Island Park restaurants and shops severely damaged by superstorm Sandy have reopened and are returning to full swing, despite a few leftover boarded-up storefronts.
The Island Park Chamber of Commerce hosted a "Shop Island Park" tour Saturday of five new, relocated and recovering businesses on Austin Boulevard and Long Beach Road.
"Island Park looks better now than it did pre-storm, even though there are fewer businesses. The ones that have come back have rejuvenated or expanded," chamber president Glenn Ingoglia said.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad took part in the tour, along with chamber members.
"It's a big sign that we are coming back," Island Park Mayor James Ruzicka said. "It is nice to see everyone prospering after the storm. We just have to get people back into our community and use the facilities."
Marcia Ratner, owner of the Island Park Animal Hospital on Austin Boulevard, said she reopened in May after doing more than $200,000 in repairs. A week after the storm, the veterinarian was running her business out of two temporary trailers, she said.
"At first I thought I was done . . . ," said Ratner. "But my clients weren't leaving. They were rebuilding; and we had to be here for our clients."
The tour also stopped at Classic Marketplace deli on Long Beach Road, which opened in December after, owners said, it sustained more than $150,000 in damages; and Kitty Kove pet adoption center on Austin Boulevard, which opened in July, after moving from Oceanside.
Ryan Tannenbaum, manager and partner of DaVinci's Pizza on Long Beach Road, said the 7-year-old restaurant was out of business for months until it reopened in June after a $1 million face-lift.
"We wanted to rebuild a beautiful restaurant to give back to the locals for them to come and feel at home," Tannenbaum said.Shashi Gurjal and her son T.J. Gujral, new owners of the Island Park Deli on Long Beach Road, opened in September after spending more than $275,000 and hiring eight employees.
"I hope people like us and embrace us with open arms," Shashi Gurjal said.