First in a series of stories on the local East Meadow business community.
The East Meadow business community has seen a string of closures during recent months. Whether it’s local-based national chains like Hooters or Zorn’s — both of which closed shortly after last October’s Hurricane Sandy — supermarkets like Pathmark, which had been in the community for 35 years and will close in May, or a local establishment like Potter’s Pub, which closed in early March after 40 years.
But while local economies across the state have seen their fair share of struggles, there are still plenty of East Meadow businesses that continue to remain strong, even during rough economic conditions.
The Herald is sitting down with some of these local business owners to get their thoughts on today’s economy, and to ask them how they have adapted and adjusted their business strategies. For the week of April 4, we started at Borrelli’s Italian restaurant, sitting down with Frank Borrelli, a lifelong East Meadow resident, whose restaurant has been in business since 1955.
“I’ve been working here for 40 years,” said Borrelli, 53, who took over ownership from his father, Frank Sr., in 1985. “So I’ve seen businesses come and go — on Hempstead Turnpike, especially.
“But I’ve never seen it where there were so many empty stores,” he continued.
According to Borrelli, rents on Hempstead Turnpike have hit an all-time high, due to increased taxes. That, combined with electric and healthcare bills, has caused trouble for independent business owners. “All businesses, we’re working for less profit,” he said. “Our volume is there, business is good, but our bottom line, after our expenses, we’re working for less profit than we did in the ’80s and ’90s.”
But Borrelli said he’s gotten by, thanks in large part to recent remodeling in the restaurant’s interior. In 2009, when the economy was in the peak of the economic recession, he enlarged the size of the restaurant’s party room, increasing the capacity from 40 to 80. Additionally, he reconstructed the restaurant’s bar and added flat screen televisions. “For the past 55 years, we do something every couple of years to upgrade and make it better for our customers,” he said.