HUNTERS POINT — The Waterfront Crabhouse has always been more than a seafood restaurant to its patrons.
The Borden Avenue eatery — known for its menu of oysters, scallops, crab and lobster — is a neighborhood landmark and also an unofficial museum of boxing, where the club Ring 8 has held its monthly meetings for years.
But now the restaurant, which first opened in 1977, will have to start from the scratch, after it was flooded during Hurricane Sandy and forced to close, said owner Tony Mazzarella.
The restaurant, at 2-03 Borden Ave., was inundated in 6 feet of water, Mazzarella said. The flooding destroyed floors, furniture and memorabilia that decorated the walls, including old posters and boxing gloves.
Only the items that had been hanging highest survived, he said.
The restaurant, where customers also enjoy steaks and prime rib, is located in a building that dates back to 1881.
Amid numerous changes in the neighborhood, the Crabhouse had been an outpost of the old Long Island City that was filled with manufacturing jobs.
Mazzarella, 75, said it will take about three months to reopen following the storm.
“I’ll lose the holidays,” he said, “but everybody is safe, that’s what’s important.”
During the storm, he said he and his son didn’t want to abandon the crabhouse, and tried to save as much as possible. They fled when the flooding reached 3 feet.
“I know I’m in the bad area for floods,” Mazzarella said, adding that the restaurant had also been waterlogged during Hurricane Irene. “But not to these measures.”
He estimated damages at the restaurant at about $150,000.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s the building, named "Tony Miller's Hotel" after its then-owner, had been the social center of the area, according to the restaurant’s website.
“This old landmark was patronized by men who have held cabinet offices under our presidents, political leaders like Richard Croder, multimillionaires like Russell Sage, naval officers of high degree, sportsmen and others of international and national reputation such as Theodore Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland (coming off the 34th Street ferry),” the website says.
After the hotel closed in 1916, the building was mainly used as a warehouse until it was reopened as a restaurant in the 1970s.