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Ushering in a new era for Pop's Wine & Spirits in Island Park

Incoming owners celebrate grand opening of cornerstone business


Pop’s Wine & Spirits rang in a new era last Saturday, as owners Chu and Ting Lin celebrated its grand reopening with a ribbon- cutting after taking over the business, which was a cornerstone establishment run by Nick Poulos and his family for more than 70 years.

“Nick did a great job in the past, and created a legacy,” Chu Lin said. “So we want to continue his legacy.”

Dozens of people, including residents, elected officials and members of the Island Park Chamber of Commerce, browsed the revamped establishment during the event.

Poulos’s father, Peter, opened Pop’s, at 256 Long Beach Road, in 1944. Peter was the son of a Greek immigrant, and the store’s name was derived from people affectionately calling his father “Pops” when he came to the United States. After he graduated from engineering school in 1976, Poulos continued his family’s legacy by taking over the store, which specializes in fine wines. Under his guidance, Pop’s thrived in Island Park for decades, and has drawn customers from across the South Shore.

Poulos de-scribed himself as a “certified workaholic,” but said he was unsure what the future would hold for him now that the sale was final. “The transition is extreme,” he said, “going from full throttle to idle.” He decided to sell, he said, because of health issues and a feeling that the time was right to move on.

Lin said that he and his wife kept most of the store’s employees, but are also looking to add to the staff. Under Poulos, Pop’s had 28 full- and part-time employees, including three who worked there for more than 25 years.

Lin said he planned to reduce prices and offer specials for customers, which will include tastings and wine-of-the-month sales. Poulos said that the Lins had a positive reputation in the liquor business, which made it easy for him to sell the shop to them. They owned a liquor store in Glen Cove for five years, and also had an establishment in Bay Shore before that.

Poulos started shipping wine and liquor to customers across the country through the store’s website before many other stores did. He also held a semi-annual sale, marking down wine 30 percent from New Year’s to Presidents Day. Poulos said that one of his goals was to give people a reason to come to Island Park by offering a wide array of wines and liquors. Lin said he planned to continue the shipping business.

The corner store has undergone six expansions — most recently in 2010 — and now generates 60 times more revenue than it did during its first year in business. Poulos said he was proud that the shop gained national recognition and overcame adversity, which included recovering from flood damage in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

In addition to a variety of wines and vodkas, the store also has an aisle for scotch, bourbon and whiskey and another for gin, tequila and rum. Pop’s also offers more than 6,000 wines from around the world, ranging from inexpensive brands to varieties worth thousands of dollars.

Last Oct. 17, Poulos received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chamber of Commerce in recognition of more than 70 years in the business community. “I’m very, very humbled to be recognized by my peers,” he said when he accepted the award. “. . . I perhaps wasn’t as involved in the community as I should have been. It’s a great little town.”

When he was honored, Poulos praised his staff for helping him achieve the accolade. “They have been instrumental in our growth,” he said. “They share in this achievement.”

Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty attended the grand reopening, and said he was thrilled about the store’s transformation. “On behalf of the board of trustees, we are excited to welcome the new, revitalized Pop’s,” McGinty said. “The tradition continues and grows. We are excited to have a revitalized business as part of Island Park’s renaissance.”

Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, an Island Park resident, also expressed his excitement. “Pop’s Wine & Spirits has been woven into the fabric of Island Park for nearly seven decades,” he said, “and I am thrilled to see a re-birth of this 11558 landmark.”

Lin said he wanted the community to come to the store and experience its revitalization for themselves. “We welcome everybody to come and see our new store,” he said.

Ben Strack, Briana Bonfiglio and Barbra Rubin-Perry contributed to this story.