Some of Rockville Centre’s long-shuttered storefronts are starting to take on new life, as new restaurants come to the village and existing ones expand.
Long an eyesore on Sunrise Highway, the busiest street in the village, the old RKO movie theater is set to be replaced, most likely by a Bonefish Grill. George Martin, one of the most popular restaurants in the village, is set to expand. And 212 Sushi is still working on opening its doors.
The Bonefish Grill rumors have been circulating for weeks, and have been confirmed by people in the know, including Mayor Francis Murray. As of press time, however, Bloomin Brands, which owns the Bonefish franchise, offered no further confirmation that the restaurant would be coming to Rockville Centre.
On Merrick Road, the former site of Harmon Drugs is being shopped around, Village Administrator Keith Spadaro said. But no one has announced any plans to bring a store or restaurant to the property.
Long under construction, 212 Sushi, on Merrick Road, is still planning its opening. “They’re just taking their time …,” Spadaro said. “But boy, it’s going to be a lot of sushi around here.”
Churchill’s Restaurant and Bar, on South Park Avenue, recently expanded into a vacant building next door.
“We took the men’s clothing store next to us,” said Churchill’s owner Kevin Culhane. Culhane explained that the owners of Churchill’s were already the landlords of the store when their tenant decided not to renew his lease.
“We thought about it for a while and we just did it,” Culhane said. The expansion, which opened in late December, added 40 seats to the restaurant. During the week, it’s available to rent as a private party room. And it expands the seating available on weekends.
“Friday and Saturday nights get so busy that the 40 seats cuts the wait down, and customers are more happy,” Culhane said, adding that the restaurant is now able to take reservations for large groups of 10 or more customers.
On North Park Avenue, George Martin is moving south into the building next door and adding 40 seats. “We’ve been toying with the idea over the years,” said owner George Korten. “This time just seemed like the right time to go ahead with it.”
Korten explained that because the new space is separate from the main restaurant, the construction has not impacted the restaurant’s operations. One of the last things that will be done is to open up part of the wall in between to connect the two sections of the restaurant.
Korten is also expanding the George Martin restaurant family by bringing the GM Burger Bar to Rockville Centre. The new restaurant will be at the north end of the village, on North Long Beach Road.
“It’s totally different from George Martin, and it’s totally different from Grillfire,” Korten said, referring to one of the other restaurants under the George Martin umbrella. “Essentially, there’s not going to be anything over $20. We’re featuring all-natural burgers — turkey, beef, chicken, tuna — and American-style comfort food.
“We’ll have a selection of craft beers and a very casual atmosphere,” Korten continued. “We’ll have a full-service bar. We’re going to have 10 craft beers on tap and 20 by the bottle. And we’re going to walk that fine line between being very family-friendly with kids, and we’ll serve shakes and cupcakes for dessert, and we’ll have the bar as well.”
The new restaurant will also feature tacos, quesadillas, sandwiches and salads. It is expected to open in mid-April. “It’s really geared towards having a beer, having a burger, bringing the family in, having some shakes,” said Korten. “Fun, casual and very impromptu.”