While many businesses on Cross Bay Boulevard are open once again, over a month after Sandy, the case isn’t the same for stores along a small strip in Howard Beach’s Coleman Square.
The majority of establishments in “town” as many residents call it, are still shuttered over a month after the hurricane swept through the Northeastern United States.
Stores like Sal’s Food Market, Spotlight Dance Factory and Neighborhood Pizzeria remain closed along the commercial strip that’s just steps away from the Howard Beach-JFK Airport subway stop.
One place that is open is The Rail Bar &Grill, which sits on the corner of the strip.
Danny McCarthy, a bartender at the watering hole, and Jim Hennessey, a regular and Howard Beach resident, both said that about 8 feet of water came into the bar and it suffered extensive damage from the storm, which claim is over $200,000.
“The bar itself moved and floated,” McCarthy said, describing the damage.
“Beer boxes were on top of the bar, and those things weigh a ton,” Hennessey said.
McCarthy said the bar was closed for about a month until it reopened last week. He added that business has been slow since then because many people in the area are still busy cleaning up and fixing their property.
The bartender said it’s going to take a long time before the bar fully recovers. Currently, they are able to sell beer bottles, cans and liquor but they do not have a tap system for serving glasses of beer and are storing the drinks in coolers with ice because they do not have any refrigeration yet.
Other stores currently open are Fuleen Palace, a Chinese restaurant and the Liquor Cabinet.
Joe’s Hair Salon is closed but a sign posted on its window promises that it will reopen on December 18.
As for McCarthy, he said that even though they are now open, the road to recovery is still a long one.
“At least we’re still alive,” he said. “So we got to move forward.”
By Luis Gronda