In the days since Hurricane Sandy shut off the lights and flooded restaurants across New York City, the reaction has been rapid and often heroic: kitchens drained, supply lines improvised, staffs reassembled, doors reopened and beleaguered diners fed.
But for many of the city’s 24,000 restaurants, the work has just begun: a long-term overhaul that could change much about the way restaurants operate, even those untouched by the storm.
Owners are re-examining their buildings’ infrastructure and architecture. They are questioning their industry’s tradition of placing kitchens and refrigerators in basements. For the first time, many are realizing a need to set up backup power, communication systems and transportation networks.
“There is no business as usual, going forward,” Drew Nieporent said as he stood at the mahogany bar of his eerily empty Tribeca Grill on Saturday night, hours after the power returned. The restaurant has been a Greenwich Street landmark for 22 years, and Mr. Nieporent described his shock when its subbasement boiler room suddenly took on five feet of water and the basement prep kitchen filled with six inches of slosh.