Hurricane Sandy Survivor: Acqua at Peck Slip NYC

A year ago, Hurricane, or Superstorm, Sandy and all her wrath took aim at the Northeast, affecting millions of people and thousands of businesses. Acqua at Peck Slip, located down off Manhattan’s Seaport, was one of many restaurants that suffered severe flooding and extensive damages. Unlike some of their less fortunate counterparts in the neighborhood, Acqua at Peck Slip was able to reopen quickly and continues to thrive a year later, despite losses due to Sandy and continuing challenges in the area. We spoke with General Manager Niki Berti, who reflected on the damage, rebuilding, and being back in business at Acqua at Peck Slip. 

There was a bit of warning before the storm. Remind me, what steps did you and your staff take to prepare?

We did everything. We taped the windows and bought sandbags to put in the front, and, obviously, that was useless. The hurricane started, and water started flowing — from the sewers, from sinks, from drain holes, from the toilet.  Eventually, the river overflowed, so no matter what we would have done, it would have been really bad.

Before it was a street, Peck Slip was a boat slip (Ed. Note: It was filled in in the mid-1800’s.), and we are now on a landfill. A block west is Water Street, where the water once started. It’s kind of ironic then that the water stopped at Water Street. It took back what we took from it.

The damages were extensive.

The basement was fully flooded, and we had a lot of food and wine that was lost, about $30,000 worth. Then, all the equipment and fixtures – fridges, ice boxes, freezers, the stereo, computers, ipads, ipods, POS system — were gone. The bar. The electrical system. That was the water line (see photo below).

What was the recovery process like?

When we were first here after the storm, there were no lights, no electricity. The smell of mildew was terrible. But, we were very, very lucky. The staff helped us demolish the place. We had a company come in and bio-clean it, because this was filled with sewer water. So, everything was completely disinfected. Next, the City came to measure and do whatever they had to do. Finally, we could go on and rebuild.

A lot of the businesses that were destroyed were owned by corporations, and that meant that they were waiting on insurance money to come through before they started rebuilding. A year after Sandy, those businesses are now finally starting to reopen. In that way, our landlord on that way was very helpful. He said, “Just build.”

What was working with the City like? And how about finding the funds to reopen?

The City was very helpful because they were able to grant us loans at a low interest rate. We also have to thank Goldman Sachs for that, I must say. They gave us a lot of loans. Also, thanks to NYC Business Solutions and Robert Walsh, who gave us $35,000 in grants. It’s still a fraction of everything, but it is very helpful.

And, with what I thought was an extremely generous and smart social rebuilding campaign, you raised funds, offering folks who donated a gift certificate for the amount they gave. How successful was that?

A lot of restaurants were asking for money, but we didn’t want to just ask for money outright from customers, so we thought this was a good way to reach out to the folks who knew us, liked us, and wanted us to come back. For customers and friends who pitched in, those donations became gift certificates. Some diners didn’t even want to redeem them. One customer donated $500 and insisted he didn’t even want a gift certificate. With 144 people giving, we wound up raising close to $7,000.

You’d set an initial goal to open within 30 days. Did you meet that?

We opened five weeks and four days after the storm.

Were you able to hold on to your staff while you were rebuilding?

We were able to keep all the staff, except two.

How did the ongoing perception about the Seaport area being so damaged hurt or help you in the months after reopening?

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On Our Plate: National Dine Out Day for Sandy Relief; Save on Taste of the Nation Palm Beach Tomorrow; Restaurant Weeks + More

Taste of the Nation Portland brings together some of the area’s best chefs.

Happenings on and around OpenTable…

* TODAY is National Dine Out Day! Dine at a participating restaurant to support those still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

* Save 15% on Taste of the Nation Palm Beach tickets tomorrow night. Discover more and get tickets now for 6/19.

* Don’t miss Taste of the Nation Maine on June 23rd. Learn more about Portland’s premiere culinary event.

* Portland Restaurant Month is in full swing. Make a reservation for three-course gourmet meals for just $29, June 1-30.

* Indianapolis Chow Down Midtown has arrived. Check out special three-course, prix-fixe meals at participating restaurants, June 10-23.

* Coral Gables Restaurant Week has begun. Take advantage of special $17-$29 lunches and $17-$49 dinners, June 10-30Continue Reading

Make a Reservation for National Dine Out Day on June 19th for Hurricane Sandy Relief

PrintHurricane Sandy happened months ago, but the communities affected by this superstorm, especially those in New Jersey, are still working toward recovery. You can help by observing National Dine Out Day. When you dine out on Wednesday, June 19, at a participating restaurant, a percentage of your check will be donated to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund. To date, the fund has granted more than $11 million to aid in home rebuilding, mold remediation, financial and legal counseling, economic development, and social services such as mental health support and food pantry replenishment.

Participating restaurants include Amanda’s Restaurant in Hoboken, Babbo in Manhattan, and Monsoon Asian Kitchen in Babylon, among others.

National Dine Out Day is a great way for people around the country to get out of the kitchen for a night, dine out at a participating restaurant, and help New Jersey’s victims get back on their feet. Make a reservation for National Dine Out Day on June 19th at one of these participating restaurants in New York or New Jersey to show your support for those still struggling.



Attend Savor for Sandy on 12/16/12: Atlantic City Chefs Unite for Culinary Benefit to Aid Hurricane Sandy Victims thru Wish Upon A Hero Foundation!

Do good while dining out on delicious dishes from Chef Chris Scarduzio and fellow chefs from Atlantic City on Sunday, December 12, 2012!

Join Chef Chris Scarduzio at Table 31 in Philadelphia on Sunday, December 16, 2012, from 6PM-11PM, for Savor for Sandy, a special event to raise money for Caesars Entertainment Atlantic City employees affected by Hurricane Sandy. All of the event’s proceeds go directly to the Wish Upon a Hero Foundation.

Created in partnership with Caesars Entertainment Atlantic City Chefs and The Star Group, Savor for Sandy will highlight the culinary creations of Chris Scarduzio as well as several of Atlantic City’s best chefs, including  Anthony Amoroso, Giancarlo Generosi, Paul Hanley, Keith Mitchell, Joseph Muldoon, Robert Schoell,  Scott Simon, John Whelan, and David Utley.

“I jumped at the opportunity to give back to the community and to help those who are in dire need by offering to host Savor for Sandy,” said Scarduzio, executive chef and proprietor at Table 31. “I know people from Philly and South Jersey will rally around this cause and bring their appetite to support their coastal neighbors, all while enjoying a wonderful night of great food and company.”

Tickets for Savor for Sandy begin at $100 for general admission. Additional sponsorship packages are available that include access to Table 31’s Patron VIP Lounge, hotel packages at Caesars Atlantic City and dining to Mia, also in Atlantic City. Learn more and purchase tickets today!

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