G’s The Avenue is closing

Owner Gregg Cajuste is taking a break to focus on his health


G’s The Avenue, a West Hempstead restaurant, music venue and hub for community-centric organizations, is closing after five years in business. Owner Gregg Cajuste has decided to focus on his health after suffering four heart attacks and three strokes and undergoing spinal surgery as well.

Before it was G’s, the property, on Hempstead Avenue, was the Blue Tequila Bar and Grill. The building had been closed for many years, Cajuste said, but something compelled him to turn it into something new.

“I tend to do that,” Cajuste, 57, said with a laugh. “Turn bad places into good places. Try to help the community. If I take on something, I try to convert it into something better.”

After serving in the Marines, Cajuste became an entrepreneur. He created and sold restaurants including Lucky Bar 13, in Franklin Square; a construction business; and a limousine and car service. To Cajuste, the most important part of his work is leaving something better than he found it, while filling some kind of community need.

G’s served as a meeting place for community organizations like the Breakfast Club, the Republican Club and the Knights of Columbus. It was also where Cajuste co-hosted a Breakfast Club podcast with Valentina Janek, a published author, also of West Hempstead. The club and podcast focuses on helping people who are looking for new careers in middle age.

Cajuste has also used the restaurant and music venue to raise funds for philanthropies like the Battered Women’s Shelter, in the Bronx, Northwell Health’s pediatric trauma center, in Cohen Children’s Medical Center, and the Kiwanis Pediatric Lyme Disease Foundation.

And those are just some of his causes. He founded the Malverne Kiwanis Club, and is the past distinguished lieutenant governor of the Nassau County Kiwanis Club, as well as the past president of the Franklin Square Kiwanis Club. He has for many years dressed up as Batman for the organization’s annual Halloween celebration, Trunk or Treat. He has organized a charity concert to benefit Adelphi University’s breast cancer program, and created a number of scholarship for high school seniors to help them afford college. He regularly dresses up as Superman or Batman and reads to kids at Cohen Children’s Medical Center and at local schools, including George Washington School in West Hempstead. He also visits seniors in nursing homes in his spare time.

Why devote so much time to giving back to people, whether neighbors or strangers? It’s because Cajuste has turned a painful past into motivation to spread positivity in the world.

“I lived on the streets — I ran away from home,” he said of growing up in Harlem, Brooklyn and Queens. “I want to give back from everything that I saw. I just want to help the world.

“There are so many people out there that need help mentally, physically, emotionally,” he added. “I just love the world, and I’ve got to give the world the benefit of the doubt.”

Cajuste doesn’t like people fussing over him. Though his health issues have made him take a step back from his business, he doesn’t want people worrying too much, or even going out of their way to ask how he is. He’d rather stay focused on how to help others.

“Everything has always been about the community for me, helping everybody,” he said. “I’m not done yet.”