SOUTH STREET SEAPORT —It’s a New Year’s Eve party that’s been more than a year in the making.
Nelson Blue, a New Zealand restaurant and bar in the Seaport, is ringing in 2014 with a bash to celebrate its reopening, 14 months after Hurricane Sandy inundated the expansive Front Street spot with 8 feet of water.
Like many other Front Street shops and restaurants, the restaurant had been closed since the storm because of extensive damage to its building's electrical, heating and cooling systems.
"We always knew we wanted to come back,” said owner Paul Morgan, a New Zealand native, as he stood amid workers feverishly getting his 233 Front St. eatery ready for the New Year’s fete Monday afternoon. “It hasn’t been easy, but we love this neighborhood. It’s where we belong.”
Morgan, who opened the restaurant in 2007, named it after his New Zealand hometown, Nelson — with “blue” added because the Seaport and his native city are surrounded by water. He said the interior will look exactly as it had before the storm tore through.
“We had all the wood interior, including some hand-carved, traditional New Zealand designs, made in Italy,” Morgan said. “We sent all the wood back to Italy, and they repaired it, better than new.”
The many repairs, however, came with a “substantial cost,” Morgan said, though he declined to say how much he had to reinvest in his restaurant to get it up and running again.
Doors to Nelson Blue will officially reopen at 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 for bar service, as well as finger foods.
Morgan said it’ll take about another week for the restaurant, which serves New Zealand favorites such as lamb and green-lipped mussels, to be fully functional, but the bar will be open daily after New Year’s Eve.
"This is one of the only places in the city that celebrates New Zealand's cuisine and wines," Morgan said. "There's still work to be done, but we can finally, after all this time, get back to doing what we love."