Despite the flip-flops, Chris Miles had clearly come to his restaurant to work. He wore a pair of frayed camouflage shorts and a white “Connelly’s Rockaway Beach 2013” t-shirt that was peppered with holes, slightly exposing his tan skin. As he sat in a dining room full of unwrapped furniture, contractors worked diligently, installing new lights and booths in the bar area. The room was electric with determination.
On Oct. 17, nearly a year to the day that Sandy wiped out his seafood restaurant on Beach 129th Street, Miles and his business partner Bill Keating reopened the business as Pico, a Mexican eatery. It’s been a long time coming. A year ago, Sandy took dead aim at the neighborhood of Belle Habor, and filled Rockaway Seafood Co. with three feet of ocean. The storm’s massive tidal swells caused an electrical short and sparked a fire around 130th Street. While the fire didn’t consume the entirety of Miles’s business, it did kiss the rear of the building, burning out a storage room and a 15 by 20 foot section of the roof.