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As a public service, NY1 provides special coverage of Hurricane Sandy's aftermath with no login required for video content.

River Cafe Rebounds from Hurricane Sandy

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TWC News: River Cafe Rebounds from Hurricane Sandy
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A New York institution that was shut down by Hurricane Sandy is now getting ready to once again serve customers. Brooklyn reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following story.

Hurricane Sandy ruined the old piano at the River Café, so owner Michael O'Keeffe is testing out the new one custom-made to replace it.

"It was just all compromised,” says O’Keeffe. “We had several people look at it, try to save it, and we had that made special and we just couldn't save the delicate parts."

One of the city's top-rated restaurants is getting ready to reopen after Sandy wiped out much of it. Six weeks after the storm, the restaurant was in need of major repairs.

O’Keeffe explains, "There was the danger of mold, so we had to tear up all the walls and replace it; take out all the insulation, replace whatever studs we had with heavy duty galvanized steel; and then special insulation which is mold-proof, fire-proof, waterproof."

Building stronger is one of the reasons it's taken this long to get back to business. O'Keeffe says he's now exceeded all of the mandatory elevation codes. It also took him time to replace all of the specialty items, including the state-of-the-art appliances and the chairs crafted in Paris. Damages here were in the millions.

"You may be able to go out and buy the equipment for hundreds of thousands of dollars,” notes O’Keeffe, “but the labor is many times that."

Then there was the impact of being shut down for more than 15 months.

O’Keeffe says, "We lost a lot of business -- a lot of business. This is one of the busiest places in America."

Now he's getting ready to be busy once again. While O'Keeffe says he may have a soft opening during the week, he says his doors will definitely be open by February 1.

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