A few Western Nassau County businesses welcomed a growing Queens clientele while reopening Wednesday.
Hair salon owners said they booked appointments with several Queens residents, who cannot yet get haircuts, peruse stores or dine outside in their home borough.
A few shopping on commercial strips near the Nassau-Queens border on Wednesday said the wider array of services and less crowded atmosphere would push those near the border to continue choosing Long Island over Queens.
“I’m kind of stuck on the side that’s not allowing anything really to go on,” said Natalie Hope, 30, who lives on the Queens side of Floral Park, but booked a hair appointment at her usual salon, Bam Style, in New Hyde Park. “I really enjoy shopping and doing everything on Long Island anyway. Queens Village — the parking and everything is so crazy. I’d much rather try and avoid [it].”
Boris Nektalov, who owns Bam Style, scheduled appointments with new Queens customers. Although Nektalov said staff may have to stay late to accommodate everyone, he welcomed the rush because he has not paid rent for a few months on the salon’s storefront in the Lake Success Shopping Center.
“Just imagine everyone’s roots right now … Colors need to be done. Demand is actually very high,” said Nektalov, 42, who lives in Forest Hills, Queens. “We actually have been getting a lot more phone calls from Queens.”
A few blocks away, Francesca Lisio said her salon, Lakeville Hair Studio, was seeing increased interest from Queens residents. Lisio said she planned to reopen Thursday.
“Clients that were coming from Queens, now they're recommending their friends," said Lisio, 49, a Lakeville Estates resident.
But in Valley Stream, Feel Beauty Manager Catherine Lee wondered whether business was slow because customers were unsure which county the salon and store was located in. Adding to the confusion, Feel Beauty is part of Green Acres Mall, where only stores with street entrances were allowed to open.
Typically, Feel Beauty would serve about 80 to 100 customers a day, according to Lee. Only 13 came in by noon Wednesday, she said.
“They call and ask, ‘Are you open?’” said Lee. “We’re ready to work.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo previously said he would coordinate reopening plans with neighboring states to avoid a crush of activity in one region. But his administration’s approach of dividing New York into its own regions allowed Long Island to enter Phase 2 Wednesday — with retailers permitted to admit shoppers; restaurants, to serve outdoor diners; and hair salons, to resume work — while Queens businesses have just entered Phase 1.
“That really creates a problem for businesses on the wrong side of the borderline,” said Mark McMillan, district manager for Queens Community Board 13, a largely advisory body covering several eastern Queens neighborhoods.
Cuomo's office did not respond to a request for comment.
Under the governor's framework, the city could potentially enter Phase 2 as early as June 22, but Mayor Bill de Blasio recently estimated the boroughs would be ready for the next stage in early July.
Businesses on the Queens end of commercial corridors were already struggling to compete with their counterparts located in Green Acres and other Long Island malls with ample, free parking, according to McMillan.
“Now you have the fact that they’re open literally a month before everybody else,” said McMillan.
At a small Queens strip mall just west of New Hyde Park, Joginder Singh worried his business, Jassi’s Fine Indian Cuisine, would lose takeout and delivery customers to Long Island eateries offering outdoor dining.
“People like to sit outside. They’ve been sitting home [for] three months,” said Singh, 50, who said his restaurant was barely holding on. “Business has been very slow.”