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The end of an era in Island Park

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John Vitale watching the destruction of his landmark Paddy McGee’s Restaurant.
John Vitale watching the destruction of his landmark Paddy McGee’s Restaurant.
Barbra Rubin-Perry/Herald

 The skies were gray, promising rain, mirroring the emotions that played across John Vitale’s face as he watched his Island Park landmark being torn down. “My family they’re pretty upset, my mother’s a little shook up by it,” Vitale said, “But it was time.”

The restaurant, which had been a community favorite for 30 years, and its neighbor Coyote Grill, were badly damaged in Hurricane Sandy.

“It was named for my Grandfather,” Vitale explained, “His name was Anthony LaRocca, [When he was young] he went for a job, the Irish name was easier than the Italian name, so they were on line and his friend, who was Irish, when they asked his name he said… ‘And that’s my friend Paddy McGee put him down’ and they started calling him Paddy McGee.” He said his Grandfather went on to be very successful in the Fulton Fish Market.

“Over 40 of his descendants, grandchildren and great grandchildren worked at Paddy McGee’s at one time or another,” Vitale said. “My grandfather was the oldest of nine. His father died in his 40’s and my grandfather left school and went to work to basically support his family. Very heroic! He went on to own his own company in the old Fulton Fish Market. When he left school to go work at the market is when the nickname Paddy McGee was born. All of his brothers worked for him and his sister’s married guys who opened fish stores, he would supply them fish on credit to get them going. Iconic man he was.”

The Waterview Land Development apartments proposed for the former Paddy McGee’s site at 6 Waterview Road will begin construction with a new bulkhead and pilings for the new buildngs. Vitale said he reached an agreement with the Yacht Club condominium board of directors, to construct an 86-apartment project that would be located across the street from the Yacht Club complex.

The project would include a community area and boat slips for the apartment complex residents, an outdoor pool, exercise room, and a landscaped garden area. The complex would also provide residents with van service to the beach.