Construction at the former Carltun at Eisenhower Park on Jan....

Construction at the former Carltun at Eisenhower Park on Jan. 25.  The venue's new operators are seeking tax breaks to support a $5.5 million renovation.  Credit: Danielle Silverman

The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency agreed Thursday night to negotiate a tax deal with the new operators of the Carltun restaurant and catering hall in Eisenhower Park as part of a larger plan to resume having professional golf tournaments in the county-owned park.

EGB Hospitality LLC is seeking a sales-tax exemption of up to $345,000 on the purchase of equipment and furnishings, said Elias Trahanas, one of the company’s five partners, who are all active in the restaurant industry.

He said the 35,000-square-foot eatery and events space needs $5.5 million in renovations to meet the standards of the PGA and LPGA, as well as national car auctions and charitable events. The improvements are already underway.

“When we took over the [facility’s lease last year], one of the things that really surprised us was the equipment and furniture was very much rundown,” Trahanas said at the IDA meeting. “There are three kitchens where nothing works.”

He continued, “So, we would use this [sales-tax exemption] to buy equipment, to buy furniture to bring the facility up to what it has to be to be able to bring professional events and tournaments” to Eisenhower Park.

The park last hosted a professional tournament on its 18-hole Red Course in 2008. The event, sponsored by Commerce Bank, was part of the PGA Champions Tour for golfers over 50. The annual tournament began in 1987 at a private golf club in Jericho before transferring to the public course.

In 1926, the men’s PGA Championship was played on the Red Course and won by golf legend Walter Hagen.

Another public golf course on Long Island, Bethpage Black at Bethpage State Park, has hosted both the men’s PGA Championship and U.S. Open, along with other PGA Tour events. The private Shinnecock Hills Golf Club has hosted the men’s U.S. Open several times. And the international Ryder Cup tournament will be played on the Bethpage Black course in 2025.

On Thursday, IDA chairman Richard Kessel said Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman supports bringing professional golf back to Eisenhower Park, along with other big events.

“This will bring people to the county and be a moneymaker for all the merchants in the area,” Kessel said.

Blakeman told Newsday on Friday, “The upgrades proposed at Eisenhower Park are exactly what is needed to make it a competing location to attract major golf tournaments and other events. We’re excited to see this project come to fruition."

IDA board member John Coumatos, a restaurateur in Bethpage, agreed, adding the revamped restaurant and catering hall will employ up to 70 people and buy food and beverages from local sources. “It’s going to give revenue to other businesses,” he said.

Trahanas said the facility has been renamed The Grand Lannin to honor businessman Joseph J. Lannin, who created the park, formerly known as Salisbury Golf Club, in 1917. Once the renovations are completed, he estimated the venue will have the capacity to serve about 1,000 people between the larger ballroom and sit-down restaurant.

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