After being brought to its knees by Hurricane Sandy, this Queens restaurant is rising from the ashes.
The October 2012 superstorm decimated many southern Queens neighborhoods. Businesses were destroyed, families were displaced from their homes, and infrastructure from subway tunnels and bridges to sidewalks crumbled. The rebuilding of these communities over the past four years has been painstakingly slow.
The community of Broad Channel was one of the hardest hit during Sandy. Bayview Grille and Marina, a beloved seafood eatery owned by Nick and Anthony Martelli and Rob Pisani, was among the familiar community businesses forced to close its doors after the storm reduced the restaurant to a shell.
Many businesses in the area couldn’t rebound after Sandy and subsequently collapsed. But this wasn’t an option for Nick; he knew he had to reopen the restaurant.
Nick traced the long history this property has. His uncle, Anthony Martelli, had owned the restaurant for over 40 years, since 1975. It has gone through a number of transitions, from a fishing station, to a small bar, to a full-blown, sit-down Italian restaurant.
“I came here and I saw how the community enjoyed this place so much,” Nick said. “When the restaurant was gone, something was missing for awhile. The restaurant belongs here and had to be back here.”
But it wasn’t easy. Nick said he and his uncle got no help from the city or from FEMA in rebuilding the restaurant, instead relying on the landlord to finance the renovations.
The progress was slow. Figuring out how much it would cost to replace everything took a while, since the building structure was essentially useless and needed brand-new sheetrock, windows and studs.
“We had no insurance on this property so we had to start from scratch,” Nick lamented.
They’re all hopeful that the old restaurant will thrive once again. But this is going to be a bigger and better Bayview. Nick noted that they had taken this opportunity to change a few things: there will be a new, lighter menu and the restaurant will move toward a more casual, nautical-themed environment and away from the traditional sit-down ambiance.
With a grand opening tentatively slated for May 1, the restaurant hopes to draw customers back for the start of the summer season with entertainment and drink and food specials, and by rebuilding the dock. But this may not be necessary. Longtime patrons are clamoring for information on the restaurant’s return.
“They’re calling, contacting us on Facebook, stopping in, all asking, ‘When is it going to be open?'” Rob said. “The neighbors are happy we’re reopening. When you have nothing and it looks desolate, it’s bad for the value of the neighborhood.”
Bayview Grille & Marina is located at 25 Van Brunt Rd., Broad Channel, NY.