You are reading

Waterfront Crabhouse, a hurricane-ravaged LIC landmark, to reopen in February

Long Island City's Waterfront Crabhouse set to reopen in February
Tony from the Waterfront Crabhouse in Long Island City

Tony Mazzarella

Jan. 1, 2013 By Bill Parry

The Waterfront Crab House (2-03 Borden Ave.), the landmark restaurant that was nearly wiped out by a six foot storm surge during Hurricane Sandy, is planning to reopen in February.

Most held little hope that the iconic restaurant, known for its seafood and sports memorabilia, would ever reopen. However, after 2 months work, a fortune in personal savings and the grit of its well-known owner it is going to be back.

“I’m pushing for Valentine’s Day [reopening],” said owner Tony Mazzarella, “and I’d love to do a Crab House sweetheart deal.”

Mazzarella and his son narrowly escaped drowning in the flood waters that ravaged this low lying section of Hunters Point during the storm. The flood buckled the main floor, swamped the basement and destroyed all the kitchen equipment.

”We had to build everything brand new from top to bottom,” said Mazzarella.

In the aftermath, local politicians deemed the famed restaurant a total loss.  At the time, Mazzarella adamantly declared, “Tell them the Crab House got wet, but we didn’t drown.”

Mazzarella, who was working on the restaurant on New Year’s Eve, was not complimentary of government efforts on behalf of his business.

“The politicians left us for dead, but what do they know. They came for the photo ops and paid us lip service.”

The owner also dismissed the efforts of FEMA, saying that he is only eligible for about  $25,000 in compensation, a paltry amount in comparison to the actual costs of rebuilding the restaurant from top to bottom.

Mazzarella singled out Joe Conley, the Chairman of Community Board 2, for praise. “He’s the only one that’s been with us from the start; he’s deserving of a lot of credit.”

Conley’s office was closed for the holiday, so he wasn’t available for comment.

The Crab House finally got the lights back on two weeks ago, but it’s still without phone service. The new floor was finished a week ago, and work has just begun on the long bar.

“Next up is all the reupholstering,” said Mazzerella.

The three dozen workers who make up the Crab House staff have stayed on and helped in the rebuilding effort in alternate weeks. “All my porters and busboys and everyone else, they’re like family to me now,” Mazzarella said.

This is the second time Mazzarella has had to rebuild during the 37 years that he’s owned the restaurant.

A serious fire shut him down four years ago.

“This is a strong old building: it’s over 120 years old,” he said. The building was once Miller’s Hotel, a gathering place for political types. Theodore Roosevelt,  Grover Cleveland and LIC mayor “Battle Ax” Gleason held court at the hotel.

Mazzarella, a former boxer, draws strength from neighbors and customers who have paid visits since the storm two months ago. “You wouldn’t believe how
many people have stopped by to wish us well,” said Mazzarella with tears welling in his eyes. “It was really heartwarming and it made me want to keep going.”

email the author: [email protected]

6 Comments

Click for Comments 
Pat

You Tony and your building are made of strong stuff.

Good Luck on the re opening …

Kids had my 60th there, (won’t say how long ago) and what a blast ….

The best of all good things wished for your family ,….

Pat

Reply
Doreen Dwyer

Best wishes & Happy New Year to Tony.

I’m so happy to hear you are once again going to re-open.

Wishing you all the best.

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Crunching the Queens crime numbers: felony assaults across the borough on the rise, burglaries down slightly in northern Queens

Feb. 21, 2024 By Ethan Marshall

The number of felony assaults across Queens increased during the 28-day period from Jan. 22 through Feb. 18, compared to the same period of time last year, according to the latest crime stats released by the NYPD Tuesday. At the same time, the number of reported burglaries experienced a slight but noticeable drop in northern Queens.

Maspeth man faces life in prison for 2020 fatal stabbing in Dutch Kills: DA

A Maspeth man who was caught by transit cops vaping inside a Brooklyn subway station in January is facing as much as 75 years to life in prison for stabbing a Dutch Kills man to death four years ago.

Luis Hernandez, 36, of 56th Street, was arraigned Tuesday in Queens Supreme Court on a seven-count indictment charging him with murder, gang assault and other crimes in the fatal stabbing of a 21-year-old man and the attempted murder of two others in Astoria in 2020.