Nearly two years after it was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and one year after a partial reopening allowed customers to order takeout, Peter’s Clam Bar is back again, this time in all its splendor.
The 75-year-old Island Park restaurant officially opened for the summer by unveiling a sparkling new dining room overlooking Barnums Channel on June 20. Butch Yamali, an Island Park native who purchased the restaurant two months ago from previous owners Dominick DeSimone and Angelo Reunni, cut the ribbon during the opening ceremony.
“It’s a great day for us,” said Yamali, who has been coming to Peter’s for 45 years. “I think people really wanted to see this restaurant back on its feet.”
Yamali said that, since he bought Peter’s in April, 25 to 30 people have been working around the clock to ready the restaurant for its grand re-opening. The dining area alone, which was left under six feet of water in 2012, needed $600,000 in renovations. In addition, the kitchen had to be redone and the heating and ventilation systems had to be replaced.
All told, the restaurant sustained over $2 million worth of damage.
An hour after its re-opening, the restaurant was filled with customers happily eating clams on the half shell and fried calamari. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty were among the first diners.
The menu also features lobster tacos, coconut shrimp, a variety of sandwiches and soft shell crab.
Yamali hoped that the restoration of Peter’s would signal a revival of the entire village, which is still recovering from the effects of Sandy. He noted that the property next to the restaurant is still boarded up, two months after Sandy.
“I grew up in Island Park,” Yamali said. “My mom still lives here. This is an important place. It’s an institution.”
DeSimone and Reunni held a partial opening in April 2013, but were only able to provide takeout service as the restaurant struggled to recover.
The restaurant has been an Island Park fixture since brothers Peter and Leo Sempepos opened it in 1939. The Sempepos sold the restaurant 15 years ago, but offered assistance in the reopening.