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'The rent doesn't go away': How LI's bars and clubs are coping with coronavirus closures

K.J. Farrell's Bar & Grill in Bellmore and

K.J. Farrell's Bar & Grill in Bellmore and other Long Island bars and clubs were ordered to close at 8 p.m. Monday. Credit: Donna Alberico

It’s lights out for Long Island nightlife as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has mandated that all bars and clubs go dark beginning Monday at 8 p.m. due to the coronavirus pandemic. Local owners are bracing for a bumpy ride.

“My stress level is through the roof just like everybody else’s,” said Kevin Sheehan, owner of The Warehouse in Amityville, K.J. Farrell’s Bar & Grill in Bellmore, The Local Tavern in Levittown and the newly opened Prohibition in Massapequa Park. “We are all in the same boat.”

Although the governor noted that businesses could remain open for takeout, that won’t help Sheehan’s places.

“It’s not like I’m Popeye’s chicken. For us, it’s not worth doing delivery service,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to put a staff in there to wait by the phone to deliver.”

Although the Nutty Irishman in Farmingdale might not be able to hold its annual St. Patrick’s celebration, the staff still plans on keeping their Irish up. 

“We will be offering our special Irish menu [corned beef & cabbage, fish & chips and more] all week, day and night, plus free delivery within a 5-mile radius,” said co-owner Joe Fortuna. “This will spare about 10 percent of our workforce.”

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However, 89 North Music Venue in Patchogue needs live music in order to thrive.

“This forces businesses like us to dip into savings because the rent doesn’t go away,” said owner Dan Welsch. “We’ll need to look for lines of credit and would certainly like some help from the government. It’s not just me but lots of people. The whole town of Patchogue is going to suffer horribly. Think about all the employees living paycheck-to-paycheck.”

At Napper Tandy’s in Smithtown, the crunch is being felt immediately after experiencing low turnout last weekend and now having to close. 

“We are a family-owned business and we are going to suffer,” said manager William Miller. “The amount of business that has been lost can never be recouped; we’re never getting it back. We have dozens of employees who count on us being open to pay their bills.”

Other club owners are simply throwing their hands up and doing what they can to adhere to the regulations set forth by Cuomo.

“This is a rough one. To talk about anything financial is secondary,” said James Dolce, owner of Governor’s (Levittown), The Brokerage (Bellmore) and McGuire’s (Bohemia) Comedy Clubs. “We are following every rule and regulation that there is to keep the public safe. We are all in this together.”

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