Staff at Marco’s had an awful feeling of deja vu when they reopened after nearly two years of closure.
The Italian restaurant’s first day back trading coincided with heavy rain and further flooding across the Lancaster district – two years after flood damage wrecked the building during Storm Desmond.
Thankfully the restaurant survived unscathed this time and was able to enjoy a successful reopening.
And now Marco’s is looking to a bright future after a long road back from devastation.
It had been shut since the night of the storm – December 5 2015 – and is one of the last city centre businesses to reopen after the floods.
Janet Rogerson, manager, recalled that night when the River Lune burst its banks.
“The restaurant was full, it was Christmas time, and then the water started coming in the front door,” she said.
“Luckily everybody had eaten. We had to get everybody out of the fire exit because of the electrics.
“We came back in to complete devastation. Fridges and freezers, ovens, upside down. The water had gone right the way through to the back, to my office.
“We all came in on the 6th, shellshocked. All the staff were amazing. They all helped clean for days and days and days, throwing things out. Everything had to go. Fridges and freezers full of food.
“We applied for a Flood Resilience Grant which we got. Then it was a case of waiting for the insurance, which was awful. We were one of the biggest claims. It was very very slow but they helped us with part payments.”
A major refurbishment then transformed Marco’s and Janet says the floods now were almost “a blessing in disguise”.
“We’re absolutely delighted with the response we’ve had. The phone hasn’t stopped. We’re full on some nights already.
“Some of our staff we found work for in different areas, some went and found new jobs but now want to come back part-time, which is nice. We’ve got a new Sicilian chef and a new sous chef.
“It’s been stressful. It was awful. But maybe a blessing in disguise as now we have a brand new restaurant.”
Marco’s is open Monday to Thursday, 4.30pm to 9.30pm, Friday 4.30pm to 10pm, Saturday noon to 10pm, and Sunday noon to 9.30pm.