When the Clancy family bought Lynbrook Bagels 25 years ago, one of its selling points was the promise that the nearby movie theater on Merrick Road would be rebuilt, owner Michael Clancy said.
The old theater was finally razed in 2016, but the newly revamped Regal Cinemas 13 didn’t open until June. The project faced many delays, but with the theater’s opening came the hope for a business boom in downtown Lynbrook.
Though the theater has only been open for two months, Clancy said, he has seen an increase in sales at his store on Atlantic Avenue — mostly on Sunday mornings — even though summer is usually slower for business.
“I do see a lot of new people in the area, which is what we were hoping for,” Clancy said. “Even people who already live here who maybe don’t regularly come into town, now they have a reason to come into town.”
He addressed one of the issues that many business owners and residents had worried about with the addition of the new theater: a lack of parking. Clancy said it hasn’t been a problem so far, despite the fact that the new theater is significantly larger than the old one, and no longer has a parking lot. Village officials made an agreement with Regal to provide 685 parking spaces within a 1,000-foot radius for moviegoers. To give them more time, the village increased parking limits from two or three hours to four in metered spaces, except on Atlantic Avenue, where meters were kept at two hours to maintain the flow of customers moving in and out.
Angelina’s Pizzeria & Restaurant manager Michael Tersigni has fielded several parking complaints from his regular customers since the theater opened, he said, with many reporting that they had to drive around in circles looking for a space. Once the area gets busier when more people discover the theater, Tersigni said he believes, parking will only become more limited.
He added that he thinks the theater is a beautiful addition to the downtown, and he is pleased to have already seen a boost in business. “Since the movie theater opened, there’s definitely been an increase,” he said. “Most of our customers are regulars, so we can see that these are new customers coming from out of town that aren’t regulars from the neighborhood, which is a good thing.”
Village Mayor Alan Beach and the board of trustees have scheduled a public hearing for Oct. 1 to review plans for a transit-oriented apartment complex at St. James Place and Earle Avenue. If the project is approved, the developer, Anthony Bartone of Bartone Properties, said he would fund a 400-space parking garage at the site of a municipal parking lot at Broadway and Langon Place, creating roughly 120 additional spaces. Check the Herald next week for an update on this development.
Beach said he has not heard many complaints about parking since the theater opened, but added that he was looking for ways to provide more options for theater patrons and residents. He noted that many theatergoers have been using the Impressive Parking valet service at the Pistilli Building, at 303 Merrick Road.
Beach also said he was optimistic that more people would come to the movie theater and patronize downtown businesses when summer ends. “They’ve seen improvement in foot traffic,” Beach said of the business owners. “The merchants aren’t seeing a tremendous increase, but I’ve been around just scoping out the area, and I’ve seen a lot of people coming to the movie theater, and I think they’re very happy about it.”
Joe Carusone, who owns Vincent’s Pizza on Atlantic Avenue, across the street from the movie theater, said he has not seen higher sales because of the theater. “I think people are just enjoying summer now, but it will eventually be put on the map,” he said. “People will start coming, and we’ll put Lynbrook on the map again.” He added that the parking issues haven’t been as bad as he thought they would be.
Al Patel, owner of Lyn Gift Shop on Atlantic Avenue, said he has had many people browse through his store and buy items while waiting for a movie, noting that he often sees an increase in foot traffic between 6 and 7 p.m., when the shop closes, which has led him to stay open later on certain evenings.
“I’ve seen an increase in sales,” Patel said. “A lot of times people have 45 minutes to kill to catch a show, and they end up coming in here and buying stuff while they’re killing time. It’s all been good.”
Delays had plagued the theater’s opening. “We’ve been waiting and hoping, and waiting and hoping,” Clancy said. “All the delays and everything that happened, it doesn’t matter anymore because it’s done, and I know everything takes time to adjust to, but it will all work out.”