Robert Roth’s garage might seem too nice to park two cars, but then you have to see the cars — a red Camaro and a yellow Corvette.

The space itself may be the star lately, now that it’s been transformed into a shrine to his twin passions — cars and beer — complete with a comfy, old leather chair, small table and music.

He spends time there with people and the cars, and now and then backs them out to have more space to socialize.

“Since I’ve been a kid, I’ve collected beer memorabilia,” says the 47-year-old medical device salesman, giving a virtual tour of the space in his Manorville home. “I have some of my old stuff hanging in the garage, bought some new things.”

Amid the pandemic, Roth is among Long Islanders who find themselves spending more time in their garage, which they have rid of clutter and transformed into a space to pursue their interests, joys or livelihoods — be it nostalgia for a lost era, fixing bicycles, shellfishing or breeding puppies.

A wheel nice room

Roth’s two-car garage is a sort of museum and a cave.

On the checkered floor sit cabinets from Gladiator GarageWorks and a stainless steel refrigerator. Neon Budweiser, Coors Light, Miller Light and Michelob signs crowd a wall, as well as license plates from back in the day – from his first car, and others belonging to his father and grandfather.

Robert Roth in his modified garage in Manorville.

Robert Roth in his modified garage in Manorville. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

This is where he unwinds to tracks of Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Van Halen, some Johnny Cash, have a drink, and think.

“If I’m sitting by myself, I have an old, leather armchair. I can sit, smoke a cigar. I’ll open up the garage,” Roth says. “If I have a friend, I’ll back the cars out so we have more room to hang.”

Auto-themed displays in Robert Roth's garage in Manorville.

Auto-themed displays in Robert Roth's garage in Manorville. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

The Camaro was his first car, which he bought in 1992 when he was 19, after working three summers to save up the money. The Corvette came in 2003, when he was 30.

The garage redo followed a few years later.

The way he sees it, the cars deserved a home, which helps them stay dry and shiny.

“Underneath, they’re just as clean as what you see,” Roth says. “They don’t get driven in the rain. They don’t come out in the rain.”

The shellfish guy

Clint Howard Bennett comes from a long line of baymen on the East End – 14th generation to be exact – who have brought their shellfish home.

These days, he hauls it into the rebuilt garage in his Montauk home that serves as the base for his business, Bennett Shellfish.

Clint Bennett at his home and garage shellfish business in...

Clint Bennett at his home and garage shellfish business in Montauk. Credit: Morgan Campbell

“We had an old garage. It was falling down,” says Bennett, 36. “In the spot where it sat is now my cutting room for my bay scallops.”

Three years ago, he rebuilt the garage on the footprint of the old space leaving one wall up. The work took several months. Bennett hired a contractor to do the structural work and exterior, and he did the interior, such as the floor and painting.

Clint Bennett works out of his garage shellfish business in Montauk....

Clint Bennett works out of his garage shellfish business in Montauk. Bennett Shellfish sells clams, oysters, and bay scallops. Credit: Morgan Campbell

The garage is now a shellfish room filled with buckets of clams, oysters and scallops, complete with refrigerators, counters and equipment.

“It’s my livelihood. This is what I do,” Bennett says. “This is why I was put on earth by my parents, to work the water and provide myself, my family and the public with the freshest shellfish I can possibly get them.”

Clint Howard Bennett works the bay to catch shellfish.

Clint Howard Bennett works the bay to catch shellfish. Credit: Kimberly Esperian

Bennett works the bays alone, “seven days a week, around the clock,” he says.

Living off the water is a centuries-old tradition.

“The only way to eat was to farm and fish,” he says of the past. “There were no real other jobs. There were no nightclubs. This was all land and trees.”

Table tennis, anyone?

The Remhilds of Plainview are all about sports.

“We have been playing pingpong since the kids were little and love the competition,” says Rob Remhild, 51.

When they were looking for a place to set up a pingpong table, the cluttered two-car garage seemed an ideal spot.

“We had this big space that was just storage. It was being used for nothing,” Remhild says. “We said, 'How can we get a bigger space where we can put a pingpong table, play board games and darts and make it nice?'”

Rob Remhild. of Plainview, uses his garage as a space...

Rob Remhild. of Plainview, uses his garage as a space to play table tennis and other games. Credit: Rob Remhild

He and his wife, Sara, 50, who are both in pharmaceutical sales, cleaned out the garage, added some cabinets, a new floor and a pingpong table. They redid the floor themselves with tiles made from recycled material, which helped level the ground and make it look smooth. “You put it together like a puzzle,” Rob Remhild says.

Now, the garage is where all the game action is – with a basketball hoop rising above the driveway.

The sound of pingpong has been echoing from the garage more than usual, with Kaitlyn, 20, and Connor, 22, home for the summer – Kaitlyn, from Sacred Heart University, and Connor, who just graduated from Villanova.

And when they’re not playing on it, the pingpong table comes in handy as a flat surface for work around the house. “I use it for all kinds of projects,” Rob says. “I just painted all the shelves in my den.”  

Different spokes

Cars may be king in most garages. But for Sean Logan, bicycles rule.

The avid mountain biker has turned his one-car garage into a place to store and work on his and some others’ bikes and do work for the house.

Logan, 27, of Babylon, has mountain-biked trails on Long Island – like the Glacier Ridge Preserve in Farmingville and Meadowlark Park in East Northport as well as Stillwell Woods Park in Woodbury – as well as upstate, New Jersey, Montana and Colorado.

“I’m biking more and fixing more,” he says. “I’ve had an overload of work. I’m busier in the pandemic than I was before.”

Sean Logan, of Babylon, fixes bicycles in his garage.

Sean Logan, of Babylon, fixes bicycles in his garage. Credit: Janine Logan

Repairing bikes followed naturally.

“I learned how to fix them, because I destroyed them,” says Logan, a project manager for Johnson Controls, an Irish multinational that produces HVAC and security equipment for buildings.

Logan converted his garage into a repair shop two years ago.

“We didn’t park in there to begin with. It was just storage and miscellaneous things,” he says, noting opening the garage lets sun and fresh air flow in. “There’s better air and better ventilation. I like being outside.”

Mountain biker Sean Logan's garage.

Mountain biker Sean Logan's garage. Credit: Sean Logan

He installed hangers made with two-by-fours and hooks where he hangs tools near a portable bike stand. “I put a computer in there to look things up,” Logan says.

His garage also houses a lawn mower, leaf blower and hedge trimmer as well as a work table to do other projects, such as a new gate leading to the backyard.

“Everything’s organized. It’s as clean as a garage can be.” Logan says.

Puppy love

Eileen Hattersley had been breeding labradoodles in her home for a while.

About five years ago, she began looking for room to expand and decided on the 20-by-24-foot two-car garage at her home in East Setauket. She renovated and brightened up the space, with insulation, heating and cooling.

Eileen Hattersley uses her converted garage to breed labradoodles.

Eileen Hattersley uses her converted garage to breed labradoodles. Credit: Eileen Hattersley

She made sure she had everything she needed for a safe, healthy operation — hot and cold running water with a washing tub, a washer and drier, kitchenette unit with a refrigerator, a large play area, and two areas for whelping or having puppies.

“There are counters, a refrigerator, washer, drier,” she said. “My dogs are raised in a home environment. The door’s always open. They hear the noises, TV.”

Eileen Hattersley uses her converted garage to breed labradoodles.

Eileen Hattersley uses her converted garage to breed labradoodles. Credit: Eileen Hattersley

The space is insulated, heated and air-conditioned, with hot and cold water, a laundry facility, washing tub and grooming table along with different areas for puppies.

“We play music for the dogs,” Hattersley says, referring to the tracks she buys from Through a Dog’s Ear, a biofeedback company that provides sounds to soothe dogs. “It’s become part of the house.”

Owner and breeder of Labradoodles of Long Island, Hattersley says breeding dogs are health-certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and given genetic tests through Paw Print Genetics. She is also a member of the Australian Labradoodle Association of America.

Eileen Hattersley, of East Setauket, uses her converted garage to breed...

Eileen Hattersley, of East Setauket, uses her converted garage to breed labradoodles. Credit: Eileen Hattersley

“They have different areas to play in depending on their development. I have a mirror in the puppy room,” she says. “I also have play toys that develop their thinking, challenging them with certain things to get rewards.”

Would-be owners, she says, are vetted through questions asked in puppy family profiles, so people are believed to be in for the long haul.

Hattersley has two litters right now, with six in one and nine in another, all waiting in her converted garage.

As for her cars and the others’ – the garage has no room for them, unless they’re special, like Roth’s. So they sit in the driveway, or on the curb.

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