Red Hook’s crab shack’s beach-y looks saved it from Sandy

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn Crab gets great reviews for hurricane survival.

Red Hook’s rustic, six-month-old seafood shack weathered Hurricane Sandy with no serious damage thanks to a beach-y design that gives the eatery the looks — and the durability — of the crab houses around the Chesapeake Bay.

Structural engineer Andrew Goodrich nailed the ocean-side aesthetics that Brooklyn Crab’s owners had in mind when he elevated the three-story Reed Street restaurant 10 feet above street level using a wood pile foundation dug 30 feet into the soil. And that work wasn’t just cosmetic.

“It’s up on stilts and it’s designed for 130 mile-per-hour winds, so that’s a huge part of why it was able to withstand the storm,” said Goodrich, whose Windsor Terrace-based team of engineers spent more than a year designing and constructing the seafood joint.

Waters surged through the ground-level mini-golf course, but the stilt design kept the eatery’s interior and mechanical systems high and dry.

“We made sure that the elevation was high enough for any flooding that would be occurring,” said Goodrich, who stowed all utilities on the second floor rather than in the basement.

Also helpful was the extra deep foundation — which proved particularly important considering the crab shack’s location just 100 feet from the harbor near Van Brunt Street.

“Part of the reason the piles go so deep is because a lot of this is landfill and bad soil,” Goodrich said. “They have go to down deep enough to the good soil where they are firmly embedded and can resist bending, so that they don’t give in and topple over.”

Project manager John Notarnicola worked with Goodrich’s team to build the elevated eatery — one of dozens of stilted houses in his 27 years in the business.

“Strong winds were not able to rock the building or remove any particular part of the roof because everything is connected within,” said Notarnicola. “Every nut and bolt is carefully connected.”

The ocean-inspired design protected Brooklyn Crab, but after Hurricane Sandy passed the eatery’s employees found themselves feeling remorse for neighbors including the Red Hook Lobster Pound, Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies, and Sunny’s Bar, just around the corner on Conover Street, which suffered severe flooding and extensive damage.

“I’m thankful we did not get as damaged as some of the other businesses,” said head chef and partner Jason Lux. “But I feel guilty that the Brooklyn Crab wasn’t hit hard — Red Hook is a family of restaurants and I feel bad for the neighborho­od.”

Homes and businesses in the waterfront community, including the massive Fairway Market at the foot of Van Brunt Street, could not escape Sandy’s fury simply because of the way they were built, engineers said.

“Building codes are not designed for flooding,” said Goodrich, adding that many of the structures in Red Hook are so old that they were constructed even before building codes were in place.

If it were up to Goodrich and Notarnicola, and not city codes, there would be a lot more buildings on stilts in Red Hook and Brooklyn’s other coastal communities.

“My criteria is the closer you are to the water, the higher the elevation on the building has to be,” said Notarnicola. “If you’re in this neighborhood you should be building 10 feet above grade at the minimum. Electrical boxes and gas meters do not belong in the basements knowing that surges do occur.”

Updated 5:37 pm, July 9, 2018: Story updated because there is no Reed Place. We regret the mistake.
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Reasonable discourse

Sal Monella from Van Brunt St says:
Ok, they were able to construct a building that can resist flooding and wind. Maybe now they can work on serving food that is not awful and laughably overpriced.
Dec. 11, 2012, 2:13 am
Bengee from coney says:
Why are emergency generators put in basements which the last time I looked are the first rooms to get flooded out?
Dec. 11, 2012, 6:59 am
Steve from ft greene says:
I went there once & only once. Service was very very bad. When food did arrive. Lets say, I have had better cooking at fast food restuarants. Sorry wont ever go back. I feel sorry for other businesses that didnt survive.
Dec. 11, 2012, 6:26 pm
NotGoish from Prospect Heights says:
The Yelp reviews on this joint are legendary. Nice rewritten press release, Brooklyn Paper.
Dec. 11, 2012, 6:51 pm
Angelo Posada from Park slope. says:
Hey Guys,
This article is not about the eatry, its about the two gentlemen who designed this location with a look at the the article carefully.
These gentlemen are not the owners they are the Engineers, and John is probably the best Project Manager today there is in the country.Even though I do not agree with his political views , he is the only"right winger"that i know that always keeps in consideration climate, pollution, neighbors , structure and friendly design....hard to believe in this world today.!
The man is a genius and a wonderful person, if only all engineers and architects were like him....leave your reviews to yelp......
Dec. 11, 2012, 7 pm
Exrtagoy from crown heights says:
Yelp reviews only for trolls like Goish, spec if you live in Prospect Heights
Dec. 11, 2012, 10:47 pm
jessy from red hook says:
never go there. sucks
Dec. 12, 2012, 12:33 am
J. David Petruno from Red Hook says:
Too bad the food sucks and the service is even worse.
Jan. 2, 2013, 4:27 pm
Brent from Windsor Terrace says:
Why do haters always gotta hate? This place was totally fun, we have two kids and they had a great time playing mini golf while we waited for a table. The food wasn't the best ever, but it wasn't bad. The overall experience was great and the view from the top is unbeatable at any restaurant, maybe the River Cafe has a better view, but this is a close second... Also back on the actual topic of this article, the design of the building is genius, hopefully more establishments in the area will take note and re-design.
Jan. 11, 2013, 11:09 pm
John from DC says:
Today's building codes ARE designed for flooding. Look up ASCE 24 Flood Resistant Design and Construction. Its the consensus standard referenced in the building codes.
May 28, 2013, 3:11 pm

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