NEW YORK— Superstorm Sandy—the most destructive natural disaster to hit New York—was, in fact, a boon for some businesses and restaurants in mildly affected areas.
“Everyday felt like the busiest weekend we’ve ever had, and more,” said Ben Sandler, co-owner of The Queens Kickshaw in Astoria.
Astoria was not deeply affected by Hurricane Sandy. Apart from Monday evening, The Queens Kickshaw remained opened during the week of the storm.
Sandler’s restaurant has been doing well throughout the year and a half it has been opened, but nothing compares to business during hurricanes.
Sandler had originally planned to close the restaurant during Hurricane Irene last year. But Irene’s damage to New York was minimal, and more locals than usual enjoyed the day off by eating out.
“We had a feeling [Sandy] was going to be very busy, like Irene,” Sandler said. “But people didn’t go to work for a week this time, business was off the charts.”
Without subway lines or Internet access, many local residents worked from restaurants near their homes. “It was crazy, absolutely nuts. Every day was 250 percent busier than a normal week day,” Sandler said.
It was bittersweet fortune though. “At the same time, we knew that us being busy meant other people were losing,” Sandler said. “It doesn’t take much to lose a business, in a few weeks you could lose everything.”
Sandler felt he needed to give back with his windfall. On Thursday, 100 percent of the proceeds The Queens Kickshaw makes from 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. will be donated to Occupy Sandy and The Red Cross.
“We were one of the extremely fortunate ones. … We need to give something back,” he said.
Although Waldy’s Wood Fired Pizza & Penne did not reopen until as late as Thursday, the pizzeria profited immensely from the storm—so much that it ran out of cheese by 6 p.m.
The restaurant is located conveniently in Midtown, where many Lower Manhattan residents migrated.
“Business increased dramatically, I would say it was a 150 percent increase,” said Rob Dixon, owner of Waldy’s.
Restaurants such as Big Daddy’s averted major food shortages last week by redistributing the fresh food from their Gramercy Park location, since all food deliveries were canceled during the storm.
Two Upper Manhattan Big Daddy’s restaurants reopened on the morning of Oct. 30, in the wake of the storm.
Manhattan employees from their various restaurants came to help. “The restaurant owner was washing dishes, our City Crab Managers were serving as hosts, and I was bussing tables,” said Julie Zucker, director of marketing for Branded Restaurants, which owns restaurants such as City Crab and Seafood Company, Duke’s New York, and Big Daddy’s.
“There was a tremendous increase in sales, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday when we normally don’t have much lunch business,” Zucker said.
Despite a limited menu, they made extra earnings that broke even for the loss of revenue from a lack of delivery orders.
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