The restaurant was "broken into a couple weeks after the storm and then it was an ongoing thing, more than a dozen (break-ins), adding insult to injury," she said. "Some of them swam and some of them took little boats out there."
Seal Beach Pleasure Fishing leased the restaurant from the city, which intends to demolish, then rebuild the building by summer, said Assistant City Manager Dan Joseph.
The reconstruction of the rest of the pier took longer and was costlier than expected, in part because one of the contractors defaulted on the job, Joseph said. The city now hopes to recover in court "a couple hundred thousand dollars" it was forced to spend for work that had to be redone, he said.
While the pier was unusable, Joseph said, "visitors to the beach area declined. The fishermen have disappeared. They went elsewhere."
Mabel Shaw agrees.
"We sell fish bait and that's down to nil," said Shaw, who for 37 years has owned Seal Beach Liquor, located across the street from the foot of the pier. "Business is off about 2% in the fall, but as much as 10% to 15% in the summer," she said.
Shaw said "everybody seems real excited" about the reopening, including her counter clerk, Gary Versyp, who said he intends to fish from the pier "every day when I get off work until sunset."
"The pier," said assistant city manager Joseph, "lends a lot of character to the community. It's our city monument. It's something citizens can point to and say: 'That's unique to Seal Beach.' "