Updated 01/05/2013 02:49 PM
Coney Island Eatery Celebrates New Year With Free Meals For Sandy Victims
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Tom's Restaurant in Coney Island served hundreds of free hot meals on Saturday to local business owners and neighbors who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Restaurant management collaborated with the ConeyRecovers initiative, the Mayor's Fund, the Met Council and other charitable organizations on the event to help celebrate the new year with the Brooklyn community that has eaten there for three generations.
"We do what we can. We're a family place and we worry about the community," said Billy Vasilios, the manager at Tom's Restaurant. "One hand washes the other."
Dozens of diners enjoyed breakfast staples like pancakes, eggs and french toast and then those who came for lunch enjoyed burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches and Philly cheesesteaks.
One diner, Coney Island resident and business owner Edwin Cosme, told NY1 he is still struggling day to day to get back on his feet after Hurricane Sandy.
"We lost power, we lost heat, the floors buckled. We sustained considerable damage," Cosme said. "We had to replace a lot of things and rebuild and we are still in the rebuilding process."
Cosme said the aid he needs to rebuild cannot come soon enough.
"We've been trying to rebuild my second business. One business I rebuilt with my life savings that I set aside for that business. We are out of funds now to rebuild the second business," he said.
"People are down, people have lost everything. But you know what? They have their health, they have their life," said Brooklyn Councilman Dominic Recchia, who also attended the event.
Workers at Tom's Restaurant said their business was one of the lucky ones during Hurricane Sandy. Due to its location on the iconic Brooklyn boardwalk, the eatery suffered minimal damage and was able to open a few days later.
"It is nice for everyone to get together and help the victims of the disaster," said one of the diners.
"It is good to sit with my husband and my daughter, because he is always working trying to get the business back on," said another. "This is relaxing and we had a nice meal here."
A hot meal may not fix peoples' problems, but it helped take their minds off of them.