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Baby Luca and the Secret Meatball: Local family has a bright spot after Ian floods their St. Augustine eatery

Ian may be over for most people in St. Augustine, but not for this local family trying to get their wine bar back open after bad flooding

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — It was the dream of Jon Sandroni.

 "I did a lot of work myself. Watching it all go was pretty devastating,"  he says. 

Credit: FCN - Celestino's on Anastasia Island

Sandroni and his father poured their own sweat and money into creating Celestino's Wine Bar on Anastasia Island, just down from the Bridge of Lions.

"I just opened six months ago," Sandroni says, trying to keep a smile on his face.  But when Ian's floodwaters gushed in over the sandbags, it was a big blow.  

"It looks like most of our equipment is shot, unfortunately," he says.

Credit: Celestino's after Ian and before major clean-up

When they could safely get back in their wine bar, the water, he says, was knee high. Then, as it receded, Ian left a thick layer of muck all over the floor.

If moisture meters show damage inside the walls, Sandroni says, "We might have to cut it all out."  No matter what, he says, "It's a huge loss of revenue." 

How discouraging is that?  Very.  He's applied to FEMA, but he doesn't have flood insurance to fall back on to help. 

Friends came in to help dry out the equipment.  The tiny sliver of good news was an ice maker turned back on.  One ice maker.

Credit: Celestino's Wine Bar -- Anastasia Island

But Sandroni is optimistic his wine bar can reopen in about two weeks. 

On the menu? Well, you could call it "the secret meatball."  No Sandroni family member will divulge the recipe, except to say it has three kinds of meat and it's delicious.

Credit: Celestino's -- call it the Secret Meatball

That's a bright spot.

But a bigger bright spot is the youngest Sandroni, Luca Michael. His dad piles on the smooches and Luca squeals. 

Credit: FCN -- Sandroni family outside Celestino's

Always a reason to stay positive, even if Ian was anything but nice.

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