closed, but there was no damage to the restaurant. Everyone just took the day off. We came back Wednesday to check on things again and then we met with the chef, cleaned out the fridge and got rid of everything, and while we were there, the power came on, so we decided to get some fresh food and open with a limited menu. Yesterday, we were back to normal except for a few things we couldn’t get.”

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

“We really have no idea what amount of business we’re doing b/c we have no phones or Internet, but we did send an email out yesterday to try to let people know we are here and open. I’m scheduling my full crew and even if we do 20 or 150 covers, we are ready. Most of our staff has no power, so they would rather be here making money than at home. And when you work in a restaurant, it’s like another family. So, everyone is happy to be here.”

Any words to share with Vitae diners?

“I hope that they are getting through the aftermath okay. We are here if you want to stop down and get out. We have some live music this weekend. People are welcome to just stop in and charge their phone or laptop or just have a glass of wine. We’re here to help.”

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