UPPER WEST SIDE — Marion Maur knew there would be obstacles in opening a new restaurant in the neighborhood, but she never expected to pay for a lease for an entire year and only be able to be open for six weeks.
For Maur's Casa Pomona, a Spanish tapas restaurant that opened last December, a litany of catastrophes have kept the doors closed since January — but the restaurant is finally set to reopen this weekend with New York City-based Chef Don Flores appointed to the helm, she said.
During a cold snap in late January, a pipe in the building burst, filling the restaurant's basement — where the kitchen was located — with four feet of water. Fearing a gas explosion, the building was ordered to shut off all gas completely — a condition which lasted three months.
When the gas was finally restored and repairs were made to the building's aging infrastructure, next came the battle with the insurance.
"The insurance companies were claiming they were all backlogged from Sandy," she said, which meant she and her co-owner Sid Gupta had to sit on their hands until the insurance company could come photograph the broken equipment and they could file a claim.
The months dragged on, with still no insurance money in sight.
"If we wait for [the money], we might wait forever," decided Maur. "In July we thought, 'we have to start.'"
Chef Jodi Bernhard waited the crisis out for three months, said Maur, but then she wanted to get cooking. Replacing the chef was a delicate issue because she'd crafted a popular menu that Maur was interested in keeping intact.
Flores, who has worked at the large Midtown eatery Tao most recently, didn't need to reinvent the menu and had a passion for Spanish food dating back to earlier kitchen work at the Soho spot Mercat.
"We have to be successful," said Maur. "The pressure is on."
But she said based on the reception the restaurant received last winter, they're looking for a solid comeback.
"We had seven months to just say 'let’s just give up and walk away,' but the six weeks we were open we had incredible feedback... We’re one of the few restaurants on the Upper West Side that has five stars on Yelp."