For a year after Sandy whipped the North Fork with fierce winds and rain, a battered restaurant in Southold has remained closed and broken, a sad victim of the storm.
But on Tuesday, Pepi's co-owner Pepi Nikolov had good news: The restaurant will reopen.
"We're working on it, but we don't know exactly when we will open. Everything goes slowly."
Plans are in place for pretty much the same Italian favorites, but with "way more seafood," Nikolov said.
Reflecting on Sandy, Nikolov said the storm "was devastating. It's still devastating, after one year. It was my living — that was my life," she said. "When you have a restaurant, you are married to that restaurant. You're there seven days a week, 24 hours a day. it's like your child."
But resolute, Nikolov said she's moving forward. "Soon we'll open again and things will be back to normal."
For months, a yellow sign proclaimed the building unsafe; the structure has been boarded up since the storm.
Outside, a placard tells diners to visit the Red Rooster in Cutchogue, run by Nikolov.
Pepi's opened 14 years ago near Port Of Egypt on Route 25 in Southold.
Sandy slammed the outdoor seating deck into the indoor dining area, leaving the building open and exposed.
At the time, Nikolov and her husband Nick said they were uncertain if they would rebuild or move on. "It's not only us who lost," she said after the storm. "My heart goes out to everyone. "