There are three words that help define the Marina Café: Longevity, location, and loyalty.
While Staten Island has no shortage of new restaurants, many dining establishments are closing its doors. That’s not the case with the Marina Café as the Great Kills restaurant has remained a community mainstay for almost 40 years.
“It’s nice to be a member of the community because you build relationships with many of the regular customers,” said Rosemarie Saladino, who is part owner along with her brother, Joe LaBriola, and friend, Rob Parascandola. “When you build those relationships with those regular customers, they start becoming family and friends with you. We really get to know our customers personally.”
Saladino — who took over the restaurant four years ago from her parents Sam and Joy Corigliano – said the restaurant’s specials, price fixe menu, and keeping up with the latest trends are some ways they continue to draw diners.
And, of course, many people cite the inside dining room with picturesque harbor views and the tiki bar as distinct features allowing Marina Café to stand out from the competition.
“The view is a huge selling point for us, and it helps us attract functions like birthdays, engagements, and weddings,” said Saladino.
The tiki bar, which was added over 15 years ago, is so popular that many people call to ask when it will open for the season. Saladino said the weather is the determining factor and the bar has opened as early as April and closed as late as October.
“You feel like you’re away someplace else when you’re at the tiki bar. People look to go outside, and there aren’t many places on Staten Island that has this outdoor dining with a view,” she said.
One drawback with proximity to Great Kills Harbor came almost seven years ago when Marina Café suffered major damage from Hurricane Sandy. Although the business closed for 13 months for repairs, patrons were happy the family decided to come back.
“There were some questions in the beginning because there was so much devastation, but it’s been a family business for so long, so we didn’t think about not rebuilding. Plus, the community was behind us and really encouraged us to rebuild,” said Saladino.
The owner added the restaurant’s success is supported by her wonderful staff, which contains many longtime employees. Although they were forced to find other jobs during the closure from Hurricane Sandy, she said “99 percent” of those workers returned once the restaurant reopened.
Loyalty is also one of the reasons why the Marina Café is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce.
“It goes back to being part of the community. It’s really about building all the different relationships with people,” said Saladino. “The Chamber was very supportive of us to come back after Hurricane Sandy.”