Residents in Malverne and West Hempstead were out and about during the weeks since restaurants reopened last month. Residents were allowed to dine outdoors at restaurants since Long Island entered Phase Two on June 10.
“It’s wonderful. We frequent Connolly Station often, so it’s nice to be back out,” said Malvernite Mary Markey.
Markey, who dined outdoors at Connolly Station in Malverne with her brother, Peter, and their mother, Mary Sr., said she was not afraid to return to restaurants. Peter said that with the weather getting better, it is hard to resist going outdoors.
“A lot of people are tired of being locked indoors,” Peter said. “Curbside service doesn’t give you the same experience as physically being at a restaurant, so I’m glad that we’re finally able to eat at restaurants again.”
Connolly Station owner Jerry Hughes said that while his restaurant opened with many safety restrictions, his business is fortunate to have an outdoor patio. He also said that residents’ support is what helped to keep the doors open over the past three months.
“Our customers have done a lot to try to keep all of our small business open,” Hughes said. “A lot of people told us that we’re here for you and they appreciate the place itself. They really stepped up when we needed them the most.”
Hughes added that the Malverne Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to support servers who rely on tips helped to sustain his staff. While Hughes remains optimistic for the future, he said it would be a while before things get back to normal in the village.
“I think most owners know that,” Hughes said, “but I just hope that most owners will come back when this is all over. I think a lot of them will not be able to come back, but as of now we’re one of the lucky places that sees a good future.”
Our Town Grille owner Jerry Carter also said that having support from residents helped to keep his business afloat. His restaurant was one of several businesses in the village that provided curbside service during the pandemic.
“It’s been heavenly, because we have been busy every day since we reopened,” Carter said. “We have been open for takeout, but you don’t know what you’re going to get. Now that we’ve reopened, it’s been incredible.”
Peter Papazaharias, owner of Venus Restaurant in West Hempstead, said that as business slowed down, bills increased during the lockdown. After reopening outdoor dining at their restaurant for nearly a month, he said that things have slowly returned to normal.
“It means a lot for us to finally reopen,” Papazaharias said. “Having people come back to our restaurant is helping us to survive and to pay the bills. People are still afraid, and over here, we have older residents, so I understand their concern. I would like for our customers to know that they shouldn’t be afraid to come out.”
West Hempstead resident Dennis McNamara said he’s regularly dined at Venus Restaurant for years. McNamara, who lived in the community for more than 30 years, also said that he was excited for the restaurant to reopen its table service on June 24.
“I was so happy that they were able to provide takeout while they were in lockdown,” McNamara said. “I’m looking forward to good food and good company, because they’re all very nice people here.”