The saying goes, “too many cooks spoil the broth,” but in the case of unwelcome guest Sandy, there couldn’t be too many cooks in downtown Rye.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
The saying goes, “too many cooks spoil the broth,” but in the case of unwelcome guest Sandy, there couldn’t be too many cooks in downtown Rye. Typically with inclement weather, downtown becomes a ghost town, rendering restaurant tables empty and their kitchens dormant. This hurricane, however, made Rye’s restaurants a hot commodity. In a twist of fate, while Rye’s residential neighborhoods suffered widespread power outages, many eateries were open for business.
Like bookends, Poppy’s Café on one end of Purchase Street and Patisserie Salzburg on the other, were open for breakfast the morning after. Poppy’s sign, “Good Morning, Let the Stress Begin”, was never truer. “We had the busiest day in 28 years,” said owner Gerry Massinello. “Customers were five deep and out the door. Our cook, Lynda Derenzis, never missed a beat.”
The coffee shop, which normally closes at 3 p.m., stayed open until 6. When they ran out of food, Gerry’s husband Robert rushed over to Restaurant Depot in Mt. Vernon to replenish the kitchen. “At Poppy’s,” Gerry said reflectively, “God was our generator.”
At Patisserie Salzburg, owner Manfred Hirz estimated that a 1,000 coffee and hot chocolate orders were filled. He sold record-breaking numbers of buttery croissants and cheese Danishes, about 500 of each every day. “I didn’t expect it, so I was shorthanded. It was Stress 1001,” he admitted.
Behind the counter, Kristen Abbatantono concurred, “It was insane. We had a line wrapped around the building towards the back parking lot. We could hardly keep up with the coffee and kept running out before we could make more.”
At Town Dock, Mo told us they never lost power, and only lost cable only for a few days. The joint was jumping! “We were very busy. Most people wanted comfort food — meatloaf and Guinness stew were in high demand. And we were there to provide it.”
Rye Grill and Bar co-owner Mike Fabry shared a similar experience. “It was more overwhelming than we thought,” he said. “On the Tuesday after the storm, where normally we’d do 100 lunches, we did 400. By Wednesday though, we were ready with more staff and more food. We were lucky that our purveyors were able to come through as well.”
On both Tuesday and Saturday nights that week, Rye Grill broke 700 covers. “We’ve only done that three times in our history,” said Fabry. “I felt badly that we had 1½ hour waits.”
Aurora’s manager Adam Zakka also sympathized with Rye residents. “We tried to accommodate everybody and anybody because so many people were put out. We felt badly and wanted to give them a place to warm up with hot food.” The restaurant was bustling all through the week.
Next door at Watermoon, crowds swarmed in as well. Instead of their usual heavy take-out business, patrons lingered. Cashier Lulu Ma observed, “The restaurant was packed. People wanted to stay here longer to stay warm. They didn’t have heat at home.”
At Sunrise Pizzeria, the large ovens were on overdrive. The popular pizza place was busier than ever for take-out and eat-in every hour of the day all week. Owner Alex Policicchio lost count of the record-breaking number of regular and Sicilian pies sold.