NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – After 244 days of being closed to rebuild, Chase’s on the Beach finally reopened this week after being destroyed by last year’s hurricanes.
“It’s a whole new Chase’s,” said Joe Ryan, the restaurant’s general manager. “We’re bringing kind of an upscale look to New Smyrna, but are we still a beach bar? Yes, we are.”
With a new look and revamped menu, Ryan said he and his staff took the devastation of being forced to close and turned it into a way to upgrade the iconic beachfront hot spot.
“Looking back, because I can see pictures of what it was and what it is now, we’re back,” he said.
The restaurant was one of dozens of buildings on Volusia County’s coast to collapse last fall after storm surges brought by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.
“Oct. 30 was the last day we were open. We were originally starting to do remodel from the damage from Ian,” he said.
Then, Hurricane Nicole came and took down much more.
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“We were almost brought to tears. We couldn’t fathom we’d have so much destruction,” Executive Chef Nico Douchand said.
Instead of letting the 54 employees go, the managers made them part of the rebuilding team.
“I’ve been in this field for 18 years and I’ve never really taken time away from it to do construction, but I’ve learned a lot,” Douchand said.
There are still some projects the restaurant has to finish. The pool will open Friday, the rest of the back deck will open in about a month and a half and the seawall is still being repaired.
Ryan said the restaurant’s engineer and team at BCC Construction redesigned the place to withstand even stronger storm surges than those that brought it down.
“This place could literally be under 10 feet of water and it’s not going to raise up,” he said. “A storm won’t take us down again.”
The restaurant was originally built in 1995. Locals said its reopening is a sign the coast is finally returning to normal.
“It’s wonderful. We’re just so glad to see things that were damaged in the hurricane finally coming back,” New Smyrna resident Trish said. “We used to come here for lunch all of the time and it was devastating when it closed.”
For a glimpse at the new and improved Chase’s on the Beach menu and facilities, click here.
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