Farmingdale Lanes will close its doors on Wednesday -- a "difficult decision" owners say of one of the latest small business casualties of the pandemic on Long Island.
Joe LaSpina, a co-owner of Farmingdale Lanes with his family, said deciding to close the Farmingdale location, which the family owned since 2004, "wasn’t a whim."
"This has been the most challenging business climate we’ve ever faced," said LaSpina, 43, of Rockville Centre. "The hospitality industry, which we’re a part of, got absolutely clobbered by COVID."
About 10,000 of Nassau and Suffolk counties’ 60,000 small downtown businesses have closed in the past year, according to an estimate prepared by John Rizzo, chief economist of the Long Island Association, Nassau-Suffolk’s most prominent business group.
At an average of 10 workers per business, that translates to 100,000 lost jobs, Rizzo told Newsday in a May 1 news report.
All of the Farmingdale Lanes workers, the owners said in a statement on the popular bowling spot's website, have accepted jobs at three other Maple Family Centers locations in Coram, Rockville Centre and Queens.
"We fought hard to get bowling centers open throughout the state, but having limited occupancy in addition to other government mandates for many months played its part in us making this difficult decision," the statement said.
LaSpina said he and his family "poured our heart and soul into this place" as the 48-lane bowling alley hosted fundraisers and charity and community events.
"Everything that’s great about bowling is what was bad about COVID," LaSpina said. "We bring big groups of strangers together indoors to do something in proximity to each other."
The owners had a staff meeting Monday and told the nearly 20 employees of the decision to close the location, LaSpina said. The alley will remain open to customers until the end of business on Wednesday.
"We kind of agonized over [closing] but it’s too challenging to try and fight this fight here," LaSpina said.
Darren Andretta, 30, remembers his times at Farmingdale Lanes in 2003 as he bowled his first perfect 300 game. He’s worked at the pro shop inside the location since April.
Andretta, of Lynbrook, calls the location "a home away from home."
While he hopes to become a national bowler, Andretta appreciates the opportunity he’s had to compete and work at Farmingdale Lanes.
"They go above and beyond for the competitive bowler," he said.
Customers with questions, including about retrieving items stored in lockers, should call 631-249-4300 or visit the Farmingdale Lanes from noon to 7 p.m. every day through Aug. 27, the owners said in the statement.