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‘Operation Downtown’ brings outdoor dining expansion


The Town of Hempstead has come to an agreement with Wantagh business owners and its Chamber of Commerce to facilitate temporary street closures to promote expanded outdoor seating for the hamlet’s many restaurants. The newly announced initiative, “Operation Downtown,” was scheduled to have its first street closure on July 23, taking place along Railroad Avenue and Grove Street, just east of Wantagh Avenue and north of Sunrise Highway. Its first street closure is now targeted for July 30.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Donald Clavin, Councilman Christopher Carini and Town Clerk Kate Murray met with members of the chamber in front of Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall to unveil the new plan. Receiver of Taxes Jeanine Driscoll, Wantagh Chamber of Commerce President Cathy McGrory Powell and Mulcahy’s owner John Murray, Jr. joined them.

“Reopening our economy is so critical to the future of America’s largest township,” said Carini. “By encouraging street closures and promoting outdoor dining, we’re doing our part to assist business owners as they adjust to the changes spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic. I’m proud to stand here today with the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce to launch ‘Operation Downtown,’ and I look forward to seeing families enjoying Thursday evenings here in downtown Wantagh for the rest of the summer season.”

Carlo Stanisci, owner of Railroad Avenue’s Little Kitchen restaurant, was mulling over potential food items that he would serve with outdoor seating, something that his business usually isn’t afforded.

“If we do go forward with it, I think a Thursday concept could be more like street food,” Stanisci said. “I’ll probably do something like a shrimp salad roll, a cold style sandwich, but also do like a spiced Korean sandwich on a north side brioche bread.”

The application was officially approved by the Hempstead Town Clerk’s office early last week. In it, the Chamber certifies that it will comply with “current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and the New York State Governor’s Executive Orders.” Nassau County Police and the Wantagh Fire Department also approved the application.

“We hope that this ‘Operation Downtown’ provides an economic boost to local businesses and also provides local families with safe dining and recreation options during the summer and early fall months,” Clavin said. “We encourage Chambers and business organizations in other communities to participate in this program and consider a street closure in their downtowns. We may be closing down the street but we are certainly open for business!”

McGrory Powell also thanked residents for their help and said that the chamber is happy to assist Murray in closing down the street to aid the restaurants on Railroad Avenue.

The town is encouraging chambers and business organizations to inquire about the street closure permits by calling the Town Clerk’s office at (516) 812-3025.

Compiled by J.D. Freda

Compiled by J.D. Freda