Huntington Businesses Prepare for Wednesday’s Reopening

Eligible Huntington businesses are preparing to reopen Wednesday, after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday that Long Island had met the requirements for a safe return to operation. Many businesses have been closed or strictly limited since they were ordered to close in March, to combat the Covid-19 epidemic.

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and members of the Town Board spoke Tuesday about the steps the town has taken to assist businesses to reopen. Plans include allowing outdoor dining at restaurants, though those along Main Street and New York Avenue, which are both state roads, are governed by state rules. 

Some restaurants have jumped ahead of the official reopening, setting out small tables that patrons are using while awaiting curbside delivery or takeout.  The town has set up a series of steps businesses must take to open outdoor dining or sidewalk sales, and Lupinacci said the process to do so legally could be met in a matter of a few days.

Other businesses in town, such as barbershops and hair salons,though they already operate under specific sanitation rules, will be reopening for the first time with more limitations and new rules to protect the health of workers and customers.

Gabi from Sal and Gabi’s barbershop said the shop was installing protective guards around each station, and had a cleaning crew come in on Monday to prepare the shop to open. The barbershop recently moved to its new location at 558 East Jericho Tpke. at the corner of Pidgeon Hill Road.

“I’m sure everybody is happy, happy to get our customers back,” Gabi said.

Erica Desantis Ruggerio, who has operated Erica’s Day Spa and Salon at 680 East Jericho Tpke., Huntington Station for 40 years, said, “We have had spaced stations 6 feet apart,  and added Plexiglas between stations. We’re not allowed to have magazines, or coffee out for customers. We’re taking the temperatures of workers, who wear masks and shields and wash their hands more frequently. ” 

 “We have a more mature clientele. We treat them with tender loving care,” but under the circumstances, there won’t be any of the usual hugs or kisses, she said.

Businesses are taking different approaches, some limited by events beyond their control.

Daniel Pedisich, owner of Konoba restaurant on Gerard Street, said a sprinkler system broke over the weekend, flooding his kitchen, requiring a professional cleanup and most likely delaying his reopening until Thursday.

“It was a setback but we have been waiting three months for this day, and are eager to make it happen!” he said.

Neil Goldberg, owner of Main Street Board Game Cafe at 307 Main St., said, “I don’t see much changing for us until we can have customers physically sit inside the cafe which would be Phase III. I’m still waiting for guidance from the town for outdoor seating since Main Street and New York Avenue are state routes and the permitting is different.
“We are wholly dependent on street traffic and the general ability of people to have a “night out.” Until that returns to roughly normal no business in the town is fully functional. That being said, it’s great we seem to be headed in that direction with a head of steam.
“I hope the town will follow through on the street closings during the summer weekends to get people back in the Village. Also using some of Heckscher Park to allow food/retail sales for maximum socially-distant outdoor shopping. 
“Our customers continue to be fantastic in supporting us through all this through buying board games and gift cards. Our hospital donation drive brought in $13,000 of revenue and we donated roughly 300 board games to Long Island hospitals.”
Starting Wednesday, Besito Mexican Restaurant plans to reopen its outdoor dining space on New York Avenue, with reservations required. 
Prime restaurant said it will reopen  Wednesday with limited outdoor service. Details here.
Del Vino Vineyards in Northport said it plans to open Thursday.

The Spotlight Art Bar at The Paramount will reopen Wednesday.
The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport told patrons last week that it will not reopen until next year. “We wanted to see if there was a realistic opportunity for us to be able to open in the near future with two important things in place: (1) an appropriate safety plan to protect our patrons and our employees and; (2) the ability to have more than 50% audience capacity for our performances.  The health and safety of everyone working or attending a show at the Engeman Theater is our top concern.  But we also realize that we are financially unable to run our Broadway-style shows at 50% or less capacity.  The numbers simply don’t work.”
Other businesses are already open, under Phase I rules. Work is continuing at the Gateway Plaza apartments on New York Avenue in Huntington Station, hoping to open the project by the fall. Dentists, such as Dr. Inna Gellerman, an orthodonist on Main Street, reopened last week, with strict sanitary rules in place and some virtual care available. 
State rules under Phase 2 keep the following kinds of businesses closed for now:
  • Malls; specifically, any indoor common portions of retail shopping malls with 100,000 or more square feet of retail space available for lease must remain closed to the public; however, any stores without their own external entrance(s) may operate via curbside pickup in Phase 1 and 2 providing purchased items to customers at or near the general mall entrance and any stores with their own external entrance(s) separate from the general mall entrance (e.g. strip malls, anchor tenants), may open for curbside and in-store pickup in Phase 1 and all in-store retail activities in Phase 2;
  • Indoor on-premise restaurant and bar service, excluding take-out or delivery for off-premise consumption in Phase 1 and outdoor on-premise restaurant and bar service in Phase 2;
  • Large gathering/event venues, including but not limited to establishments that host concerts, conferences, or other in-person performances or presentations in front of an in-person audience;
  • Gyms, fitness centers, and exercise classes, except for remote or streaming services;
  • Video lottery and casino gaming facilities;
  • Movie theaters, except drive-ins; and
  • Places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, family and children’s attractions.

A Simon mall spokeswoman could not clarify exactly what stores at the Walt Whitman Shops will do under reopening rules.

Town Councilwoman Joan Cergol said Tuesday, “Make no mistake…as we take these incremental steps to resume our joy of patronizing Huntington’s famed downtown restaurants and other
establishments, there will be hurdles to overcome in this new world of business as unusual.

“And this is precisely the time for local government to make it as fast, easy and economical as possible for our businesses to pick themselves up…and start all over again.

That’s why I’m proud to have played a role in identifying and removing the bureaucratic obstacles standing in way of getting those restaurant tables out… and onto our sidewalks… into our parking lots and onto private property… post haste.”

Town Councilmen Ed Smyth, Mark Cuthbertson and Eugene Cook all said that business owners running into red tape or questions about how to reopen should call their offices, and promised them help. The main Town Hall number is 631-351-3000.

The Town Board has scheduled a special remote meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday  to consider measures related to Phase Two reopening. The meeting will broadcast meeting audio live on government access TV channels Optimum 18, FIOS 38 and at, where a meeting agenda can be found before the meeting; meeting video will be available for replay.


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