GREAT KILLS — After Hurricane Sandy's storm surge broke the windows in the dining room and flooded the Marina Cafe in Great Kills with seven feet of water, owner Sam Corigliano considered calling it quits on his 32-year-old restaurant.
The restaurant had nearly $1 million worth of damages, but Corigliano's grandson urged him to rebuild. The family finally cut the ribbon on the renovated spot on Tuesday — more than a year after the storm.
"It's like an early Christmas for me to reopen and get going again," Corigliano said. "Not only for me, but for my staff who waited so long and of which 90% came back to work here."
The waterfront restaurant, at 154 Mansion Ave., was completely renovated with a redesign of the 155-seat, glass enclosed dining room and indoor bar.
In May, Corigliano was able to reopen the restaurant's outdoor Tiki Bar on the dock.
"That was our concentration, to get the Tiki Bar working," he said. "We had a pretty good season out there."
The Marina Cafe opened in 1980 on the waterfront in Great Kills Harbor and serves Italian-Mediterranean cuisine.
Charles McNulty, 74, a realtor who has been coming to the spot for nearly 25 years, said he was excited to finally return to his favorite hangout.
"We've been waiting a whole year since Sandy for it to get back in action," McNulty said. "He's done some beautiful renovations. It's going to be better than it ever was."