'A good rebirth': Crabby Joe's in Daytona Beach Shores works toward recovery from Ian
Courtesy of Daytona Beach News Journal
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DAYTONA BEACH SHORES — As the clock ticks toward the three-month anniversary of Tropical Storm Ian’s assault on Volusia County’s shoreline, it’s still too soon for the co-owner of one of the beachside’s iconic landmarks to offer a timetable for its damage to be repaired.
“It’s considerable what we’ve got to do to rebuild and get the restaurant open,” said Ray Barshay, co-owner of the historic Sunglow Pier and its popular longtime restaurant Crabby Joe’s. “The assessments and engineering studies, we’re getting all that completed, putting that together and getting the contractors on the job.
“When it comes to labor and materials these days, contractors are hard-pressed to put definitive timelines on things and there’s still some permitting with the state to be done as soon as we can,” he said. “I just don’t have a good crystal ball to be able to say, but we’re moving as fast as our little feet will carry us.”
When Tropical Storm Ian tore into the Volusia County coast on Sept. 29, it ripped away roughly 250 feet of the pier that has been a beloved landmark since it was first built in 1960. It also left behind extensive damage to the restaurant’s main dining room as well as other portions of the operation including its gift shop and other mechanical components.
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“We lost a walk-in refrigerator and a walk-in freezer in our parking lot,” said Barshay, who has co-owned the restaurant and pier in partnership with the Blickman and Hooper families for more than 30 years.
“There will be a lot of stuff to be replaced, whether it’s equipment, furnishings or fixtures,” he said of a process that will involve electrical contractors, plumbing contractors as well as work on fire protection and other systems. “Everything that was connected to the building collapsed from seawall collapse.”
Pier repair is first priority
The initial priority, however, is piling repair and other structural work to return the pier to working order, Barshay said. Although contractors have been selected, he estimates that work might not actually begin until perhaps February or March due to factors such as permitting and material availability.
“We’re looking at February or March to have the material on site, then, with the contractor on board, weather permitting we can get the work started,” he said. “The pier needs to get started, the walkway, the parking lot and the seawall has to get underway. The (restaurant) building will be the easier part. There’s a lot of heavy lifting to be done before that.”
Community has rallied behind restaurant's recovery
In the meantime, Crabby Joe’s owners, managers and employees are overwhelmed by the support that the restaurant has received, including multiple donations aimed at both funding the repairs and assisting the restaurant’s roughly 120 employees in weathering its extended temporary closure.
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Most recently, Crabby Joe’s is among 30 small businesses statewide to receive a donation toward storm recovery efforts through a “Save the Shore” hurricane relief program launched by PepsiCo and the Celsius energy drink company. Crabby Joe’s received $25,000 as part of a total $200,000 donation by the companies for the effort.
“It will go pretty far into helping our recovery efforts, for everything we’ve had to do just getting the building safe to enter,” said Jason Brunges, Crabby Joe’s food and beverage director. “There are a lot of bills and things you don’t think about when you think of making the building safe to work on. Getting the process of the renovation going is what we’re aiming for at this point.”
In addition to the Pepsi/Celsius corporate donation, Crabby Joe’s also was the focus of a locally generated online GoFundMe campaign aimed at helping restaurant employees thrown out of work due to the storm damage. That effort yielded more than $42,000 in donations, an outpouring that offered a powerful reminder of the restaurant’s impact on area residents, Brunges said.
“The community really latched on to that very quickly,” he said. “That really showed how much of an institution Crabby Joe’s and the pier itself is.
“Crabby Joe’s, maybe more so than a lot of places, is a pretty big family rather than a staff of people working in a restaurant,” Brunges said. “A lot of them think of it as a second home. We had people reaching out just days after the storm asking us, ‘How to do we help?’ ‘How do we donate?’ How do we make sure the people working there are set?’”
While Crabby Joe’s has kept members of its management team, including the restaurant’s general manager Nicole Devane, in their roles to help with the recovery, many employees in other jobs have been able to find other full-time work, Barshay said.
“It’s been like a family over the years, even when people come and go,” he said. “But we expect a lot of them will return when we reopen. We’ll have a good rebirth.“