BY GIANNA GELOSI
Nearly two months after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the waterfront neighborhood of Babylon Village, much of the area has recovered. But the employees of one destroyed catering hall are still suffering in the aftermath.
The Venetian Yacht Club, which sits along the dock of the Great South Bay, was washed into the water, along with the jobs of most of those employed in the building.
The staff has been sent to sister locations, Terrance on the Park in Queens and Crestwood Manor in Northport. But each is miles away. The shifts are few and far between, and the working conditions have changed.
“I went from bartending at a fancy catering hall to fumbling around in a place that consistently bounces checks while offering an inconsistent work flow,” said former bartender Christopher Sweet.
“Employees have been fighting for shifts now that they are hard to come by,” said a worker who asked to be anonymous. “Many employees have been let go because management can no longer afford their salaries.”
Among those who lost their jobs in the wake of the storm are the company’s head chef and maître’d.
The new reality has stoked hostilities amongst employees, and animosity toward management. Nearly ten members of the wait staff have been fired for reasons such as Facebook posts deriding Venetian Yacht Club management to simply requesting time off.
Other employees have either left on their own, free run 5.0 femmes finding employment elsewhere. More are claiming unemployment benefits due to the storm.
“The place is on lockdown,” an anonymous employee explained, “they’re so ready to fire anyone over anything because they can’t afford to keep us.”
The Venetian Yacht Club is situated atop the Great South Bay — beautiful for summertime weddings, but vulnerable to the evils of Mother Nature.
“The night before the storm when we were leaving work,” former supervisor Turhan Kara recalled, “The water was already knee deep, and the surge hadn’t even happened yet.”
As for the damage that caused the employee bitterness: sea walls collapsed, wrecking the once-picturesque outdoor patio. Floodwater reached the basement ceiling, drowning sales offices, inventory, and a prep kitchen. According to General Manager, Toni Ann Dillon, the damages are estimated at five million dollars. The only aid offered by FEMA is a long-term loan.
The Venetian plans to open its doors in January. “Many of the weddings are either moved to Terrace on the Park or Crestwood Manor,” Dillon explained, “Some have cancelled, others postponed.”
Dillon chose not to comment on the release and treatment of employees. Owners George and Tom Makkos were unavailable for comment.
Despite the recent stresses stirred by the natural disaster, “The Venetian,” as it is commonly known, still maintains its place in the Babylon Village community.
“I have seen a lot of people come together in an effort to restore the Venetian quickly,” Cunningham concluded, “and that is very refreshing to see during these hard times.”
Photo by Scott P. Moore/Babylon Village Patch