Long-established businesses are up and running along a strip of Ventnor Avenue in Margate once lined with cardboard-covered windows on stripped-down storefronts. And there are some new ones as well.

John's Steaks, a walk-up Philadelphia-style cheesesteak eatery, opened last month on the site of a Rita's Water Ice. It's part of a larger expansion project by Johnny's Cafe owner Joanne Liccio that included an expansion of the restaurant's dining room.

"We've had very positive feedback," Liccio said. "People are loving the whole concept. As the weather gets warmer, we're busier and busier."

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A few blocks away, the So Pazzo pizzeria, closed for all of 2012, has reopened under the same owner as Lamberti's on Amherst Avenue.

The then-empty storefront was "torn apart" by Hurricane Sandy's floodwaters, employee Frank Bader said. "This place had five feet of water in it. It was totally destroyed. Now it's rebuilt, and it's going to be kept open year-round."

Lamberti's is one of many restaurants on hard-hit Amherst Avenue. Some, such as Sofia and Maynard's Cafe, reopened soon after the Oct. 29 storm. Others, such as Steve and Cookie's By the Bay and Tomatoe's, reopened after Thanksgiving, following weeks of work.

Inside an empty kitchen at Lamberti's, the manager and dockmaster of Lamberti's Sunset Marina, Victor Carapucci, said both businesses will be ready for the start of summer.

"So far, I can't tell you how many trades we've had in here," Carapucci said. "Pilings, fire, sprinkler, electrical, plumbers ... the list goes on. We're in the process of fixing and repairing what we have to do. And soon we'll be ready to rock and roll."


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