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New Hyde Park chamber president discusses village's 'slice' of life over pizza
Mark Laytin, 61, who has lived in New Hyde Park for 40 years, is president of the Greater New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, which is in its 50th year. He owns a marketing company that represents Invisus and Wake Up Now, technology software companies in Utah.
Tell me about the chamber of commerce.
I have been with the chamber for seven years, and president since January 2012. About 235 businesses, comprised of retail stores, services and professionals, belong to the chamber. There are about 2,000 businesses in this area.
While sitting across from Laytin during lunch at Umberto's Pizzeria & Restaurant in New Hyde Park, which first opened in the mid-1960s, he was asked what he thought of the place.
I've been eating here since 1968, a couple years after it first opened. I ate here as a teenager and I noticed throughout the years how much bigger it has gotten. It has almost tripled in size.
Describe the business atmosphere in New Hyde Park.
Our vacancy rate seems to be lower than most places even in light of a poor economy. Let me tell you about what we do. As a chamber, we often support local charities. We hold an annual golf outing to support the Gladiator Fund, and also support St. Baldrick’s, the Ronald McDonald House and Katie McBride Foundation. We also give scholarships out to a senior at each of the high schools. A senior who shows great academic achievement and service to the community from New Hyde Park Memorial High School, Herricks High School, Sewanhaka High School and Great Neck South High School will be awarded a couple hundred dollars.
Tell me something interesting that not a lot of people know about.
Well, a few years ago there was a fire at Nuzzi Fuel and Oil Company right next door and it burnt down, exposing a wall that had an advertisement from what looked like the 1930s of a Chinese restaurant next to Umberto's parking lot. I thought that was neat. And where the Stop & Shop on Hillside Avenue is now, well, there used to be potato farms.
What makes New Hyde Park unique and why have you stayed here all these
I like the fact that it's centrally located as far as transportation. I have family here and have deep roots in the community. I'm comfortable here. And I use the chamber as my way of giving back to the community to help it grow. I love it because it's close to the city, has great medical facilities and you can find all sorts of ethnic cuisines. This place, Umberto's, is the best. I have friends who come from Manhattan or the South Shore for their pizza. You can't beat the Margherita slice here.