A Lower Manhattan restaurant and bar that's been serving its neighborhood since the 18th century is still struggling to figure out how to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
The Bridge Cafe is a city landmark in the shadow of another landmark, the Brooklyn Bridge. It's been a place to get food and drink since 1794. But more than two months after Hurricane Sandy left it badly damaged, the cafe remains closed.
"All refrigeration, all electricity, 85 percent of the wood in a wood frame building, 85 percent of the wood in the basement has to be replaced, and that's structural," said Adam Weprin, the owner of Bridge Cafe.
Weprin and his family have owned the place since 1979. He expects repairs could cost upwards of $30,000, and he's not sure the damage will be covered by insurance. But he said he still desperately wants to reopen.
"My heart actually carries, for better or worse, and maybe this makes me a bad business person, but my heart carries a lot with this place because my father started it," he said. "I walk in here, my father's presence is here. My father, unfortunately, is not on this Earth."
As Weprin formulates his plan to rebuild Bridge Cafe, he said his biggest concern is whether the neighborhood will ever be viable again.
"It's scary right now," he said. "It's like Chernobyl. When you walk around this neighborhood, it's a ghost town."
Longtime neighborhood residents said the area will definitely bounce back. They hope the Bridge Cafe and all the restaurants in the neighborhood can find a way to reopen.
"I want my neighborhood back," said Jeffrey Catalano, a resident of the neighborhood since 1978. "I want these people to be successful. And it's not about me. It's about the community."
"They're going to reopen because they have resilience," said Shelly Simpson, a resident of the neighborhood since 1980.
Those two are not alone. A small blackboard outside the restaurant carries messages of encouragement, pleading for the institution to come back. Weprin said he is hearing those calls.
"It's the oldest continuously running bar in New York City since 1794," he said. "We don't want that to stop on my family's watch."
Weprin said he hopes the Bridge Cafe will be back in business serving food and drink sometime in the spring.