Business & Tech

Still recovering from the last storm, restaurants brace for another nor’easter

Frank Robitaille (left) and Ray Johnston moved a Coca-Cola refrigerator into Woodman’s of Essex ahead of Wednesday’s nor’easter.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Frank Robitaille (left) and Ray Johnston moved a Coca-Cola refrigerator into Woodman’s of Essex ahead of Wednesday’s nor’easter.

For some restaurants in the region, Wednesday’s nor’easter threatens to spoil dayslong efforts to reopen after last week’s storm brought flood damage and power outages that led to food spoilage and lost revenue.

Restaurants from Gloucester to Plymouth, on Cape Cod and the Islands, were affected by Friday’s storm and historic high tides and flooding, said Bob Luz, president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.

“We have a number of restaurants offline and will remain offline for a little bit,” Luz said. “There’s loss of income for the employees, loss of product, and physical damage to the restaurants, so it’s a triple whammy.”


At Back Bay Bagel Company in Brockton, it was business as usual last Friday until everything went dark around 1:30 p.m.

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“There’s only so much you can do when you don’t have a toaster,” said worker Nicole Pellegrino.

Power wouldn’t come back on until Sunday evening, forcing the shop, which makes bagels and cream cheese from scratch, to remain closed during its busiest time of the week and to throw out all its perishables, including dough, cream cheese, deli meats, and eggs. Workers came in on Monday to clean up the shop, which reopened Tuesday.

“I’ve been in this area 15 years, and this is the worst one yet,” Pellegrino said of Friday’s storm, adding that some residents still hadn’t gotten power back by Tuesday morning. She’s hoping Wednesday’s storm doesn’t knock out power again.

At North Shore seafood institution Woodman’s of Essex, refrigerators were removed from the restaurant prior to Friday’s storm — a move based on hard-learned lessons after January’s nor’easter flooded parts of the restaurant with nearly 20 inches of water, destroying a fryolator and some fridges.


This time, Woodman’s took the refrigerators out of the restaurant, moved other equipment to higher areas, blocked the doors with rubber mats, and left water-removing pumps running inside, said assistant manager Lisa Purdy.

Only four inches of water seeped in this time, she said, even as it “looked like the ocean was outside.”

Co-owner Steve Woodman said Tuesday he is still tallying revenue losses and was hoping Wednesday’s nor’easter won’t be anywhere near as devastating. Woodman’s main concern this time around is that people will stay home.

“Even though it’s a nor’easter, the height of the tide is a lot lower than it was in the last storm and the winds aren’t as strong as they were,” he said. “We’re not sure what it’s going to be, rain or snow. If people won’t be on the roads, that’s the concern.”

What made last week’s storm so devastating were the strong winds that lingered for three high tide events Friday and Saturday, battering coastal areas with flooding that even as of Tuesday had not fully receded in some parts.


Among the areas where flood waters lingered is the Brant Rock section of Marshfield, where Haddad’s Ocean Cafe is located. Despite losing power and sustaining some flooding, the restaurant reopened Sunday — but parts of its parking lot were still submerged through Tuesday, said Sandy Popoloski, one of the managers.

“It’s been tough on all of us that work because of course we’re not making any money,” Popoloski said. “It’s nice to come to work, because none of us have heat; we lost power. ... They say the tides aren’t going to be high [for Wednesday’s storm], so hopefully we’ll be fine.”

Erik Daigle, general manager at East Bay Grille in Plymouth, said the timing of the last storm resulted in “a huge revenue loss” for the restaurant, popular with locals and tourists alike. The restaurant lost power Friday while patrons enjoyed a late afternoon meal, and reopened Sunday despite some flood damage outside.

Daigle said he is still calculating how much food he had to get rid of, and is not looking forward to what Wednesday’s storm has to bring.

“We’re always concerned with any coastal storm. We’re optimistic it’ll be more rain, less wind, but we’re prepared for the worst,” he said. “Some people are still without power. If the storm has damaging effects, and they’re going to be looking for places to eat, we’re still open.”

For John Ohman, the owner of iconic fried clam shack Liam’s on Nauset Beach in Orleans, Wednesday’s storm is irrelevant. The nor’easter and astronomical high tides from Friday and Saturday so severely eroded the beach that his restaurant is now nearly abutting the ocean.

The Orleans Board of Selectmen is scheduled to decide Wednesday night whether the structure should be torn down, and Ohman’s lease terminated. But even if the town votes not to demolish the building, Ohman thinks it will come down.

“Mother Nature may have something else in store,” Ohman said. “Literally, the sand is eating under the foundation right now. It’s in danger of falling into the ocean.”

For Liam’s, Wednesday’s storm might have the final say.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the date of the Orleans Board of Selectmen meeting. The correct day is Wednesday.

Globe Correspondent Laney Ruckstuhl contributed to this report. Katheleen Conti can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti.