After getting battered by Hurricane Sandy, Coney Island's top dog is biting back as crews are putting the finishing touches on repairs to the new Nathan's Famous set to open Memorial Day weekend. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report
Sandy hit Coney Island hard, and the iconic hot dog stop at Surf and Stillwell Avenues was not spared.
"When I drove up I was flabbergasted by the extent of the damage, the whole restaurant was completely flooded out," said Nathan's Famous Senior Director of Operations Bruce Miller.
But after months of hard work, the original Nathan's is set to start serving up franks again by Memorial Day. The place is going to look a little different too.
"You can't go back to the way it used to be 50 years ago. You have to make everything current to code, so Nathan's took the opportunity to not only bring everything up to that level, but also to take a opportunity to provide a better service for our customers," Miller said.
The restaurant's interior has been redesigned, with counter and service areas laid out in a more modern fashion. The sidewalk counters on Surf Avenue have been moved inside, while new additions include a new clam bar, incidentally serving oysters for the first time in 30 years.
Changes have also been made to protect the place from future storms.
"We used to have all of our utilities in the basement, so we brought everything above flood line, so if something should happen again it won't knock us out completely," Miller said.
Nathan's return means this year's big Fourth of July hot dog eating contest will be extra special, says long-time host George Shea.
"New York and Coney Island in particular were struck really hard, but we are back, you can just feel the goosebumps because people are going to want to be here," Shea said.
As work on Nathan's continued, members of the local community board met at Tom's Restaurant on the boardwalk Friday to talk about the struggles of other businesses to bounce back.
"It's more due to monetary funds that they haven't gotten from their insurance so they are coming back but not as quickly as we would like them to," said Community Board 13 Chairman Eddie Mark.
For fans of Nathan's Hot Dogs coming to Coney Island before the original location re-opens, you can get still get one at the boardwalk location which wasn't as heavily damaged during the storm.