Post-Sandy Restaurant Recovery Stories: Porter House New York Fully Operational

Porter House New York is serving a full menu, including their signature Porterhouse steak!

Restaurant: Porter House New York
Location: Midtown Manhattan, New York
Years in Business: Six
Status: Open, no internet access.
Damage: None.
Losses: Two days of service.
General Manager: Chris Miller

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

I was in Hurricane Katrina.

Wow. So, how did that inform what steps you and your staff took? 

We just thought about the safety of our employees, first and foremost. We didn’t want anybody to get hurt. We just wanted them to be able to take care of their families and come back when they were able.

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

Sunday night.

What have your post-Sandy reopening efforts entailed?

When we opened for Wednesday lunch, it was really about making sure the dining room was back in order. We had secured everything, so that if we did have anything blow out, the damage would be minimal.

What are some of the challenges you’re facing?

We do a lot of online reservations, and right now, we’re not able to do that. There are a lot of people in town for the race, and they are looking for restaurants, so we’d like them to know we are here to serve them.

How can diners help?

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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?

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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?

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Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts: No Restaurant Left Behind (or Why Dining out Post-Disaster Matters)

Many restaurants in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy are open or will be soon. Show your support by dining out often.

Like many millions of people, I lost power on Monday evening. Tuesday evening, by candlelight, I whipped up a fierce batch of risotto with local-caught clams that I had in my quickly losing-its-chill refrigerator. By Wednesday, though, nothing in our fridge was safe for consumption. And the thought of spending another night sitting in the dark was entirely too much to bear. Seriously, candlelight gets old FAST, folks. And, I figured, as most of you already have, that some local restaurants would be serving. And I figured right!

We walked into one of our favorite spots to find smiling hosts, warm lights, hot food, upbeat music, and even laughter. More than the delicious dishes, though, it seemed that we were all there for the sense of community and camaraderie (Okay, I may also have been there for the beautiful bottle of Barbaresco we enjoyed!). We traded stories of darkness, damage, and delays with other diners, while gently reminding one another that spotty cell service, while inconvenient, isn’t a tragedy. The time we spent there was the perfect recipe for relief.

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