Owner of Bahr’s Produces Book of Sandy Photos
By John Burton
HIGHLANDS – Lives are moving forward, homes and businesses are being rebuilt, but the images of the storm will remain for a long time and Bahrs Landing owner Jay Cosgrove wants people to remember those images.
The impact of Super Storm Sandy on Highlands, the surrounding area and his businesses was documented in a series of photos taken by Cosgrove and a local photographer. Those collected images are now featured in a volume – Cosgrove’s own version of a coffee table book – that is being kept at Bahrs Landing seafood restaurant and marina, 2 Bay Ave.
Titled Bahrs Landing Still Standing since 1917 and subtitled Our Story in Pictures is about Super Storm Sandy’s arrival Oct. 28, and its aftermath. The book tells the story of the storm in photos, mostly taken by Cosgrove with some contributed by Paul Scharff, a professional photographer who lives in the borough.
The book, containing about 60 pages of color photos and brief captions, shows the damage done. It also documents the labor of workers at Bahrs, and Moby’s Lobster Deck next door – also owned and operated by Cosgrove and his father Ray Cosgrove – who were hired to help with the cleanup. The last page is a group shot of most of the workers as the work neared completion.
“I wanted the world to know what these guys did and the hard and nasty work they did to get us up and running,” Cosgrove said.
While the book – suggested by Cosgrove’s wife Becky – is professionally bound and looks like a coffee table or gift book with some dramatic pictures between its covers, it can’t be purchased. Cosgrove isn’t planning on having it published for sale. “It would be too expensive,” to publish it, he said, and he didn’t think “anybody would be interested in buying it.”
The reason for the book? “I wanted to document what happened so we wouldn’t forget,” he said.
The photos selected for the book were chosen from about 100 images, most of those taken by Cosgrove, some with his cellphone and other with a digital camera. The pictures originally were intended for the insurance adjuster to evaluate the restaurant’s claims. Cosgrove never intended them to be viewed publicly.
“My main reason for doing it now was just to show customers what was happening,” he said.
Family owned and operated since 1917, Bahr’s was flooded and sustained about $1 million worth of damage with most equipment needing to be replaced.
Over the nearly century the restaurant has been in Highlands, there have been other storms that required rebuilding with improvements being added each time. Those improvements meant the location fared fairly when Sandy hit, Cosgrove said. The restaurant was back up and running about 17 days after the storm.
What stood out for Cosgrove was that, even though the building was flooded with about 5 1/2 feet of water, the Bahrs sign in the front survived the battering. “One of the first things we did was get the sign on and lit,” he said. “It was a sign of hope.”
The photo of that lit sign was the one selected for the book’s cover.
The book now serves as a tool for Cosgrove and restaurant employees. As customers have been coming back after the storm – especially now that summer is almost here – he and waitstaff often were asked by diners how they were impacted by Sandy.
“They would ask you and you’d be at the table for two hours and we’d be trying to get the food out,” he said.
Now staff can share the single copy of Bahrs Landing Still Standing since 1917.