The Northport Sweet Shop, located in the heart of Northport Village, has been around for 91 years and seen many hard times. Owner Pete Panarites is confident they will get through this pandemic and be around for many more.
The shop was founded by Panarites’ father, George, in 1929, a difficult time to open a business at the beginning of the Great Depression. Getting through that proves to Pete Panarites that they can survive this downturn.
When coronavirus first hit in March, they had to partially close down, just offering curbside takeout. Panarites acknowledges that that has a major impact on many business, including theirs. Their menu, consisting of everything from omelets to burgers to ice cream was available for takeout.
Once they were able to open back up, at 50 percent capacity, changes were made inside to ensure safety for the customers and staff. Their lunch counter now has Plexiglas protection to keep patrons and staff safe. All staff wears masks and gloves and barriers have been put up for takeout or ice cream orders to go. All customers are also required to wear masks and Panarites noted that many patrons have accepted that rule, realizing the serious impact of the virus.
Without being able to sit patrons at full capacity, their staff was limited and the loss was felt. Pete, his sister and her children were able to run the shop without any other staff. Last year’s seasonal employees returned this summer ready to work again but with the limited capacity, Pamarites said the shop is just a two-person job right now.
Maintaining social distancing and keeping everyone healthy is a major hurdle. The biggest hurdle the Northport Sweet Shop has faced, according to Panarites, is the bills. Like many other businesses, though capacity is cut in half, the bills remain the same. Operating the way they are mandated to means fewer patrons and ultimately less business. “You can’t look at any of the years past because everything is so different now,” Panarites said. In many instances, they’re continuously increasing, and countless businesses have been forced to close their doors.
The Northport Sweet Shop has followed all mandated guidelines and is doing their best to return to business as the new normal, Panarites said. They are hopeful they will be around for another 91 years.
Huntington Now is catching up with businesses on how they’re doing during the pandemic. If you’d like us to report on your business, email Sapphire Delzio at [email protected].