Feb. 12, 2013 By Bill Parry
The Waterfront Crab House, the iconic seafood restaurant located at 2-03 Borden Ave., is reopening today, 107 days after it was nearly destroyed by a six foot storm surge during Hurricane Sandy.
The restaurant has been rebuilt from the floorboards to the kitchen. This is the second time the crab house has had to be rebuilt in the past four years: last time, a fire nearly destroyed it.
Owner Tony Mazzarella, a 76-year old former prizefighter, said that he never considered walking away. He restored the restaurant from top to bottom at great personal expense without any relief from his insurance company.
Everything has been replaced, from the kitchen to the seating area and the floor. There’s a new bar, but he’ll no longer have photos spread under plastic across the counter surface. “It’ll be much cleaner,” Mazzarella said.
Most of the sports and boxing memorabilia survived, though some fight posters were lost to the flood. “The whole place is better than it was before,” he said.
Mazzarella can’t wait to open the doors to see his regulars return. He also noted the efforts of nearly three dozen of his staff who helped do the work. His daughter Kris, his brother Butch and his brother-in-law Bobby (who is also his manager) deserve a lot of credit, “They are my World Series team,” he said.
Mazzarella claims local politicians used his devastated restaurant for a photo op and never returned except for Joe Conley, the Chairman of Community Board 2. “That man Conley is good,” Mazzarella said. “He constantly checked in on us since the very beginning. He’s the one guy that deserves elected office.”
Conley said he would attend the reopening and that, “Tuesday will be a very happy day in the neighborhood: the universe will be right again.” He added that Mazzarella does a great deal for the community, and he hopes the community turns out in big numbers.
The Waterfront Crab House is completely staffed and the menu is exactly the same as it was before the flood.
Mazzarella chuckled at the irony that a hurricane nearly destroyed his business of 37 years, and three months later a blizzard almost delayed the reopening.
“Yeah, I thought of that,” said the old boxer, “I guess it’s true: you can’t fight Mother Nature.”