Schenectady County

Irene: Eatery weathers ups and downs

Chris Bisner's first year owning a restaurant was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Bisner bough

Chris Bisner’s first year owning a restaurant was a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

Bisner bought Mary Rose’s Hen House in December only to learn the Mohawk Valley Airport — the adjacent operation that brought in a regular stream of customers — wouldn’t reopen in the spring. With the little landing strip dormant, many assumed the restaurant set back off Route 5 was also closed.

Then in July, Bisner got a windfall: Producers from Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond the Pines” asked to use the restaurant as a staging ground for several scenes filmed on the property. The movie crew brought business to the restaurant and a number of fans who hoped to catch a glimpse of Hollywood star Ryan Gosling as he prepared for the shoot.

Bisner was still riding high from the experience late last month and was about a week away from having a grand opening, where she was going to rename the restaurant to Cedar’s in an effort to draw in some additional business. She had plans to spruce up the building and maybe build a driving range near the old landing strip.

The film production was also expected to make a return in late August and early September. Bisner said the producers didn’t give a concrete date, but expressed interest in a second shoot.

“And then I get a phone call Monday saying ‘Your building’s underwater,’” she said.

Under more than 4 feet of water, to be precise, like many riverside businesses swamped by Hurricane Irene.

The floodwater lapped over the edge of the ice cream window and deposited a layer of silt inside the building. Bisner said all of the food inside has since spoiled and without electricity, she’s unsure whether her equipment will work.

“A month ago we were flying high,” she said. “A month later, this happened.”

But like many affected by the flood, Bisner is taking the damage in stride. She’s eager to rebuild and cognizant of the people on the other side of the Mohawk who are in much worse shape.

The raging river ripped through the tiny hamlet of Rotterdam Junction, forcing more than 400 people from their homes. Some residences in the worst-hit areas are still submerged in several feet of fetid water, and another 80 buildings are certain to require extensive repairs.

“I have customers without homes,” she said.

Remarkably, some of the people chased from their homes in Rotterdam Junction offered to help clean up her restaurant on Saturday. A veritable army of friends and family descended upon the restaurant with scrub brushes and squeegees in an attempt to speed the restaurant’s recovery process.

Bisner is optimistic about rebuilding. And she’s hoping that a quick recovery will mean she can start helping some of the people flooded in Rotterdam Junction.

“We hope so,” she said of her desire to reopen. “We’re taking it day by day.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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