By Bill Parry
The Waterfront Crab House has closed after nearly 40 years in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City. Visitors to the iconic seafood restaurant Sunday were surprised to learn that three children of owner Tony Mazzarella decided to close down just three weeks after he died.
A sign at the entrance read, “It is with deep regret and heavy hearts that we inform you that due to the passing of Tony Mazzarella we must close the Waterfront Crabhouse.”
The owner was one week shy of his 79th birthday when he succumbed following a long battle with leukemia in January. He had spent nearly $500,000 of his personal wealth to rebuild his restaurant after a six-foot flood surge from Hurricane Sandy nearly destroyed the dining room and kitchen, The famed restaurant, at 2-03 Borden Ave., did not have any flood insurance.
Mazzarella “rebuilt from the floorboards” and reopened 107 days after the storm, saying, “You tell them all: the Waterfront Crab House got wet, but we didn’t drown.”
He was an endearing figure in western Queens for his charity work, especially for childhood cancer. He was the founder of the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame that was headquartered on the restaurant’s second floor. The Crab House was also home to Ring 8, a fraternity of former boxers who help pay medical and housing bills for old or destitute fighters.
Following his death, Mazzarella’s brother-in-law, Bobby Haubert, said, “The Waterfront Crab House will continue to operate. His children Kris, Michelle and Daniel will make sure of that.”
The family is not commenting on the closure, but the sign in front ends: “We are eternally grateful to those that have graced our tables, supported our causes, and have made this the institution that it has become…Thank you for the journey.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr