SEA BRIGHT: HARRY’S CLAWS ITS WAY BACK

Lou Jacoubs in the restaurant’s dining room Tuesday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Another Sea Bright staple gets back in action when Harry’s Lobster House reopens Wednesday night, the first restaurant in the downtown district to do so since Hurricane Sandy.

Owner Lou Jacoubs took redbankgreen inside his newly restored and renovated restaurant, located in the heart the Ocean Avenue strip, for a sneak peek at what loyal customers and curious newcomers can expect from the “new and improved” Harry’s.

“We took this opportunity to make a few changes to our layout,” said Jacoubs. “It’s actually mostly thanks to my awesome contractor, Brian Sweeney. Make sure you put his name in the paper,” he joked as he slapped Sweeney on the back.

Harry’s, which has been in the Jacoubs family since the early 1950s, suffered extensive damages in the October 29 hurricane, with almost five feet of water entering the building – and leaving behind a foot of sand, despite more than 200 sandbags Jacoubs and his family put in place before Sandy made landfall.

“When we first got back in here, volunteers from the Navy stopped in to help my family and I shovel the sand out,” Jacoubs said. “It was basically overwhelming. All I could say was ‘Oh my God,’ basically. But we worked our butts off, almost around the clock, and now we’re back –  better than ever, too.”

Jacoubs rearrranged the interior of his restaurant, taking his square bar, which used to occupy the back room and turning it into a new full-scale dining room. He then elongated the portions of the bar that were salvageable, and turned what used to be his dining room into a large bar area, right inside the entrance.

According to Jacoubs, the new set-up will help bring more of a “bar crowd,” particularly because of the lack of options left in the town.

“I think the new bar area will really help us out. People will be able to come here and hang out, get some drinks and really just come back into Sea Bright,” he said. “It’s important that people get back in here and start spending time and money here – both for the town’s and business owners’ sake.”

With the help of family members, including son Chris –  who also pitched in to cook food at the temporary tent city – and his contractors, Jacoubs was able to get his business back up and running seven weeks after he first set foot back inside his ruined restaurant.

“We just had to do it, you know?” he said. “There wasn’t any question, really. Fortunately, we got to renovate our business a little bit as well. I guess you can say we tried to turn this negative situation into a positive one.”

Harry’s will feature its entire menu when it reopens, according to Jacoubs. The outdoor bar and seating area will likely be ready in time for the summer season, he said.