LOWER MANHATTAN — Three-thousand pounds of coffee, 10,000 chocolate truffles and thousands of dollars of equipment were destroyed last year when Hurricane Sandy’s floodwaters ripped through Fika, the popular Swedish cafe in the Financial District.
Despite the overwhelming damage, the owners of the 66 Pearl St. eatery were determined to rebuild. After months of work, they now plan to reopen in early April, co-owner Hakan Martensson said.
“We took a beating — really everything was ruined,” said Martensson, 30, also the shop’s master chocolatier. “But we’ve gotten so much love from that store — and get emails and calls every day asking when we’ll be back — we just couldn’t leave.”
After months of gutting and reconstructing their devastated space, Martensson said the Fika team is looking forward to once again serving up their lattes, Swedish meatballs and hand-crafted chocolates.
The planned reopening comes on the heels of the growing chain's recent expansion to TriBeCa.
Last month, Fika, which means “coffee-break” in Swedish, opened its fifth outpost in the city at 450 Washington St. That location, which is just steps from the Hudson River, also suffered flood damage in last fall's storm.
The repairs for both the TriBeCa and Financial District locations came with a hefty price tag, totaling about $500,000, Martensson said.
Despite the major setbacks, he said Fika's owners are staying positive and continuing to expand their brand, selling their coffee and chocolates at Whole Foods and Dean & DeLuca, and developing product lines including jams and granola.
In a couple of weeks, the TriBeCa location will become the first Fika to serve wine and beer, Martensson said.
Martensson is also excited about eventually starting a chocolate-making school — the Fika Chocolate Academy — out of the expansive new kitchen attached to the TriBeCa shop.
The open kitchen, which is visible from the street, is already attracting chocolate lovers who are curious to see how Fika's confections are made.
Martensson, who left Sweden in 2006 to help launch the first Fika on 58th Street, near Sixth Avenue, said he also envisions new Fika locations on the Upper West and Upper East Sides in the next couple of years. Fika's existing cafes include two spots on Park Avenue, at 23rd and 28th streets.
"It hasn't been an easy time over the past few months, but we have a lot to be happy about and to look forward to," Martensson said. "You have to keep looking forward — I consider us lucky."