Tony's Pier, an iconic Bronx restaurant destroyed during Hurricane Sandy, has risen, literally, from the ashes, and is back and better than ever. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Anthony Palumbo, the owner of Tony's Pier, was a little choked up. It was surreal for him to see the restaurant his father put his life into reopen a year after it burned to the ground in a fire caused by a power line blown down during the storm.
"I'm at a loss for words. I really am," he said. "This has been a long time coming."
Now, the eatery that evokes fond memories for so many folks from the Bronx and beyond is back, built stronger to withstand any future storms.
"Now, we've got an all-steel building, steel and concrete. It's completely sprinkled. It has the most modern fire alarm system," said Jeff Weiner, Palumbo's brother-in-law. "Raising the building four feet."
And with all familiar faces. When Tony's burned down, Palumbo and his sister and co-owner weren't only concerned about themselves. They were devastated knowing that their workers would be unemployed, too.
"We've had a relationship with our workers," Palumbo said. "Most of them have been here 20 years, so they've been here quite a bit with me. So I've treated them right, they've treated me right. So that's why they all came back."
The family financed the $2 million rebuilding mostly with their own money, but say they couldn't have opened as quickly if it weren't for elected officials pushing for the project.
"My office has spent the good part of that year cutting through bureaucratic red tape with the state Buildings Department, DEC, the state liquor authority," said state Senator Jeff Klein, the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference.
The reopening of Tony's is just in time for Savor the Bronx, the Bronx's version of Restaurant Week.
"This is the perfect opportunity for Bronxites and people from beyond our borders to support our Bronx restaurants, and certainly, we want everyone to come back and to eat a little something at Tony's Pier," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Savor the Bronx begins November 4. The family plans to welcome the public to Tony's Pier on Wednesday and hopefully keep the doors open for another 60 years and beyond, carrying on the family tradition.