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Friday, September 19, 2014

Long Beach restaurants have a tough road ahead
Courtesy City of Long Beach
Lola's was among the many restaurants that were able to reopen after the storm, while many others are struggling after sustaining extensive damage.

Sean Sullivan, owner of Swingbelly’s BBQ, at 909 W. Beech St., which suffered extensive damage in Hurricane Sandy, said that he is hoping to reopen.

“We’re waiting to hear back from another adjuster to find out where we’re at in terms of insurance,” said Sullivan, explaining that his policy covers equipment destroyed by flood water, but not the building. “The kitchen took about four feet of water, so everything was pretty much shot.”

The fact that Sullivan may not be able to move back into his Ocean Breeze condo on West Broadway for months has made things much more difficult for him. “It wouldn’t be so bad to get things done at home, but if you live and work in Long Beach you got hit twice as hard,” he said. “But the people of Long Beach and the West End are resilient. I think it’s going to take more than one big storm to get rid of us.”

Mario Saccente, executive vice president of the New York Restaurant Association’s Long Island chapter, said that unlike homeowners, he believes that restaurants are not receiving the resources they need from the state and federal government. “It’s a shame that there are a lack of resources available to restaurants aside from having to borrow money,” he said.

Saccente said that most restaurants in Long Beach did not have flood insurance because it was too costly, and that many employees have been laid off. “It seems to me that the East End is back in business and the West End isn’t 100 percent back in business yet,” he said. “The Cabana isn’t opening until March; he suffered wind and flood damage. West End Pizza is just selling pizza because the flood damaged his kitchen. But over at Lola’s, he said you walk into his restaurant [and] you wouldn’t even know there was a flood.”

Sam Rejtig, owner of Beach Bagel & Deli at 1090 W. Beech St., a Bellmore resident who is staying in a hotel with his family while his home is repaired, said his business did not sustain major flood damage. “We had some damage up on the roof, but we were able to get the store ready,” he said. “The day the power was restored in that area, we reopened. When residents were coming back in, it was a sense of normalcy for them to come and get a coffee and a bagel in the morning, as well as a place to meet and talk. But when we opened, it was a with a sense of uncertainty; we didn’t know whether any residents would be there.”

While C-Town remains closed, Rejtig said he has stocked up on groceries and other items that he normally doesn’t carry to accommodate West End residents who rely on their local supermarket. He also prepared nearly 300 free take-out meals for residents on Thanksgiving, and is holding a fundraiser to help those affected by the storm.

“It’s time to give back,” he said. “I’m displaced out of my home also, and there’s a sense of responsibility among everyone in the West End.”

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