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How coronavirus is changing LI's restaurants

New approach for restaurateurs

When Cuomo loosened restrictions for restaurant dining in June, it was an open question whether anyone would ever want to eat inside a restaurant again.

Restaurants took heart in the steady stream of takeout business the lockdown had generated for them. But that only proved that people still liked restaurant food, not whether they still had an appetite for being served by strangers at a private table in a public setting, with all the many opportunities for coronavirus exposure that might involve.

In that environment, two brothers were well on their way to turning a former all-you-can-eat sushi shop into a grand temple of Umbrian cooking — Osteria Umbra — for chef Marco Pellegrini, a man they considered one of the finest Italian chefs on the Island.

Their story, and those of other restaurateurs, illustrate how the coronavirus is changing the dining-out experience on Long Island.

The number of new positives today, reported as of 3 p.m.: 41 in Nassau, 60 in Suffolk, 302 in New York City and 715 statewide.

The chart above shows new daily cases in New York City and the state. Search a map and view charts showing the latest local trends in testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

LI businesses hanging on

Long Island businesses are defying a national trend toward increased bankruptcy filings, with only a handful of companies seeking protection from creditors or to liquidate businesses in the Central Islip court.

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Moustache Brewing Co. in Riverhead is one of the few. The single-store brewery this month filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy seeking protection from creditors after a COVID-related shutdown in March and a potential judgment in state court relating to a 2018 renovation loan. 

In the past month, just seven companies on Long Island have filed for Chapter 11 protection in the Central Islip bankruptcy court, including one entity with four separate but related filings. Excluding the related businesses, there were just three Chapter 11 filings this month. For all of July 2019, there were five Chapter 11 filings in Central Islip. 

The figures do not include bankruptcy filings in the Brooklyn federal courthouse.

Robert Solomon, a Long Beach lawyer specializing in bankruptcy law, said filings to date may be relatively scarce because "companies are limping along with the PPP loans," referring to the federal loans to cover wages and rent.

Cuomo to LI supervisors: 'Understand the consequences'

The state will "get to the bottom" of reports of violations of coronavirus mitigation laws in the Village and Town of Southampton beyond a weekend "drive-in" concert in Water Mill that included widely reported flouting of the regulations, the governor said.

The state Department of Health is investigating with the town supervisor and the village mayor "to find out what is going on. It seems like there are some issues of police enforcement, and we'll get to the bottom of that."

"But I think it is important for all supervisors on Long Island to understand the consequences and the stakes of what's going on here," Cuomo added.

He called on authorities on Long Island to increase enforcement of regulations aimed at keeping COVID-19 under control.

"So I need the supervisors, I need the mayors on Long Island to step up. I can't do it," Cuomo said. "It's not a lack of willingness. I am willing to do whatever we can do. I just don't have enough state forces to supplement for law enforcement all across the state."

Cuomo also said New York State is setting up a coronavirus testing site in Saint Petersburg, Florida, and sending testing kits and protective materials such as face shields and hand sanitizer.

'Thank God for the kids because they've saved us'

There's no Shakespeare in the Park this summer — but it's another story in Lindenhurst, where a theater is staging outdoor productions.

For the young cast of Studio Theatre of Long Island's "Matilda Jr.," last Thursday's premiere at Fireman's Memorial Park was more than just another opening of another show.

The budding thespians in the theater's summer camp program are the first — and so far only — performers to present a live stage production on Long Island this summer. Even more rewarding is that they got to do the show in front of an audience, a prospect that didn't seem likely a couple of weeks ago.

Studio is presenting three other musicals on Thursday and Friday evenings through Aug. 14.

Studio's executive artistic director, David Dubin, had expected this year to be special for a different reason.

"This is our 50th anniversary season. To celebrate, we closed down for six months for a pandemic and now we’re doing a show in a park," he joked. "Thank God for the kids because they've saved us."

Gov gives online go-ahead to driver schools

Driver education schools can resume teaching students, but only online as they seek to obtain their driver's licenses, Cuomo said.

"We understand that student drivers can't appear in person, and this will allow them to participate online, so they can get their driver's license and they can do it safely," Cuomo said.

Instruction will take place over Zoom, Skype and other platforms, he said.

More to know

The Federal Reserve expressed concern that the viral outbreak will act as a drag on the economy and hiring in the coming months and said it plans to keep its benchmark short-term interest rate pegged near zero to provide support.

Hempstead Town officials voted to award Northwell Health $2 million in federal grant funding for the launch of 15 COVID-19 testing sites in its communities hit hard by the pandemic.

Add golf's U.S. Open to the list of major sporting events that will be held without fans in 2020. The venerable West Course at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck will host the tournament Sept. 17-20.

News for you

"It's very reassuring." The few coronavirus infections at Long Island day camps this summer bodes well for schools hoping to reopen this fall, according to local experts in a Newsday Live conversation.

What's hot. We have details on pop-ups and more fresh opportunities to get out and about in unique ways this summer season in the Hamptons.

Shifting gears. Drivers are holding on to cars and trucks longer during the pandemic. Find out if your drive is older or younger than the average age of a vehicle on U.S. roads (it's at a record high).

"What's So Funny About America?" Two funny guys with Long Island ties, Alan Zweibel and Judd Apatow, will take that on in a Zoom video conference Aug. 6.

Plus: Our food experts have collected hidden gems — Long Island restaurants with great summer dining. They're worth prospecting for.


There have been the anecdotal real-estate stories, the interviews with parents about their kids reclaiming childhood bedrooms, and some data on higher electricity usage out East, all indicating that New York City residents are reacting to the coronavirus pandemic by fleeing to Long Island's greener and more spacious pastures.

Now postal data, acquired by The Point through a Freedom of Information request, shows a rather dramatic data set for the exodus so far, Newsday Opinion's Mark Chiusano writes.

In total, the United States Postal Service logged close to 25,000 permanent or temporary change-of-address requests from NYC individuals, families, or businesses to Long Island, March through June. 

The numbers are a big jump. Each March for the last few years, there have been just a few dozen temporary New York City changes-of-address to Suffolk County — an average of just under 50 each March in 2017, 2018 and 2019. 

In March 2020, it was 3,471.

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