The lesson she took from Sandy? Make her bayside restaurant mobile.
As November approaches, all that may be heard on the chilly bay in Union Beach is the shrill calls of crows combined with the squawks of seagulls. But largely full silence. Now that fall has set in, you would not even know the empty pavilion is residence to the favored eatery, JakeaBob’s Bay.
Staff packed up the now cell restaurant a few month in the past.
“It’s very quiet,” proprietor Angelita “Gigi” Liaguno-Dorr mentioned Tuesday. “Across the street is our trailer, so everything goes there.”
More than 10 years after Hurricane Sandy devastated JakeaBob’s, Liaguno-Dorr says she’s settled into the routine of her seasonal schedule. Pack up the restaurant by the top of October, begin engaged on her menu in January or February, and begin establishing once more in May.
“I’m better. I’m better now. The rebirth did it,” Liaguno-Dorr mentioned whereas discussing how the native staple had a document 12 months this previous summer time.
“You have to learn to turn,” she added. “Just go with it, as best you can.”
Even a decade later, the 59-year-old proprietor, like many New Jerseyans, continues to be recovering from the harm brought on by the historic storm. Sandy claimed 38 lives and brought on an estimated $30 billion in harm to the state — destroying numerous companies and leveling or leaving greater than 300,000 houses uninhabitable.
Liaguno-Dorr mentioned getting again on her ft after Sandy took time without work.
The evening the storm hit, she and the employees went residence after sandbagging every little thing.
“It didn’t matter how high we went. It was all gone,” she said during an interview this fall at her reopened location, now an outdoor patio and bar. The one-story, 2,200-square-foot restaurant building with its signature teal roof, the centerpiece of JakeaBob’s, was destroyed by the storm.
“There was just stuff everywhere,” she said. Liaguno-Dorr pointed to a blue house a block away and said the restaurant’s tiki bar ended up in the yard there.
It took a while to revive the business. In 2013, she reopened in a temporary location they called “JakeaBob’s Off the Bay” whereas additionally serving to with the neighborhood’s aid efforts.
“It was powerful. We needed so desperately to provide again to companies and the neighborhood, to place some life again into the city,” she mentioned, for a time with Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen. But after a 12 months, she mentioned they needed to slim their concentrate on reopening on the bay.
“We really had to channel our energy into trying to figure out what we were doing here,” Liaguno-Dorr mentioned. JakeaBob’s went on hiatus till 2016, when she reopened in a seasonal format, versus year-round.
The tiki bar was put again, however every little thing basically went cell “in case we need to take off.” They reopened, from May to Labor Day, and choose up October 31 annually.
When COVID struck, she was pressured to shut once more in 2020. This summer time, nevertheless, JakeaBob’s was again in enterprise and at its peak.
“I am a very competitive person by nature. I always try to beat the previous year,” Liaguno-Dorr mentioned. “Every year since we’ve reopened, we’ve outperformed the year before. I hope this is a trend we will continue.”
Union Beach Mayor Charles W. Cocuzza described the Monmouth County district as a blue-collar “bedroom community” made up primarily of families. Since Sandy, the population of Union Beach – in 2012 consisted of more than 6,200 people – has decreased to just over 5,500. A dip that the mayor attributed to Sandy.
But businesses have mostly recovered, Cocuzza said.
“JakeaBob had a building, but they don’t anymore. Now they have an outdoor facility that only stays open for the summer, but the (business community) is great,” Cocuzza mentioned. “The Dowlings eatery, Anchor Inn, was affected however they had been capable of get again up and operating.”
Still, it’s not easy for Liaguno-Dorr to think back on the storm. Liaguno-Dorr sometimes talks about the aftermath at the restaurant bar as she talks. Other times swearing repeatedly.
“The deck you see, that was the original deck. We just put it back,” she pointed out. She did not put the building back. It was replaced by a mobile kitchen, mobile bathrooms and mobile refrigeration.
The former indoor bar and seating area seated 100 on its own. Now she struggles with seating for the same 400 or so guests on the wood-framed patio and bar outside. JakeaBob’s has always been mostly an outdoor eatery. Now, it just is what it is.
How a lot did Sandy value Liaguno-Dorr?
“I do not know. I by no means thought of it that approach. When we misplaced the constructing, we did not get a lot insurance coverage. What we put in through the years,” she said. “I’m going to at the very least over $2 million say. Maybe even three.”
She still owes about $600,000 in loans from the state’s economic development authority.
Like others, Liaguno-Dorr also had problems dealing with insurance post-storm.
“It was an absolutely tumultuous horrible experience,” she exclaimed. “I’ve said it so many times; the things you do to prepare for an unfortunate event. You pay your premiums. You make sure you do your due diligence. We’re doing our part, so you think, but then there’s always this little bit of language in there that we don’t understand.”
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Steven Rodas could be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @stevenrodasnj.