A verison of this piece ran in Sheepshead Bites on November 13, 2012.
Rosemary Randazzo watched helplessly as her restaurant, the near century-year-old Randazzo’s Clam Bar in Sheepshead Bay, was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
Through cameras that streamed to her computer, Randazzo, 54, sat safely in her Mill Basin home and witnessed as the front doors broke and water rushed in and tormented furniture.
“The place looked like it was shaking,” Randazzo said. “It was terrible. I watched it until the electricity went.”
Randazzo’s Clam Bar, a five-generation staple on Emmons Avenue, was so badly damaged the electricity has not returned nearly two weeks later, but the owners are poised to have the neighborhood icon make a comeback in time for the holidays.
“Absolutely there will be a re-grand opening,” Randazzo said. “Soon as we get everything out, we’ll bring in new things.”
The restaurant looks as though a bomb exploded in it. There is debris everywhere and workers have discarded furniture and equipment including refrigerators, fryers, ovens, freezers, chairs, and tables. They also have been tearing up the walls to gut out the restaurant, because the family is afraid of mold.
Food that remained in the fridges during the storm such as clams, calamari, lobster, mussels, and salmon was thrown away, because it spoiled after the electricity shut off.
The restaurant didn’t have flood insurance and Randazzo estimated rebuilding will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the family is determined to preserve the business and re-open after Thanksgiving.
“We’re just looking forward to opening again,” Randazzo said.
Randazzo’s Clam Bar dates back to 1916, when it was in the family as a fish market. Helen Randazzo opened the restaurant section inspired by her family’s fish business. She created the top-secret sauce in 1960, which is served even today on the clams.
Randazzo’s continues to thrive as one of the most recognized restaurants in New York City. The seafood bistro has been chosen as the best seafood spot in the city by AOL’s City’s Best since 2005.
“It’s the best restaurant in Sheepshead Bay,” said Frank Cardosanto, a regular customer and resident of Sheepshead Bay for 70 years.
Even though the family plans to rebuild they don’t know when the power will come back.
“ConEdison is not telling us anything,” Randazzo said. “Like we’ve been forgotten.”
She said the restaurant will also start looking at more protection such as flood insurance for future storms.
“Irene was nothing,” Randazzo said. “The day before Irene, I took the kids to the beach. These storms are getting scary.”
Hurricane Sandy couldn’t have targeted a worst time for the family. The Randazzo’s 29th wedding anniversary was last week. When asked if they celebrated, her husband, Paul Randazzo, said jokingly “Yeah, we kissed.”