Jaques Capsouto, co-owner of the Washington Street bistro, told DNAinfo.com New York that he decided to place the 8,000-square-foot French restaurant, which they own, up for rent last week as he decides whether to reopen the eatery, which has been a neighborhood mainstay for more than three decades.
“We have a lot of debt from the hurricane, and we wanted to see what kind of offers we’d get for renting out the place,” Capsouto said. “We’re not sure what we’re going to do yet, but if I get an offer I can’t refuse, I’ll have to take it.”
But the closure of the longstanding spot, first reported by the blog Tribeca Citizen, would be the end of an era in TriBeCa, residents said.
"That would be absolutely tragic," said Community Board 1 Chairwoman Catherine McVay Hughes. "They've been leaders in this community, and they made it through 9/11 — it would be so sad to see the place close down because of Sandy."
Capsouto and his brothers have long been known as pioneering restaurateurs and community leaders, who opened Capsouto Freres long before the neighborhood was a dining destination.
Capsouto's younger brother, Albert Capsouto, an advocate for small businesses struggling after 9/11, had a local park renamed in his honor after he died from brain cancer at the age of 53 in 2010.
Jacques Capsouto said shutting down is not something he wants to do, but it may have to happen. He’s spent thousands of dollars rebuilding the restaurant, as well as his home that sits across the street — both of which were gutted by the storm — and, he said, he simply may not be able to afford to reopen.
“We’re still paying debt from loans we took after 9/11, plus we’re getting no money from our insurance and we don’t know yet if we’ll get FEMA money,” Capsouto said. “There’s only so much you can do.”
"We'll see what happens," he added. "Things change, but if I have my health, my family and my friends, I can get through anything."