Two Sheepshead Bay businesses closed for months after nearby gas leak

Connie’s Pizzeria reopened on Dec. 4 after having been closed for seven months following a gas leak at a neighboring building.
Photo by Corazon Aguirre

Two Sheepshead Bay businesses have been shuttered for seven months and counting after a nearby gas leak knocked out their gas service — leading to months of delays and pricey construction repairs, according to the small business owners. 

Connie’s Pizzeria and Vanka Cafe — both on Nostrand Avenue — closed on April 24 after utility company National Grid found the leak at the US Army Recruiting Office, which houses the main gas valve for all the businesses on the block between Avenues Y and Z, according to social media posts from Vanka Cafe. 

“We are still waiting for National Grid to turn on the gas at our restaurant. We are working around the clock to get this resolved as soon as possible,” read a June 13 Facebook post. 

And while other businesses could reopen their doors amid the gas shut-off, the two eateries — who need gas to cook — were required to conduct a slew of repairs to their restaurants in order for the city Department of Buildings to deem it safe enough to resume gas service. 

Both businesses were required to pay for the costly repairs out-of-pocket before the utility company would restore service, according to a National Grid spokesman.

“Both customers had issues on the piping inside the buildings that was their responsibility to repair before we could safely restore service,” said the spokesman.

After National Grid returned service to the pizza joint on Dec. 4 — two days after the restaurant finished its repairs — but city officials claimed the eatery never received the required clearance from the Department of Buildings, and forced them to close yet again on Dec. 17.   

Meanwhile, Vanka Cafe has conducted an estimated $3,000 worth of pipe repairs, and a spokesman for the Buildings Department said Vanka Cafe passed its inspection on Dec. 16 and that a gas authorization request filed the following day is currently under review. 

“For us, it was a lot of money to spend,” said Marina Ashurov of Vanka Cafe. “Now, we are just sitting and waiting.”

Ashurov hopes to reopen on Jan. 8 — more than eight months since its closing in a saga that the owners are excited to see come to an end.  

“We are told we should be open in a few weeks,” said the owners on social media. “We can’t wait to put this all behind us and continue to serve our community with our homemade food.”