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Vilma Rodriguez and Bea Ruberto holds a photo of Sound Beach from the 1930 in front of the La Famiglia Pizzeria. Photo by Kyle Barr

Ninety years ago in 1929, New York City newspaper The Daily Mirror offered subscribers the opportunity to buy a 20- by 100-foot parcel of undeveloped land between Rocky Point and Miller Place. The cost to purchase a plot of land through the subscription was $89.50 in 1929, equivalent to $1,315 in 2019.

In the trees and rocks of Long Island’s North Shore, a hamlet slowly rose from the earth.

Sound Beach is a hamlet of only 1.6 square miles and around 7,612 people, according to the last census. Stuffed in between Rocky Point and Miller Place, one of the North Shore’s smallest hamlets barely scrapes along the ubiquitously driven Route 25A. For those who don’t know the area, the hamlet boundaries are often mistaken for that of its neighbors.

Rocky Point has a historical society. So does Miller Place, combined with bordering Mount Sinai. Now prominent members of the Sound Beach community feel that’s something that needs correcting. 

in 1929, The Daily Mirror offered subscribers the opportunity to buy a 20- by 100-foot parcel of undeveloped land between Rocky Point and Miller Place. Photo from Bea Ruberto

Mimi Hodges, a near lifelong resident, is just one of the several women who are looking at Sound Beach’s past. She said that ad in the newspaper didn’t attract your average vacationers looking to take a break from New York City. They were working-class individuals, all of whom were looking for a change of pace during the depression era of the 1930s. They came with very little, sometimes only tents for their families, but still managed to build a small but safe town. 

“Sound Beach is unique in that it was a place created specifically for the working class,” she said. “People who didn’t have a lot of money and wanted to get away from the city — from Brooklyn and Queens. They put up their tents, they put up their own little houses, and eventually, in 1930, the Sound Beach Property Owner’s Association was born.”

The Sound Beach history project, which is being spearheaded by the Sound Beach Civic Association, is hoping to bridge that gap. Engineered by community leaders and longtime residents, local women are already uncovering several old photographs that show a much different Sound Beach, full of dirt roads and dusty buildings.

“It’s like a little mystery,” said Sound Beach Civic Association President Bea Ruberto.

Vilma Rodriguez, another resident, said work comes in bits and pieces, but their group has been energized.

“Sound Beach had no roads, no streetlights,” she said referring to the olden days of the small hamlet. “It’s little bits of information, but it builds up.”

For many of its earliest decades, mail was sent and received through Scotty’s General Store on Echo Avenue or Moeller’s General Store on Sound Beach Boulevard. It wasn’t until June 1, 1946, the first post office opened in the hamlet. 

In the small shopping center off of New York Avenue, where La Famiglia Pizzeria currently resides, the locals used to go to M.B. Sweet Shop for lunch and candy. Next to it, instead of the Italian restaurant, was the Square Market Store. Local resident Florence McArdle attributed the local setting to a particular show.

“It was just like ‘Happy Days,’” she said. 

Back in the day, the building that now houses Bedrossian Real Estate on Northport Road once was a community house that hosted everything from dances to pingpong and knock hockey. In that time, lacking a church, McArdle, a resident from the 1930s, said local community members “would iron the tablecloth, flip it over and they would have Mass on Sundays in the bar, Boyles.”

Sound Beach once had its own police department, its own highway and sanitation department. People once gathered at the “pavilion” on the bluff, where kids could buy ice cream and hot dogs.

Local resident Stephanie Mcllvaine said she has been pouring through newsletters from the 1940s, which reveal just how much has changed in the 80 years since. She wrote that a May 1940 newsletter was the census results. John Mertz, the winter caretaker and “mayor,” found 61 families consisting of 185 people lived in Sound Beach year-round. There were four general stores, three gas stations, one restaurant, five general contractors, two masons, one electrician, two fire wardens and two deputy sheriffs. Many of the year-round residents were members of the fire department as well. 

Despite their deep dive into this local history, many things are still unknown. What locals call “The Square” was either called Journal Square or Moeller Square, though Ruberto did not know where Journal Square even came from. There was a Moeller of the general store fame, but she has had trouble getting in contact with the family. She learned there was a James Moeller who taught math at the Miller Place School District but learned from the board of education he passed in 2012. 

Barbara Russell, the Town of Brookhaven historian, said her office has only a few items and details in the way of Sound Beach, but she praised the women for taking on the task. She said with the enthusiasm the group is showing, they’re well on their way to creating walking tours or a historical society.

Many of the local women looking back at the hamlet’s history have a fondness for the way things were. They watched the area grow slowly, ever so slowly, from the working-class family’s retreat to what it is today. Back then, Sound Beach was the destination, and there was no need to drive out and plan visits to other parts of the island, they said.

“Most of us here, we thought we were growing up in a ‘garden of Eden,’” said Hodges. “It was just fantastic.”

For those looking to get involved in the history project or who are interested in donating old photos, contact Bea Ruberto at [email protected] or call 631-744-6952.

 

Helios

Update: Helios has been adopted!

MEET HELIOS!

This week’s shelter pet is Helios, a 6-month-old potcake rescued from the Bahamas. 

This ray of sunshine is a fun little fella who would love nothing more than to have a home of his own. He loves to go for walks with our volunteers, and enjoys being petted and loved on!  

He’s just an all around nice little dog, weighing approximately 27 pounds; however, he still has a little bit of growing to do. This sweet boy comes neutered, microchipped and is up to date on all his vaccines.

Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. The adoption center is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on Helios and other adoptable pets at Kent, call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com.

The Town of Huntington will host boating safety courses for residents. File photo by TBR News Media

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) is encouraging all residents who venture out on Huntington’s waterways to register for the advanced boating safety training course Emergencies on Board, presented by Neptune Sail and Power Squadron in coordination with the Town of Huntington, at Huntington Town Hall on Monday, Aug. 12.

“I am pleased to announce that the town is expanding the boating safety training provided under the Victoria Gaines Boating Safety Program to now include advanced boating safety courses presented by Neptune Sail and Power Squadron, which address planning for and troubleshooting boating emergencies — information that can save lives,” said Lupinacci. Victoria Gaines was a 7-year-old who was killed in a boating accident in 2012.

The Town of Huntington offers free basic boating safety certification training in the spring season leading into the summer boating months. Those who register attend a full 8-hour course, and when they pass the test receive a NYS Boating Safety Credential issued by NYS Parks.

The courses now offered by Neptune Sail and Power Squadron at Town Hall provide advanced boating safety training, which complements the basic training course offered by the town. However, completing the basic boating safety course is not required to attend the advanced training presented by Neptune Sail.

Philip Quarles, education commander for the squadron, stated: “The Neptune Sail and Power Squadron was founded in 1938 and has been serving Town of Huntington for 83 years teaching boating safety and advanced boating courses. We are honored to be partnering with the Town of Huntington offering classes to residents. Emergencies on Board will be offered on Aug. 12. You can learn more by visiting www.neptuneboatingclub.com.”

“I want to continue to thank all that devote their time to ensuring the water safety of the boating community. I appreciate the unending support to my advocacy. One never thinks this could happen to them and it absolutely can! My hope is that boaters of all ages and experience levels continue to educate themselves. I believe this coupled with the new laws on the horizon will ultimately save lives,” said Lisa Gaines, Victoria’s mother.

The first presentation of Emergencies on Board at Huntington Town Hall will be on Monday, Aug. 12 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The course cost is $20.00, made payable on the evening of the event by check to: Neptune Sail and Power Squadron. Space is limited to the first 50 students. Attendees may register at [email protected] or by calling 631-824-7128.

The town held a presentation of Suddenly in Command, another advanced boating safety course presented by Neptune Sail and Power Squadron on Monday, June 24 at Town Hall.

Both Suddenly in Command and Emergencies on Board courses will be offered at Town Hall periodically throughout the year.

Learn more about the Town of Huntington Victoria Gaines Boating Safety Program or register for courses: https://huntingtonny.gov/boating-safety.

 

 

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Shoreham-Wading River school district is considering converting the closed fitness center into a wrestling center. Photo by Kyle Barr Photo by Kyle Barr

Shoreham-Wading River’s ailing fitness center may see a new lease on life, should the puzzle pieces come together.

At a July 8 meeting, Superintendent Gerard Poole presented the idea to the school board that the district could convert the old Joe Ferreira Fitness Center and turn it into a wrestling center, while at the same time taking the auxiliary gym and turning that into a new fitness center.

Though the thought is still up in the air, the plan would require making major renovations to the old fitness center, located just to the east of the main high school building. The fitness center, built in the 1980s, was closed in July last year when an assessment of the building by the school district’s internal engineer showed the flooring was not up to code for constant physical activity. The building would require additional steel supports, toilet renovations to make it ADA compliant, new HVAC, emergency lighting and an upgraded fire alarm system.

Last October, the district said the renovations could cost upward of $200,000.

The district moved exercise equipment into room A101, right next to the cafeteria. Room A102 will also be used for fitness come September.

In a survey sent to students by the district about whether they would use a fitness center within the high school, 75 percent responded yes.

At the July meeting, Poole said the district had originally included the fitness center as part of its 2015 bond project, which is currently in the midst of renovating the high school parking lot. Though the school district could use additional funds left over to remake the fitness center, it won’t know how much funds it has left until the end of August, the superintendent said. There is no current funding in the 2019-20 budget to convert either the auxiliary gym or old fitness center.

Local residents who once extensively used the old fitness center for exercise during non-school hours have said they wished to be allowed to use the machinery, though Poole said they would have to look at hours and access for nonstudents on the off hours.

In addition the district said this change would potentially allow them to use the outside building as a polling place, instead of the usual gym space. School’s being used as polling places has been a sore spot for several North Shore school districts as they continue to look at security concerns.

Poole said, in speaking to the Suffolk County Board of Elections, there is no requirement that the district reuse the same space.

“It’s a matter of looking at the layout seeing where everything can fit,” Poole said.

 

'Some 1,300 communities in the U.S. now have no newscoverage at all.' - Pew Research Center

By Donna Deedy

It’s often said that a free press is a pillar of democracy, a fourth branch of government, capable of shining a light on corruption to reveal truth. History is full of cases where news stories have exposed unethical or criminal behavior, essentially helping to right a wrong. 

Consider the story on the Pentagon Papers, which showed how the federal government misled the public about the Vietnam War. When congressional leaders didn’t act, newspapers filled a role. 

Think of the news story about lead contamination of Flint, Michigan’s water supply and the Boston Globe’s series that exposed the widespread cover-up of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Most recently, the Miami Herald’s series “Perversion of Justice” is credited for exposing the crimes and lenient punishment of Jeffrey Epstein, who allegedly operated a sex-trafficking scheme with underage girls. 

These are just a few cases with incredible breadth and scope that show how journalism raises awareness and ultimately prompts change. Countless other stories underscore the value and impact of journalism, and the news is not always necessarily grim. Aside from exposing bad actors or twisted policies, journalists also celebrate all that is good in a community and can bring people together by showing the great achievements of ordinary people. 

Any way you look at it, news matters. 

In the last decade and a half, though, it’s become increasing difficult for newspapers to survive. Newsroom employees have declined by 45 percent between 2008 and 2017, according to the Pew Research Center. Some 1,300 communities in the U.S. now have no coverage at all in what are called “news deserts.” This spells trouble for democracy. Thankfully, Congress is now opening a door to take a look at the situation. 

A six-minute YouTube video created by The News Media Alliance, the news industry’s largest trade organization, explains what people need to know about the situation. Entitled “Legislation to Protect Local News,” if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth your time. 

In summary, technology — think internet and smartphones — has had a phenomenally positive impact in increasing the demand for news by expanding readership and engagement. In fact, just 2 percent of the U.S. population in 1995 relied on the internet to get news three days a week, according to Pew Research Center. By 2018, 93 percent of the population accessed at least some news online. But while news is more widely circulated, this shift to online platforms is also at the root of the news industry’s struggle. 

Terry Egger, publisher and CEO of Philadelphia Media Network said in the video that he recognizes the power and beauty of the Facebook and Google’s distribution models, but he also sees in detail how they are eroding the news industry’s ability to pay for its journalism. 

“Facebook and Google are able to monetize their distribution of our content, nearly 80 to 85 cents of every dollar in advertising digitally goes to one of those two platforms,” he said. 

The bottom line: News is supported largely by advertisements. By creating and distributing content to an audience, news outlets essentially broker their reach to advertisers looking for exposure. Accessing news through Facebook and Google has essentially disrupted that business model.

Facebook and Google have generated over the last year $60 billion in revenue, explains U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), chairman of the U.S. House Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee in the video. In contrast, news publishers’ revenue is down about $31 billion “over the last several years.”

Cicilline senses that something needs to be done to help local papers and publishers survive. He, along with Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), have introduced in April a bill called Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019, H.R.2054. 

The bill provides a temporary safe harbor where publishers of online content can collectively negotiate with dominant online platforms about the terms under which their content may be distributed. 

Collins, ranking member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, called the bill a first step to see if the nation can bring fairness to smaller and local and regional papers. So far, the legislation continues to gain momentum. 

Danielle Coffey, counsel for the News Media Alliance, stated in a recent email interview that the journalism preservation bill is receiving voices of support from both sides of the aisle. The organization is looking for more sponsors to be added. “We aren’t asking for the government to save us or even for the government to regulate or change the platforms,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of News Media Alliance. “We’re just asking for a fighting chance for news publishers to stand up for themselves and create a sustainable digital future for journalism.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said that he is monitoring the bill’s progress.“A free press has been essential to the maintenance of our democracy and keeping people informed,” he said. “As the way Americans consume their news evolves, we must ensure that tried-and-true local journalists are receiving their fair share so they can continue to serve their readers for generations to come.”

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) is equally in agreement. “Our democracy is strongest when we have a free and diverse press,” he said. “From national to local news, events and happenings, we need the quality journalism of the free press to keep the public aware of what is happening in their country, state, town and local communities.”

Residents are urged to contact their congressman, Zeldin (631-289-1097) or Suozzi (631-923-4100), and ask them to become co-sponsors of H.R.2054: Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019.

 

Caged migrant children at U.S. Mexico border

By Donna Deedy

Local U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D–Glen Cove), after visiting detention centers along the southern United States border July 13 with 15 other House Democrats, has returned to his Huntington office alarmed. The situation, he said, is awful.  

U.S. Immigration Detention Center. photo from Tom Suozzi’s Office

“We need to make the humanitarian crisis at the border priority number one,” Suozzi said. “The system is broken.”

The group toured and inspected facilities that are currently holding Central American migrants seeking asylum and met with several migrant families to hear, first-hand, their experiences and what can be done to help.

“America is better than this,” he said. “I have worked on this issue since before I was elected mayor of Glen Cove in 1993 and I will continue to fight for solutions consistent with our American values.” 

During the visit, Suozzi learned that only 20 to 30 migrants seeking asylum are processed each day. This provides an incentive for people to cross in between ports of entry, he said, and once apprehended, they then turn themselves in to seek asylum. In turn, this leads to their detention.

“My recent trip to the border makes it clear that this issue is incredibly complicated and has been for decades. The policies and rhetoric from this administration have exacerbated the problem, permeating a culture of fear that forces many immigrants further into the shadows.” 

 The congressman is calling for action, insisting that all delegates work together to:

•Address the current humanitarian crisis at the border.

•Secure borders in a smart and effective way.

•Create stability in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras that account for almost 90 percent of current immigrants.

•Protect the legal status of Dreamers and people with temporary protective status and their families with renewable temporary protection and a path to citizenship.

The tour coincided with rallies held in Huntington village and across the country and the world in protest of the policies and inhumane practices at U.S. border with Mexico. 

Suozzi was a guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on July 16, where he said that “the president has, once again, shifted the conversation away from important policy issues toward a racial divide in our country.”

The Rev. Duncan Burns, of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Huntington, attended the Huntington rally “Lights for Liberty” and spoke to the crowd that gathered July 12. Suozzi’s trip to the border, the reverend said, has sparked greater concern.

“We encourage people to raise their voices and to call their members of Congress to urge them to work together to find solutions,” he said. “The Episcopal Church is completely backing both parties to find a solution to this humanitarian crisis.”

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) did not respond to phone and email requests for comment on his position on the issue.

June 30, 2019- New York City, NY- Governor Andrew Cuomo on World Pride and the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall signs legislation banning Gay and Trans Panic Legal Defense and marches in 2019 World Pride Parade. (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

By Donna Deedy

State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) has had a banner year. As a freshman senator serving the greater Huntington region, he introduced 68 bills with more than half passing the Senate, according to his office, and 26 percent passing both branches of the state Legislature.

Looking back, Gaughran said in a recent interview the 2019 legislative session, which ended June 20, will be regarded overall as remarkable. He attributes his success rate to the fact that the Senate was comprised of so many freshman senators.

His proudest accomplishment, he said, was passing a bill to provide disability benefits to civilian public employees who responded to Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attack. The bill, called S5898D, offers relief to overlooked workers, such as transit employees and civil engineers who are sick, suffering from severe conditions and are dying from cleanup-related afflictions.

Timothy DeMeo, a first responder for the N.Y. State Department of Environmental Conservation, said he is grateful to Gaughran for getting the legislation passed within four months. 

“This law is long overdue and will help so many of us who need to retire to be able to fully address our health concerns,” he said.

DeMeo arrived at the Twin Towers just as the second plane struck and was injured by falling debris. His vehicle, he said, flipped over and pancaked. He has required multiple surgeries and is scheduled for more. DeMeo worked for the DEC for 20 years and logged more than 1,000 hours over the course of four months removing hazardous waste from Ground Zero. Today, he suffers from respiratory ailments and other conditions.

“I call myself the forgotten responder, because I’m not afforded the same benefits of my respected colleagues,” he said. 

Some of Gaughran’s other legislative achievements include making the 2 percent property tax cap permanent, allowing for early voting in elections and backing the state’s red-flag law, which establishes rules that keep guns out of the hands of people who are mentally ill. 

Gaughran said he opposed bail reform and allowing undocumented immigrants the ability to qualify for a driver’s license, two controversial bills that passed both the Senate and the Assembly and were ultimately signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). 

In the fall, while lawmakers are out of session, Gaughran expects to hold hearings with his constituents. One issue he’d like to see addressed is high property taxes. 

“We may need to open a discussion on consolidation,” he said. Schools, counties and local governments, he said, should work to share more services, which can reduce costs.

With regard to the Long Island Power Authority, Gaughran sponsored several bills. One bill, which proposed financial aid to school districts impacted by LIPA’s tax certiorari cases, stalled in committee. The other bill, S5122A, aimed to prevent LIPA from collecting back taxes through tax lawsuits. The Senate passed the latter LIPA bill unanimously and the Assembly introduced identical legislation, but it remained under legal review in the Assembly and was never put to a vote. Gaughran said that LIPA CEO Tom Falcone and LIPA lobbyists had a strong presence in Albany, after he successfully introduced the LIPA bill. He plans to take the issue up again in next year’s session.

LIPA’s press office did not respond to email requests for comments about its lobbying efforts related to the bills. Record requests filed under New York’s Freedom of Information Law are still pending.

Overall, Gaughran would like to see improvements made to the state’s budget process. Legislators, he said, are bombarded with bills right before the April 1 budget deadline.

“We really have to fix the budget process,” he said. “It’s policy as much as money.”

Photo from Governor’s office

Dr. Caroline Englehardt and Dr. Richard Rusto were elected to the Belle Terre village board.

Village of Belle Terre residents have spoken, electing a newcomer candidate over an incumbent during a village election June 18.

  • Incumbent candidate Dr. Richard Rusto retained his seat with 106 votes.
  • Newcomer candidate Dr. Caroline Englehardt won a seat with the most votes of all candidates at 108.
  • Incumbent candidate Judy Zaino received the least number of votes at 96.

In addition, there were 24 write-in candidates.

A high majority of people—95% nationwide—support organ donation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Yet, only 29% of adults in New York have actually enrolled in the state's program. Left to right: Mark Cuthbertson, Christian Siems and Michele Martines raise awareness to improve organ and tissue donor rates. Go to Mydmv at dmv.ny.gov to register.

It’s as simple as signing a box on the back of your state driver’s license. Yet, New York ranks dead last in the country for the percentage of residents registered as organ donors, according to LiveOnNY, a nonprofit organization helping New Yorkers live on through organ and tissue donation.

The people in Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson’s (D) office know firsthand how critical it is to participate in the program. Both Cuthbertson and his legislative aide Michele Martines have children that needed transplants. Their ordeal has motivated them to spread the word about the importance of signing the organ donation registry.

“You can save a life,” said Martines.

In 2015, her 21-year-old son Christian received a heart transplant. He was diagnosed at age 18 with dilated cardiomyopathy and suffered cardiac arrest about a year later. Luckily for Christian and his mother, they ultimately received a call that they found a donor. Martines said many are not that lucky and die waiting for a donor.

“We didn’t know at the time that the left side of his heart had failed and if he didn’t get the call for his heart he would have passed away that night.”

Every 18 hours a New Yorker dies waiting for a donor, she said. “In New York it can take up to seven years to receive a kidney or liver transplant.”

Cuthbertson also has been affected personally by organ transplants. His son, Hunter was diagnosed in 2016 with aplastic anemia during a precollege physical. The condition causes a failure of the bone marrow to produce the necessary amount of red blood cells. The chance of finding a perfect match in bone marrow with a relative is only 20 percent, but he found that his brother was a perfect match. In 2017, Hunter received a bone marrow transplant.

“I was elated when I learned he was a match, I dropped to my knees and I was crying,” Hunter said in a May 2018 Times of Huntington article.

Despite efforts in recent years to improve the rate of organ donations, New York still lags behind the rest of the country.  Only 32 percent of New York State residents are signed up as organ donors. The nationwide average is 56 percent.

Since his surgery, Christian has taken up public speaking to local schools and advocating the need for organ donors.

“We need to educate more people about organ transplants,” Martines said. “Christian goes out and talks to kids and tells them his story.”

And the Town of Huntington has moved to the forefront of advocating the need for more donors on the registry. Beginning in 2018, the town began hosting a 5k Run to Save Lives, which highlights the statewide problem. Participants at this year’s event helped raise $11,000. All proceeds went to three nonprofits that handle and advocate organ and tissue donations:  LiveOnNY, Be the Match and Team Liberty.

Dr. Alan Gass, medical director of heart transplant and mechanical circulatory support at Westchester Medical Center oversaw Christian’s transplant surgery. He said there needs to be more education about organ donations.  He wants people to know that transplants work and it’s not just the rich and famous who receive organs.

“Most patients live on for decades after getting a transplant,” he said.  “Being a donor is the ultimate way of giving back.”

Martines said she hopes the work she and others are doing will eliminate misconceptions and help increase the number of people who sign up to be donors. “We’ll continue to try and make a difference here,” she said. “My son is alive because of a total stranger.”

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Old Street Pub in the Branch Plaza on Main Street in Smithtown.

 

Old Street Pub, Smithtown’s iconic restaurant and bar, opened its doors 50 years ago, and it’s been serving generations of loyal Smithtown customers ever since. So, what’s been the secret to their success?

“We do have the best burgers around,” said Laura Lombardi, who owns the restaurant with her parents Nancy and Frank Pizzimenti, and her brother Frank Jr. “We use only fresh ingredients — nothing frozen — and our brioche buns, which we get from Alpine Bakery, are baked daily,” Pizzimenti Jr. added.

Old Street is also famous for their cheese and crackers “Old Street” way, marinated steak sandwich, French onion soup and Caesar salad. With a large menu of burgers, steaks, chicken, appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, seafood and pasta, the restaurant offers something for everybody. 

The recipe for success, though, for this family-run business also includes individual service. 

“We are told on a daily basis by our customers that we make everyone feel comfortable,” said Lombardi. “A lot of our customers call Old Street ‘home’ — we couldn’t ask for a better compliment.”

That homey atmosphere has been a tradition that has inspired not only loyal customers, but also the employees. Joseph LaRock, chef, bartender and manager, has been a mainstay at the restaurant for 32 years. Joanne Gregory, a bartender, has been there for 13 years. 

As for Pizzimenti Jr., he started working at the restaurant as a dishwasher in 1986, at age 17.  He climbed the ranks and learned the business. Ten years later, he got his family involved when the restaurant’s longtime owners, the Atamanchuk family, decided to sell the restaurant. 

When the Old Street Pub first opened in 1968, a few things were different. Namely, the restaurant was originally called Gold Street Pub. When the “G” fell off their sign about a year later, the Atamanchuk family decided to go with it. 

“Fifty years ago, Old Street was busy day and night, seven days a week as there were only two other restaurants in town,” Pizzimenti said. “Now we have to work even harder to get people into our establishment as there are so many other restaurants to choose from in the area.” 

The restaurant once had extremely busy corporate lunches, which included porterhouse steaks, martinis and desserts. With the recession in the early 2000s, their lunch crowd shrank drastically. 

“That was probably the biggest obstacle we had to overcome,” Lombardi said. “Other than working with family.” 

Approximately 10 years ago, the restaurant started offering weekly specials. 

“We like to include seasonal menu items and use local products in our specials,” she said.

The restaurant is located in the busy Branch Plaza shopping center at the intersection of Main Street and Route 111. The restaurant’s brick facade, arched windows and heavy, carved wooden door flanked with colorful planters announce that it’s not your run-of-the-mill, strip mall eating establishment.  Once you walk through the main entrance, you can enter either the dining room to the left or the pub to the right. The same fresh food can be ordered on either side, only the atmosphere differs slightly. The dining room seats 75 people and is decorated with white tablecloths. It appeals to families, but is also known to be a good choice for people on dates or catered affairs.

The wood-paneled pub includes barstool seating and a large area with upholstered booths. 

Old Street serves thousands of people monthly. Some patrons admit that the restaurant’s attraction is simply its close proximity to their homes. But the family’s commitment to their loyal customers is undeniable. 

“You have to be extremely passionate and hardworking,” Lombardi said. “You make a lot of sacrifices working nights and weekends. You are constantly away from your family, and dealing with daily deadlines, and you never know on a daily basis how many people will be walking through the door, but you always have to be ready.”

The restaurant business is clearly a tough business, but things have fallen into place for Old Street, either through intentional planning or in case of the name by mere happenstance. 

“We’re not perfect,” said Pizzimenti Jr. “But we try.”