Bay Ridge’s Casa Calamari opened it’s doors again last Thursday, five months after the restaurant’s future seemed to have gone up in smoke. In fact, thanks to owner Leo Lykourezos’s renovations, more doors are open at the popular foccacceria, seafood, and pizza spot than ever before.
Lykourezos says he was devastated when grease fire gutted the joint on 86th Street and Third Avenue — open since 1995 — last October.
“All of a sudden you lose your store, you lose your business, it’s very upsetting,” says Lykourezos. Worse, negotiations with insurance companies, the fire suppression system installers, and the duct cleaning company prevented work on the space from starting for two months. Lykourezos says he ended up paying for more than half the recovery out of pocket, and that he kept his employees on partial pay while the interior was being restored.
But Lykourezos took the renovation as an opportunity, adding doors and windows to look out of both sides of the restaurant, installing granite countertops, and inserting a partition between the bar and the dining area. Gone is the spot’s prominent steam table, and Lykourezos says that from now on, everything will be made to order.
Long-time customers say they’re enthusiastic about the improvements.
“I like it,” says Maureen Brody, who works around the corner. “The booths, the decor, the bar. It’s beautiful.”
Elizabeth and Joseph Monaco, who own Monaco’s Bakery up the street, are also happy to see how Casa has recovered.
“It looks good, the windows all open, the doors all open,” Elizabeth Monaco says. “This place has been a staple in Bay Ridge for a while. They offer affordable food that’s good. It’s great to see them back.”