Reopened catering hall upbeat for village

Decorations are set up during a ceremony and Decorations are set up during a ceremony and news conference to promote the reopening of the Chateau La Mer catering hall following flooding from superstore Sandy in Lindenhurst. (Nov. 21, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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If we can do it, you can, too.

That was the message delivered this week at Chateau La Mer, a catering hall mainstay in Lindenhurst Village that has reopened after suffering damage from superstorm Sandy, including several feet of flooding.

Village officials and catering hall staff said at a news conference Wednesday that the reopening is a small but hopeful sign that Lindenhurst -- one of the communities hit hardest by the storm -- is coming back.

"We want to show everybody that we're still here and we're moving on in a positive way," general manager Nicholas Cascio said. "We want to let them know, if we can do it, everyone can do it."

The facility's lower-level offices and storage spaces sustained the brunt of Sandy's wrath, he said, with furniture, wallpaper and carpeting destroyed. The back patio also was slammed: lights fell, paving stones came off and railings flew in different directions. The catering hall, which faces the Great South Bay and has been in the community for 30 years, went nearly two weeks without gas or power, Cascio said.

Chateau La Mer had to cancel more than two dozen events, he said, ranging from weddings to Sweet 16 parties. The bulk of those have been rescheduled, he said.

Village Mayor Thomas Brennan, who attended the news conference, said Chateau La Mer is an important part of the village. "It's an added step in bringing Lindenhurst back to what it was," he said of the reopening.

Suffolk Legis. Wayne Horsley (D-Babylon), who also was there, said the catering hall's comeback shows the "resilience, not only of Lindenhurst, but of the South Shore." It's a sign, he said, that "Lindenhurst is back in business."

Owner George Voutsinas, whose father built the business, said that seeing the damage from Sandy hurt him but that he put it into perspective. "It's been a big part of my life but it's just a building," he said. "It's nothing compared to what people have lost."

The reopening came just in time for Thanksgiving. A school district organized a free dinner there Thursday.

"These people are not just neighbors; they're family, and that's what Thanksgiving is about," he said. "It's a little glimmer of hope in all this devastation."

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