The Village of Rockville Centre’s downtown shopping and dining district is officially reopen for business — that’s the message that store owners and village and town officials gave last week at a large ribbon cutting on the Village Green.
The Rockville Centre Chamber of Commerce held the “grand reopening” on Aug. 11, followed by a dinner and Chamber meeting at the Rockville Centre American Legion hall.
“Rockville Centre is now open for business again,” Mayor Francis X. Murray said at the event. “That’s why we’re here. We’re going to put out a message to please come out and support all of our businesses.”
Businesses had closed mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with some restaurants open only for takeout and delivery services. In the past two months, retail shops have begun to reopen at half capacity. Restaurants opened for outdoor dining in May, and for indoor dining a few weeks later.
Still, at the time of the Chamber event, gyms and bowling alleys in the village were not permitted to open, which Murray described as “just terrible.” However, just a few days later, on Aug. 17, the state allowed bowling alleys to open, and Maple Lanes on Maple Avenue reopened after a five-month shutdown. Gyms are still closed.
“[Rockville Centre has put out] an amazing example over these months of resilience and ‘can-do’ despite the greatest odds against you as business owners,” said Hempstead Town Clerk Kate Murray. “You have not only managed to keep your employees, keep your businesses level and going, but then on top of it, what I’ve been amazed at, is that so many businesses that have been charitable. In your darkest days economically, you’re still looking out for your community in so many different ways.”
The elected officials also praised Chamber president Brian Croutier for advocating for businesses during the pandemic.
“Being a Chamber of Commerce is more than just cutting ribbons,” said Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, “and I think Brian has really shown that over the last few months.”
He added that the Town of Hempstead has been working with business owners to expedite permits and accommodate their needs to help them gain customers when reopening under new health and safety conditions.
“Anything we can do or any way we can help, we are here,” D’Esposito said, “and I will keep drinking, eating and shopping in Rockville Centre.”
The Chamber has plans to post a video of the event online to promote its business district. In addition, Croutier said the Chamber’s new website will launch in the coming weeks and be “much more accessible to business owners and the community so that we can share all the things going on in the shops and around town.
“Once that rolls out,” he added, “I think that will help the businesses a lot.”