BY LUIS GRONDA
With snow shutting down the City last week, one Forest Hills restaurant took more than just a financial hit.
A Dept. of Sanitation truck jumped the sidewalk on Austin Street last Thursday night, slamming into Exo Café on Austin Street, damaging much of the exterior of the establishment and sending one innocent bystander to the hospital.
Peter Kambitsis, the manager of the restaurant, said much of the awning, as well as the door, were destroyed, and a few of the windows were broken as well as a result of the accident.
“It was like chaos, it looked like a bomb hit,” he said, describing the scene that night.
According to Kambitsis, because the door was demolished, they could not lock up the restaurant overnight. The manager said he stayed at the café overnight to guard against any potential intruders and until a door could be installed.
The restaurant suffered financial damage from the accident as well.
Kambitsis said they incurred about $30,000 in damages and lost about $4,000 in business.
Much of the exterior has been already replaced, but the potential business they could have gotten that night and the next day was lost.
It happened the night before Valentine’s Day and the eatery had about 100 table reservations for that romantic evening.
While some cancelled their reservations for other restaurants, they managed to reopen the café the afternoon after the accident, reopening at 2 p.m.
“Do you know how many women would have been mad if there was no Valentine’s Day dinner?” Kambitsis said.
The incident was one event that occurred during the seemingly never-ending snow the City has been getting this winter.
The snowstorms have forced the City, and its Sanitation Dept., to focus all their resources on cleaning the snow, eschewing its other services like garbage pick up.
Two heads of civic organizations in the Borough said the City’s response to the snow has been good for the most part.
Adrian Bordoni, Executive Director of Woodside on the Move and a Maspeth resident, said the majority of the streets are passable and many of the bus stops have been cleaned off, which is important for commuters who travel by bus.
“We’re all learning to cope with the snow we’ve been getting,” he said.
Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, said while the City has generally done a good job of clearing the snow, one complaint he had was much of the snow has accumulated around the Muni-Meters, making it difficult to pay the fee to park.
“You have to do some sort of acrobatics to put money in the meter,” Schreiber said.
Another hassle caused by the snow, Schreiber said, is there is not as much parking available because of the snow, forcing drivers to finagle their way into a spot.
Both Bordoni and Schreiber said they have not noticed much garbage bag accumulation in recent weeks.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.