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Irene's toll, a restaurant's story

La Parma on the waterfront in Port Washington.

La Parma on the waterfront in Port Washington. (March 12, 2010) Photo Credit: Kirsten Luce, 2010

Every business suffers during a power outage, but the stakes are particularly high for restaurants since, unlike furniture stores or nail salons, much of their stock is perishable. Anthony Gralto, owner of four La Parma restaurants on Long Island, is spending Monday assessing damage — actual and potential.

Over the weekend, neither the original La Parma in Williston Park nor the branch in Huntington lost power, but Oceanside and Port Washington establishments were not so lucky.

“Oceanside had to close down early on Saturday,” Gralto said, “and by the time the lights came back on Sunday, it was too late to open. Today they should be back online.”

Port Washington’s La Parma, the most recent link in the chain, sits right on Manhasset Bay. Gralto said that at 11 a.m. Sunday, the water had reached the back door, but by the afternoon it had begun to subside. The restaurant opened for dinner, and at 5:30  p.m. the power went out. The restaurant promptly closed and it remains dark.

During a power outage, the temperatures in a restaurant’s vast walk-in refrigerators and freezers will stay at safe levels for a few days, Gralto said. But beyond that, he’ll need to transfer Port Washington’s stock to one of his other restaurants. Like many restaurant owners, his food is insured but, he said, “it can be hard to collect in situations like this.”

To be reimbursed for spoiled food, a restaurant must show invoices and photographs. Depending on the policy’s deductible, he said, “it might not even be worth it.” And of course the restaurant will only recover the cost of buying the food, not the lost revenue of selling it in a prepared dish.

These are hardly flush times for restaurants. Gralto said that “most of us are working today to pay last month’s bills. When you get a couple of days like this when you lose business altogether . . . it hurts.”

Photo: La Parma on the Bay sits right on the water in Port Washington.

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