LIC's Historic Waterfront Crab House Opens for First Time Since Sandy
LONG ISLAND CITY — A major fire and a devastating flood weren't enough to keep the Waterfront Crab House down.
The landmark Long Island City eatery reopened this week after it was destroyed by several feet of water during Hurricane Sandy — the second major disaster in the last few years at the restaurant, which was shut down for five months in 2009 after a fire.
"When this happened, it was sort of like, OK — again?" said Kris Mazzarella, whose father Tony Mazzarella opened the Waterfront Crab House at 2-03 Borden Ave. 36 years ago.
But when the October storm hit, it was less devastating than expected, she said, since the fire had already forced them through the rebuilding experience once before.
"We had done this before. We knew the steps that we were going to have to take," Mazzarella said.
"We never took the victim mentality, like 'Why is this happening?' We never actually took that mentality at all. We were just like, 'OK, let’s rebuild.'"
The restaurant, known for its seafood dishes and memorabilia-decked walls, has been almost entirely overhauled since the storm four months ago, with new floors, walls and a brand new bar.
"Everything was basically ripped out to the studs," Mazzarella said.
Some of the restaurant's decor — the antiques and other collectibles that covered nearly every wall — had to be thrown out, but much of it was hung high enough during the storm that it was salvaged.
The Crab House had a soft opening Tuesday, enough time to work out any potential kinks before the busy Valentine's weekend.
"We wanted to just make sure everything is working," Mazzarella said. "In this business, if anything can go wrong, it’s going to."
Customer Mike Iannizzi has been dining at the eatery since it opened, when he used to work nearby at the now-defunct Fink Bakery.
"I worked there for 40 years and I came here every day," Iannizzi said, as he ate lunch at the restaurant Thursday with his wife and a group of friends.
"It's really a wonderful place to come. The ambiance is friendly, warm. We feel at home here, we really do," he said.