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Fort Tryon Park Restaurant Sees Business Dip Post-Sandy

By Nigel Chiwaya | December 27, 2012 9:47am

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — As New York continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy, one uptown eatery is still feeling the effects of the storm.

New Leaf Restaurant and Bar, located in the heart of Fort Tryon park in Washington Heights and founded by actress Bette Midler, is dealing with slowed business in the aftermath of the storm, which hit right at the start of the restaurant's winter slow period.

Like several other parks in Upper Manhattan and around the city, Fort Tryon was hard hit by the storm, as high winds knocked down more than 100 trees in the park. Fort Tryon was closed for 10 days after the storm, and while New Leaf avoided structural damage, it too was shuttered during the cleanup.

"We took it on the chin," said Scott Campbell, New Leaf's head chef, who added that trees were down all over the area. Campbell recalled one of the first days back in the park after the storm, when a customer showed him the park's flagpole.

"It literally had been ripped out of its casing," Campbell said. "It was like someone took one of your kids because it was such an icon."

Life has slowly gotten back to normal at Fort Tryon Park. The felled trees are being removed and the flag pole has been chopped up. Yet New Leaf, which has drawn rave reviews from Zagat and the New York Times during its decade of serving new American cuisine to uptown diners, said that business has yet to return to normal.

"I think that it sent shock waves that hit a lot of people," Campbell said. "I think a lot of people said 'I don't know if i feel as celebratory.'"

Despite the rough times, Campbell said that the staff at the restaurant isn't hanging their heads or resorting to any specials or discounts to lure customers back.

"Patronizing and doing something foolish isn't who we are," Campbell said. "We're going to keep offering good hot chocolate, good food, good service."