Iconic Peter's Clam Bar reopens for summer in Island Park

The new owner of Peter's Clam Bar, Butch Yamali, has rebuilt and reopened the business which was heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano stood alongside Yamali and family members of the original Peter's Clam Bar owners on June 20, 2014, during the grand re-opening. (Credit: Jim Staubitser)

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Nearly two years after it was shuttered by superstorm Sandy, the iconic Peter's Clam Bar has reopened for the summer in Island Park.

The 75-year-old restaurant off Long Beach Road has had more than $2 million in repairs. It was purchased about two months ago by Butch Yamali and his company, Dover Caterers, of Freeport.

Yamali cut the ribbon Friday morning for the white-tablecloth seafood restaurant with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano.

Previous owners had a partial reopening in April 2013 but were only able to provide takeout service, Yamali's staff said. Sandy left the dining room under 6 feet of water in 2012.

Yamali, who grew up on Long Island, has been coming to Peter's for 45 years, he said.

"I always looked forward to this opening every April and always felt terrible in September when it closed," Yamali said. "This is an iconic place, and I'm glad to bring it back to what it once was."

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The restaurant was started as a small clam bar in 1939 by two brothers, Peter and Leo Sempepos. While it was a haven for visitors from Manhattan, it drew celebrities every year, including singer Chubby Checker.

Their family sold the restaurant 15 years ago but has offered to aid in the reopening, including sharing family recipes.

"We're pleased the legacy will continue after two generations," said Leo Sempepos' daughter, Ann Costalas.

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By Friday afternoon, waiters were serving baskets of fried calamari, clams on the half shell and lobster tacos.

Fred Rakity, 67, drove from Manhattan for the opening. Rakity said he started going to the clam bar in 1954, and then every Sunday night, while his family lived in Oceanside.

"I have great memories," he said. "It's a historic landmark."

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