Closures related to COVID-19 are threatening the well being of Lengthy Island’s many downtowns and the livelihoods of those that personal companies and make use of employees there.
The renaissance of once-dormant downtowns has develop into more and more necessary to municipalities that wish to entice millennials, younger households and retirees to areas with a transportation hub, retail and leisure choices and a vibrant nightlife. Although shopkeepers and restaurateurs specific an virtually paradoxical optimism that their companies will survive, the virus is difficult the flexibility of once-vibrant areas to spring again to life after the pandemic retreats and can make it tougher for these languishing or within the midst of revitalization efforts to maneuver ahead.
“I believe quite a lot of them [small-business owners] are going to reevaluate whether or not they need to be self-employed any longer,” mentioned Joe Garcia, president of the Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce. “To have the federal government simply are available and inform you you’ll be able to’t have any revenues anymore will not be actually one thing you’re in a position to plan for.”
Here’s what enterprise house owners, native leaders and chamber officers advised Newsday about their struggle to outlive COVID-19:
BALDWIN: ‘I can’t do it with the strict social distancing’
Baldwin’s downtown is centered round its main thoroughfare of Grand Avenue, with the Lengthy Island Rail Highway station simply blocks away. Small companies populate a part of the hamlet’s downtown, mentioned Erik Mahler, president of the Baldwin Chamber of Commerce and owner-broker of Mahler Realty. However many storefronts stay empty. Mahler mentioned the downtown has been on the decline for the previous 30 years. In 2019, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo introduced a $10 million state grant to redevelop the hamlet’s downtown.
Mahler believes enterprise house owners should lower your expenses to assist climate future crises, however he mentioned he’s additionally involved that as a result of few retailers, shops and eateries are open that folks will simply do all the pieces on-line and finally overlook about native companies.
“The Chamber of Commerce is afraid that they are going to proceed as a result of it’s simpler to go surfing for an extended time period from at the moment’s date moderately than supporting native mom-and-pop companies,” Mahler mentioned.
Kitty O’Hara’s bar
LAYOFFS: 9 (four rehired half time)
REVENUE: Down 75%
Shay Leavy, co-owner of Kitty O’Hara’s bar, mentioned that after being open for six years the enterprise developed a gradual clientele.
However within the age of coronavirus Leavy has needed to restrict the quantity of employees for the reason that bar now affords solely takeout Thursday by means of Sunday, 4 hours a day.
“We simply have a small window of enterprise as a result of we don’t open all day as a result of that’s simply not going to be cost-effective,” Leavy mentioned. “The waitresses and the bartenders, they have been solely part-time, however they’re doing one shift every week now, after they might need had two or three or 4 shifts. We don’t wish to shut the kitchen completely, so we’ll maintain making an attempt to do to-go orders.”
Co-owner Dave Baker mentioned he appreciates purchasers nonetheless coming to maintain the enterprise open by shopping for meals and that he hopes to proceed the enterprise.
“I can’t do it with the strict social distancing,” Baker mentioned.
FARMINGDALE: ‘I don’t know what number of can come again’
In 2009, downtown curiosity teams, group residents and the board of trustees seemed to create a future downtown space, because the village misplaced site visitors to different communities. At this time, elements of the village’s downtown embrace mixed-use buildings and flats close to the closely traveled Lengthy Island Rail Highway line. The village’s Predominant Road is the poster baby for revitalization and transit-oriented growth in Nassau County, Mayor Ralph Ekstrand mentioned.
“It was something anyone would need it to be from a downtown enterprise standpoint,” mentioned Chamber of Commerce president Joe Garcia, who can be supervisor of Weichert Realtors. “As of February of this yr, most individuals would take into account it to be completely revitalized and fairly properly into the general grasp plan Farmingdale Village got here up with a number of years in the past.”
However the arrival of COVID-19 has modified all that.
“The eating places which can be serving takeout, relying on the restaurant, they’re solely doing 15 to 20 p.c of their common enterprise,” Ekstrand mentioned. “They’ll’t survive on that. We all know that. And in the event that they don’t get the cash from the federal authorities, the bailout, I don’t know what number of can come again.”
The Nutty Irishman bar, 317 Predominant Road restaurant
LAYOFFS & FURLOUGHS: 50
REVENUE: Down 90%
“Downtown Farmingdale, Predominant Road was flourishing Friday and Saturday nights,” mentioned Joe Fortuna, proprietor of The Nutty Irishman bar at 323 Predominant St. and the restaurant 317 Predominant Road. “It has develop into a vacation spot previously few years.”
When enterprise returns, Fortuna mentioned he could function in another way. Earlier than the coronavirus pandemic, he mentioned he deliberate for snow on the weekends or sluggish durations on the whole. He mentioned you’ll be able to’t plan for this.
“It’s not going to be the identical as a result of you will have sure built-in bills primarily based on a sure quantity, significantly your hire,” Fortuna mentioned. “If you lease a constructing, you’re leasing the constructing primarily based on occupancy. I’m positive there’s going to make sure guidelines and restrictions for locations of public gatherings, and our enterprise fashions aren’t constructed that means.”
EAST HAMPTON VILLAGE: ‘To place folks out of labor … is devastating’
In East Hampton, the Atlantic Ocean and harbors are prime points of interest for summer time guests and year-round residents. Alongside Predominant Road, the village’s downtown, there’s a mixture of small companies and high-end shops, a few of which don’t open till after April or Might, mentioned Deputy Mayor Barbara Borsack.
Steve Haweeli, quick previous president of the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce, mentioned challenges aren’t uncommon for some companies.
“The one factor about Hamptons enterprise house owners is that they do know the best way to navigate financial curler coasters and downturns as a result of they’ve a downturn yearly — it’s referred to as Labor Day,” Haweeli mentioned. “After Labor Day, actually after Columbus Day [in October], quite a lot of eating places will simply be open 4 or 5 nights as a result of . . . the enterprise doesn’t warrant it.”
Rowdy Corridor, Nick & Toni’s, Townline BBQ, Coche Comedor, La Fondita
REVENUE: Down 50%
Mark Smith, who has co-owned Rowdy Corridor since 1996, mentioned being a mainstay in the neighborhood has been good for enterprise.
“If you’ve been in a small group like this for 24 years, we’ve had youngsters whose dad and mom got here right here earlier than that they had them,” Smith mentioned. “They bought married, had youngsters and the children got here right here and in some instances, the children are working for us,” Smith mentioned. “All which means is the birthdays, the anniversaries, the funerals, if you’re form of in the midst of a small village, you develop into form of a group heart that occurs to serve drinks and meals.”
Smith mentioned a number of the greater than 100 workers he’s needed to let go on the companies in East Hampton, Sagaponack and Amagansett labored with him for 15 years.
“I spend extra time with these folks than I do with my organic household,” Smith mentioned. “You develop bonds, a way of household, your restaurant household. To place folks out of labor because of no fault of their very own, realizing that they rely upon their job to assist their household, is devastating.”
The Monogram Store
REVENUE: Down 70%
Valerie Smith has co-owned The Monogram Store since 1997 with daughter Hadley, and mentioned the downtown is quiet in the course of the week apart from weekends. That each one adjustments in summer time, however possibly not this yr due to COVID-19.
“Now we have a specific amount of enterprise on the weekends,” she mentioned. “Nothing just like the summer time months, however we are likely to see extra folks on the weekends throughout March and April.”
Smith mentioned she utilized for the Paycheck Safety Program and in addition requested her payroll firm, ADP, about borrowing choices however was advised the banks stopped lending after the funds have been exhausted. Smith needed to lay off two workers.
Smith mentioned she plans to spice up her on-line internet presence to have a backstop towards future enterprise interruptions.
“We’re all in the identical scenario, eating places and retail shops and any form of enterprise,” she mentioned. “We’ve been mandated to close down. We wish to shut down as a result of we wish to maintain the security precautions. However now we have fastened bills, and what cash you will have will slowly, relying on how lengthy this lasts, be depleted.”
— to www.newsday.com