The scene of the grand opening of ‘Deja Brew’ a new coffee shop located on Park Avenue in Wantagh, provided some familiar faces. Local elected officials, Ultimate Fighting Champinship (UFC) fighters from the area and the newest Wantagh business owner himself, Richard Polo Jr.
Thirty-two-year old Polo was a Wantagh lifer until he moved to Long Beach in 2015. A Wantagh High School, Nassau Community College and C.W. Post graduate, Polo planted his roots in the Long Island community. Now, he further plants his feet into the foundation of his community, with the opening of his first business in downtown Wantagh.
The eldest of five siblings, Polo followed in his father’s footsteps with a love for business.
“I’ve always been fascinated by business and businessmen,” Polo said. “The way they think, the way they work and the way they take advantage of opportunities intrigued me.”
Richard Polo Sr. is a small business owner in his own right. The elder Polo has owned Endzone Sports in Wantagh for 20 years. His son worked with his dad’s store and started picking up on small things.
“He provided me with a great example,” Polo said. “I got to see his struggles and see him get through them.”
Polo majored in accounting in college, but his heart was firmly in the business world. After college, he tried his hand at real estate for a few years. In 2018, he had a good year in his real estate ventures and decided it was time to take the leap and open his first business.
“I knew real estate wasn’t the long-term plan,” Polo said. “In June of , I made the decision to open my own business.”
Polo admitted that his targeted start date was Sept. 1. “I didn’t realize how much went into it at first,” Polo Jr. said. “It took double the money and double the time that I thought it would.”
Finally, on Nov. 20 the Park Avenue storefront opened its doors for business. “it feels good pursuing your dreams,” Polo said. “I have a lot of work to do, but it’s nice setting a goal and seeing it coming to fruition.”
The Wantagh Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for the new business on its opening day. Hempstead Town Clerk-elect Kate Murray, County Legislator Steve Rhoads and Town Councilman-elect Christopher Carini attended the ceremony. UFC lightweight fighter Al Iaquinta and light heavyweight Gian Villante also attended the event.
Iaquinta, who moved to Wantagh as a child, met Polo playing lacrosse. Their fathers also knew of each other. For the past 25 years, the two have been great friends, and Iaquinta was sure to support his friend in the opening of his first business.
Polo coupled the opening of his company with a toy drive in the name of one of his younger brothers. Polo’s youngest brother Nicholas was diagnosed with a brain tumor in high school. The following day, Nicholas was in emergency surgery to remove the tumor and underwent numerous rounds of chemotherapy.
“It was such a hard time for our family,” Polo said. “It did bring our family closer together, though. And it brought the community even closer to us. The people from the community supported us, held a fundraiser at Mulcahy’s — it was really unbelievable.”
Although Nicholas is healthy today, Polo other brother Anthony began a nonprofit in Nicholas’ name to help collect toys and raise money for those with pediatric cancer. The toy drive continues through Dec. 7.
“People can come in, drop off a toy and grab a cup of coffee,” Polo said. “The community came together for my family when we needed it most. I just wanted to provide the community with a place to grab a quality cup of coffee with a friendly environment, where people can come to hang out, socialize with friends, have meeting or simply enjoy themselves.”