Rosemary Randazzo watched helplessly as her restaurant, the near-century-old Randazzo’s Clam Bar at 2017 Emmons Avenue, 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 community staple, was so badly damaged that it remains without power, heat or hot water more than 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 after the electricity shut off and temperatures rose.
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 marinara sauce in 1960, which is served to this day over clams, calamari and more.
“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.
“Con Edison 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 picked a worse 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.”
– Liam La Guerre