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Great Neck landlord starts breakfast club for tenants to swap business tips

Patrick Silberstein, at his downtown Great Neck office

Patrick Silberstein, at his downtown Great Neck office on Jan. 14, 2015. Silberstein, who has owned and operated the nearly 90-year-old property since 1981, hopes a breakfast networking club, 8at8, will give his 20 business tenants the opportunity to share best practices and suggestions. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A landlord in downtown Great Neck is hoping to foster the business prospects of his tenants by starting his own breakfast club for the occupants of the Thomaston Building at 8 Bond St.

Patrick Silberstein, who has owned and operated the nearly 90-year-old property since 1981, hopes the breakfast networking club, 8at8 -- named for the morning meeting time and street address of the building -- will give his 20 business tenants the opportunity to share best practices and suggestions with their neighbors. The first meeting is planned for Jan. 28.

"If you put people in the same room for even one hour, they start to speak to each other and they share ideas," Silberstein said. In a smaller commercial building like his, with roughly 25,000 square feet, "even one profitable connection is a good connection," he said.

While tenant-focused commerce groups aren't new, they are generally organized by tenants, making the Thomaston Building's 8at8 a rarity on the Island, said Erica Chase-Gregory, acting director of the Small Business Development Center at Farmingdale State College.

"I haven't heard of many scenarios like this," Chase-Gregory said. More often than not, small businesses come to her with complaints of landlords who have run afoul of business development, she said.

"I'm sure there are others out there, but typically we hear the opposite," she said, adding that the effort makes good business sense. "Those landlords that are concerned about the success of tenants benefit from that."

Kenny Wiesen, owner of Bonomo Turkish Taffy LLC, has been a tenant of the building for just over a year and says he plans to attend all of the meetings.

"You can think that you're a genius in an area, but if you share your plans with people, they will bring up ideas that you never thought of before."

Ultimately, Silberstein hopes the breakfast club, slated to meet about five times a year, will attract future tenants and bolster retention.

"Going in and out of business is not a good thing financially, and it's not a good thing for the reputation of a building or a community," he said.

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