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Main Street

John Keating, manager of economic development for PSEGLI, announces initiative to invest in downtown areas during a press conference on Monday. Photo from PSEGLI

On March 28, in honor of Tuesday’s National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, representatives of PSEG Long Island met with public officials and business leaders at PJ Lobster House to announce an initiative to revitalize Long Island’s downtown areas.

Representing PSEGLI was John Keating, manager of economic development, and Michael Voltz, director of energy efficiency and renewables. According to Keating, small business districts are the engine behind Long Island’s regional economy.

“We’re celebrating this National Mom and Pop Business Day by announcing that we are adding $500,000 to our programs for small businesses for 2022,” Keating said. “To bring more people into your downtown, we offer a main street revitalization program which offers $25,000 grants for anyone who wants to renovate that property and make it more appealing for people.” 

In addition to these beautification investments, PSEGLI will also offer a vacant space program. According to Keating, investments in vacant spaces are a way to remove blemishes from local business districts.

“We’ve all been to downtowns and when you see a lot of vacant spaces it really doesn’t make you want to spend a lot of time in that downtown,” he said. “We created this vacant space revitalization program to occupy a space that was vacant for at least a year and we can give you a discount on your first year’s energy.”

Voltz discussed the various improvements made through these grants by James Luciano, owner of PJ Lobster House. According to Voltz, due to this investment the restaurant now operates with greater energy efficiency.

“You see the beautiful lamps and chandeliers — all LED lighting,” he said. “LED lighting is very efficient. We provided a rebate of about $1,200 for all of the various LED lamps in this building and that’s going to save James about $500 each and every year.” He added, “It’s good for small business, it’s good for his expenses and it helps PSEG Long Island by reducing the strain on our electric grid.”

Small businesses are what give a community a sense of place and a sense of identity.

— Jonathan Kornreich

Luciano, whose business relocated in June 2021, said PSEGLI had offered him the vacant space grant, enabling him to save money on energy. According to him, this had provided much-needed relief to his small business at a time when it was most needed.

“We had PSEG come down to our chamber [of commerce] and they introduced the programs they had and we were able to take advantage of the vacant space grant, which actually helped us out tremendously,” Luciano said. “We saved over $10,000 the first year on the energy that we used. We were also given during COVID the outdoor grants as well,” adding, “Starting out at a new location, that money definitely goes a long way, so PSEG is definitely a great partner to have in the community.”

Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D) thanked PSEGLI for supporting local businesses during their time of need. He welcomed the partnership between PSEGLI, local government and small businesses.

“Small businesses are what give a community a sense of place and a sense of identity for a lot of the families that live in those areas,” Kornreich said. “PSEG Long Island gets that and we appreciate you helping carry a lot of those businesses during the dark times of the pandemic.” He added, “Now that the pandemic is coming to an end, you’re helping to keep the lights on and we appreciate that.”

Mary Joy Pipe, owner of The East End Shirt Co. and president of Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, discussed the cooperation between the chamber and PSEGLI. She suggested that investments such as these require foresight and ingenuity to be successful. 

“A lot of foresight was given to how this could be an advantage for the small businesses in our community,” she said. “Thank you to PSEG for that foresight.”

To learn more about the grant programs offered by PSEGLI, visit the website www.psegliny.com/inthecommunity/revitalization.

Theresa Livingston outside of Harbor Square Mall, where her new Bar Method studio will soon open. Photo by Julianne Mosher

By Julianne Mosher

Something new is heading into Port Jefferson village.

The Bar Method, a workout studio that was designed with high repetition and low impact resistance training, is officially set to open its third Long Island location right in Port Jefferson. 

Theresa Livingston, the franchise owner, said she fell in love with barre almost a decade ago, but during the COVID-19 pandemic realized she wanted to bring this method close to home. 

“As I got older, my joints really started to hurt and it just wasn’t maintainable anymore,” the Selden mom said. “I was looking for something that’s easy on the body and I found barre. It just works.”

Livingston said that in barre practice, one matches the working in the muscle to stretching where you lengthen and strengthen.“It’s just something you can do forever,” she said. 

The Bar Method is all about educating our students, how they can be in tune with their body.

— Theresa Livingston

During the pandemic, Livingston said she started trying The Bar Method through their online classes and she knew it was the right fit. 

Compared to other barre studios, instructors for The Bar Method have “hours and hours” of training, Livingston said. 

“We work with personal trainers, we’re taught proper alignment and modifications, and then we work in the studio to train for months before becoming an instructor,” she added. 

According to the company’s website, The Bar Method exercises also include elements of Pilates, yoga and other strength training workouts fused into a ballet-inspired barre workout. 

But Livingston said one doesn’t necessarily have to have a dance background to succeed and see results. 

“The choreography that we do is easy to follow,” she said, “We have so many different props and equipment that you can use to help and bars in the room or different heights. So, everything can be modified.”

While Livingston was practicing online, she also traveled to The Bar Method’s only two other locations on Long Island — Huntington and Roslyn.

The commutes were long, so she said, “Let’s get one closer to us.”

“I just thought I thought the village would be the perfect spot for this,” she said. “It’s such a community. People live here, they shop here and they want to stay here. So, I just felt like it would be great to have The Bar Method here.”

Livingston signed her franchise agreement in September and officially locked in the space inside Harbor Square Mall at the end of October. 

Located right on Main Street, The Bar Method is planned to take over the back part of the mall with its own entrance right next to PJ Lobster House. Livingston said that when a student walks in, the plan includes a big, open lobby featuring different apparel and retail. Inside, the studio space will have roughly 30 bar spots along with a locker room, makeup area and showers.

Livingston is anticipating a summer opening and for now is looking to get the word out about the method and what it’s all about.

“The Bar Method is all about educating our students, how they can be in tune with their body and know what’s happening,” she said. “It’s a workout that just kind of fits whatever it is they need.”

In the interim, Livingston said that she and her instructors are planning free community lessons that will pop up around the village. 

For more updates on Port Jeff’s new workout spot, interested students can follow on Instagram @barmethodportjeffvillage.

Photo by Kimberly Brown

A new all-natural dog food store called Natural Hounds is making its mark in the Port Jefferson Village scene. 

St. James resident Conor Wooley, 23, is not only the owner of Natural Hounds, but also doubles as the chef, creating new concoctions for nutritious dog food that includes meats, vegetables and grains.

He co-owns the store with his longtime friend, Rick Orlandi, who is also a St. James resident, and started their business venture back in 2018, operating out of the house of Wooley’s mother. 

Trying to make as many appearances as possible at farmers markets and fundraisers, Wooley and Orlandi were determined to establish credibility for their business and build a clientele. 

“The first year everyone was just kind of looking at us thinking, ‘Am I really going to buy dog food from 18-year-olds?’ So that was kind of a challenge, but then they kept seeing us come back year after year,” Wooley said.

The concept Wooley and Orlandi like to explain to their customers is their belief that there is no “dog food” and “people food” but more so only good food versus bad food. Their ingredients are outsourced from restaurant suppliers on Long Island and designed to be biologically appropriate for a dog to eat.

There are four wet food recipes for sale right now, namely turkey, beef, pork and lamb. The newest addition of crunchy biscuits and chicken jerky treats have been added to their menu, but Orlandi said there are more options available in store. Customers can opt for delivery for convenience as well.

“Comparing our brand to dry food brands is like comparing McDonald’s to a steakhouse. I never understood why other brands make their food so expensive. I always try to give value to the customer and will not have someone pay a ridiculous amount of money for dog food,” Orlandi said. 

Mentioning how some customers have expressed their gratitude for Natural Hounds making their pups healthy again, Wooley recalled a customer who was preparing to put her dog down due to poor health until she was introduced to the company. 

“We had a lady come in the other day and told us she was going to put her dog down, who was an old Yorkshire terrier,” Wooley said. “She gave him our original recipe and two weeks later he was much healthier and more mobile. So it’s nice to hear things like that and makes getting up at 6 a.m. to cook 500 pounds of dog food worth it.”

Wooley stressed that despite the saying “You are what you eat” is corny, it is also extremely true. When feeding animals an unhealthy diet, can change their personalities and their energy levels. 

“It’s the truth if over the course of 10 years you’re feeding your dog something bad and their body isn’t functioning optimally, then they’re going to be in a much different spot than if you were to feed them natural meals.”

The business is looking to expand to other locations and thinking about adding a cat food section. 

A look inside the new Sue La La Couture on E Main Street. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Originally located at 1506 Main Street in Upper Port, Sue La La Couture decided to move down to E Main Street for a new opportunity.

Although the East Main location is a bit smaller, owner Sue Gence said the new space will give her more exposure and have a different atmosphere than her former spot.

“I was waiting for uptown to change,” she said. “But after four years, nothing was done and my landlord was selling the building.”

Gence said she had the opportunity to stay at the old store, but she took it as a sign for her to make a change, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I was closed for nine months,” she said. “I survived somehow.”

Known for selling dresses for prom, Sweet 16s, homecoming, flower girls, bridesmaids and mothers of the brides, the pandemic hit her business since all of those events were cancelled.

But Gence is feeling hopeful now that the vaccines are here and things are beginning to open back up.

“I feel like everybody wants to get out of the house and wants to celebrate something,” she said. “This season is actually really, really, really busy — especially down here.”

The old Sue La La Couture closed on Dec. 31 and reopened next to the former Max & Millie storefront in mid-January. 

Gence, a Rocky Point resident, said she opened the store when she was just 33 because she loved glitter and making other women feel beautiful. 

“Eventually I want to design my own clothes and create my own brand,” she said. 

Sue La La Couture is open five days a week — closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays — by appointment only.

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File photo

Two men have been arrested for allegedly robbing a CVS in Port Jefferson.

On Thursday, Dec. 17, at approximately 5 p.m., Suffolk County Police arrested two men who entered the CVS, located at 464 Main Street.

The two men displayed a gun and demanded cash.

Major Case Unit detectives were surveilling the location when the robbery took place. They arrested Clem Narcisse and his accomplice Lemarvin Rowan, Jr. a short distance away.

Narcisse, 47, of Brentwood, and Rowan Jr, 52, who is un-domiciled, were charged with Robbery 1st Degree. They are scheduled for arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip on Dec. 18.

 

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Official sources said constables and a small group of young men got into a physical confrontation in the alleyway beside Chase Bank. Photo from Google Maps

A small group of young people got into a physical confrontation with Port Jefferson constables Wednesday, Sept. 2 after blocking traffic on Main Street. Officials said one code enforcement officer later required a visit to the hospital because of injuries sustained during the incident. 

Witnesses said a group of around a dozen young people, some with bikes and some without, stopped at the Starbucks along Main Street sometime after 3 p.m. When some young people went in to get drinks, one got into the middle of the street, stopped traffic and performed a few feats of acrobatics such as a backflip, cheered on by his friends on the sidewalk. Shortly after, the young man then sat “indian style” in the double yellow median in the middle of the busy street. 

Bystanders, fearing for the young man’s safety, called code enforcement, who arrived shortly after to confront the young men and get them to move from the street and their bikes from the curb.

In response to a request for details on the incident, Suffolk County Police said a group of teens on bicycles were blocking traffic on Main Street in Port Jefferson just before 4 p.m. Sept. 2 when they were told by code enforcement officers to move out of the roadway. Police said that the teens allegedly did not immediately comply and one of them pushed a code enforcement officer. 

Witnesses said the confrontation on Main Street moved to the alleyway beside Chase Bank, where some described that the confrontation became physical between constables and the young bikers. Details from witnesses on what transpired were imprecise, but official sources did confirm there was some kind of violent contact between at least one young man and code enforcement officers. 

Deputy Village Attorney Richard Harris said Code Enforcement Chief Fred Leute went to a hospital later that Wednesday night for injuries sustained during the encounter. Harris added that police told the village they were looking into charges. The village is still awaiting any further details from Suffolk County Police.

Village Trustee Kathianne Snaden, the liaison to code enforcement, said the altercation took place between just a few of the young men and code officers in the Chase Bank alleyway. Po

“[Police] have this case now under investigation,” Snaden said.

Police said that 6th precinct officers are still investigating, though they did not reveal if there were any arrests or charges filed.

For months residents have complained about groups of young bikers all across Suffolk County, either them doing tricks in the middle of busy roads or playing chicken with cars. Police have encouraged parents to talk to their children about the dangers of blocking traffic and riding in the middle of roads, but there have been more violent confrontations.

In early August, a large number of young bicyclists numbering around 30, according to witnesses and a now-removed video published to social media, harassed members of the Crossfit DHP gym in Port Jefferson Station. Shortly after that incident, police said two young men, both 15 years old of Centereach, were arrested later at their homes for violent actions during the August altercation. Police withheld the individuals’ names as they are both minors.

Mike Napoli, the owner of Gourmet Burger Bistro on Mill Creek Road, said he has personally had to deal with these young bicyclists on a regular basis throughout the summer. At one point, he said he confronted a group of about 20 who were outside his business when they were hosting outdoor dining.

“There’s families with young children, and [these young bicyclists] are doing wheelies, screaming, cursing in front of these people while they’re trying to eat,” Napoli said. “It’s a bad situation that needs to be stopped. The biggest problem is these kids know they can get away with things.”

 

Main Street in Port Jefferson. Photo by Sapphire Perara

The Village of Port Jefferson approved a permit for protesters to march down Main Street June 18. 

Leaders of the protest filed an application for the protest earlier last week. Village officials said during their June 15 meeting that, originally, the protesters wished to organize by the basketball courts and make three laps of the downtown area. Considering the disruption this would cause, officials said they would allow the protesters to park in the Perry Street parking lot by the Port Jefferson train station, march down Main Street and eventually stop in front of Village Hall in order to make speeches. The protest is set to convene after 4 p.m, then start the march at 5 p.m. and end at 7 p.m.

Malachai Moloney, the speaker of the house for the Black Student Union at Stony Brook University, is at the head of facilitating and promoting the protest. He said the point of the march in PJ village is to give people more insight and perspective into how black communities feel on Long Island, especially in the wake of the deaths of black people nationwide before and after the killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd while in police custody May 26.

While village officials were concerned that those gathered wouldn’t leave the area after the time the application and flyers denoted, during the village’s live broadcasted meeting on YouTube, multiple people who claimed they were organizers for the protest said they intended it to remain peaceful, and that they would disband after holding speeches at Village Hall.

Along with the application, there is a fee attached that Mayor Margot Garant said helps to offset costs for additional village code presence. Village Clerk Barbara Sakovich confirmed protesters dropped off a check for that application fee the morning of June 15.

“It’s in our best interest to let this group organize peacefully rather than not organize peacefully,” Garant said. “At that point we would have another kind of organized protest of a different tonality.”

She added that the safety of the community “is of the utmost importance, only secondary to following the law.”

Moloney said the group originally planned to host the rally Friday, June 19, otherwise known as Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when a U.S. general finally read out orders in Texas that all slaves were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted. However, village officials emphasized to Moloney and other organizers it could not be hosted then. The airways have been abuzz due to the connotations of President Donald Trump (R) originally planning a rally on that date in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of the Tulsa race massacre that took place June 1, 1921. 

Otherwise, the protest organizer said he felt the village was only protecting village commerce and could do better to respect the opinions of the protesters.

“They want us to protest in a manner that’s convenient for them,” he said. “A protest is not supposed to not be disruptive.”

Other protests in neighboring communities have not necessarily filed permits, but village trustees said the fact organizers did file an application shows a degree of willingness to cooperate.

“We certainly appreciate reaching out and filing a permit for the event application — it is a very good thing — it’s appreciated by the village and we appreciate their goodwill,” said village attorney Brian Egan.

Moloney said the group used GoFundMe to fundraise for the $400 in fees to the village. He said the protesters were willing to do that but added that groups of counterprotesters who have already said online they likely will show up in response to the march are not filing an application or paying the village to convene. Moloney said its unfair how the onus is on marchers to follow the proper procedure, while those looking to decry their message will not go through that same process.

The village has not recieved any applications to convene from counterprotesters, and officials said the village has not given any other groups permission to assemble on that day.

Police and code enforcement have been notified, officials said. Main Street will be closed while the protesters make their way down Main Street, similar to how the roads are blocked during events like the Easter parade when it makes its way down to Harborfront Park. 

The village also stipulated in the permit that masks must be worn, and on the protests’ flyer it also states everyone is expected to wear masks. 

Garant said the question of social distancing was up to state mandates, which already stipulated that masks must be worn when people are unable to socially distance themselves. 

According to Suffolk County officials, the county has already played host to around 100 protests. So far, police have said, nearly all protests have remained peaceful. 

This article has been amended June 17 to clarify no others groups have been authorized to assemble.

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A sign announces the coming of Main St. Board Game Cafe on Huntington's Main Street. Photo from Facebook

There’s something different about sitting down to play a board game. Unlike a video game or a movie, a board game with all its little cards and pictures is abstracted. When several people sit around a table with cards stacked in front of them, calculating their next move, they are all transported somewhere different, from haunted houses and mercantile guild halls to the legendary halls of King Arthur’s court.

It’s an experience that several Huntington locals are hoping to bring to Huntington village with the Main St. Board Game Café. Owner Neil Goldberg said he hopes to start construction on the board game parlor and cafe this holiday season.

“I have two kids, 9 and 6 [years old], and they love what their friends love,” he said. “They play video games and they’ll play it until I tell them to stop. I want them to have something where they’re not staring at a screen — where you talk, think, plan and interact with something that has value.”

A pile of board games owner Neil Goldberg said is compiling for Main St. Board Game Cafe. Photo from Facebook

Goldberg said the cafe will have a selection of close to 300 games on hand. He plans to have
a selection of classics, like the popular Settlers of Catan board game and following series,
where players gather resources in an effort to colonize an island. The owner also wants to introduce narrative-based games like Mysterium, where players take on the role of psychic detectives trying to help a ghost, controlled by another player, in finding the person who murdered them. The shop is prepared to host role-playing game groups playing games like Dungeons & Dragons with an in-house gamemaster.

“We love being on our phones, but to a certain extent we’re all sick of it,” said Didi Feuer, one of the upcoming cafe’s employees. “It’s an easy way to spend time, but at the end there’s something not fulfilling about it. I think people are craving a face-to-face social interaction without screens.”

Board game cafes have been cropping all across New York City, but they have yet to have a presence on Long Island. Goldberg said he started playing board games at a young age. He can still remember playing such classic games as Scotland Yard and Stop Thief!, but eventually forgot much about them as adulthood set in. For more than 20 years, the future cafe owner worked as a producer for New York One’s sports programming. Eventually NY1 canceled its sports broadcasting, but Goldberg was already starting on another tack when a friend of his alerted him to a remake of Stop Thief! on Kickstarter.

“You ever have a rosebud moment?” Goldberg said, referring to the catalytic moment of the 1941 movie “Citizen Kane.” “I’m in my mid-40s and I flashback to being 10 or 12 years old.”

The space will also include a cafe area, where Goldberg expects to sell coffee and other soft drinks. If the new business can secure a license, he hopes to sell wines and craft beers selected from local breweries in the evening.

Goldberg said he expects the board games will be the element that draws in the crowds. The last several years have been kind to the board game industry, according to Goldberg. With the advent of crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter, new and unique games have had the opportunity to reach out and find support directly from the audience interested in playing them. The new business owner said he wants to bring these games into the limelight and take the stigma away from the industry that the only games available are Monopoly or Scrabble.

With tabletop board games there is infinite complexity, infinite aesthetics and an infinite number of things one can accomplish.”

— Neil Goldberg

“With tabletop board games there is infinite complexity, infinite aesthetics and an infinite number of things one can accomplish,” Goldberg said.

So far, he has hired a number of experienced people in the gaming industry, including Feuer, who previously worked at the Brooklyn Strategist and another board game cafe in the city. Feuer plans to help run its after-school programs, one group for kids in first and second grades, with another group for third- through fifth-graders. There will also be a Dungeons & Dragons group available for older children.

The after-school programs will be designed to start out with simple games, such as Othello and Azul, before progressively introducing more difficult games and choices players can make more complex. Feuer said tabletop games are unique in how they teach kids basic skill, like reading comprehension, mathematics and deductive skills, in a social environment.

“Everyone’s sitting down and agreeing that right now there’s an island called Catan, and right now our job is to find resources and settle Catan,” Feuer said, “It’s teaching kids they have the capability, that they can show that they did focus for two hours and still have fun.”

Goldberg said he expected to start renovations after the Thanksgiving holiday. The location will be at 307 Main St. in Huntington and, hopefully, open for business in early 2019.

Gunther's Tap Room in Northport is ready for business. Photo from Facebook.

The iconic Gunther’s Tap Room is reopening for business.

The Main Street watering hole in Northport built by Peter Gunther Sr., the late ex-chief of Northport Fire Department, has been rebuilt by the community it once served. Now, it’s ready to become the “bar of the people” again.

“As long as all goes well, we are looking to open for business Thursday or Friday,” co-owner Brad Vassallo told TBR News Media Aug. 31. “We have 20 to 30 people a day who pop their heads in here to ask, and we are excited.”

Everybody loves Gunther’s, it’s the late-night place to go. “It would have been really upsetting to see it not reopen and become something else.”

— Vince Terranova

It’s been more than a year since an early morning fire gutted the historic bar May 23, 2017, where one from locals to American novelist Jack Kerouac have sat down to have a pint.

“It was very emotional for all of us, as we’ve all felt the pain,” Northport native Bob Hagan said. “Being personal friends with the original owner, it was really difficult to see that happen.”

Hagan and his business partner, Eddie Carr, donated custom hardwood flooring to replace the former linoleum tiling. The 10-inch planks were installed and sealed with the final coat of stain earlier this week.

“It was probably more emotional than financial on our part as we wanted to see it rebuilt as quickly as possible,” he said.

Northport resident Vince Terranova also stepped forward and helped the Northport bar by donating to the reconstruction and renovation of the bathrooms, according to Vassallo.

“Everybody loves Gunther’s, it’s the late-night place to go,” Terranova said. “It would have been really upsetting to see it not reopen and become something else.”

Gunther’s co-owners, Vassallo and Eddie McGrath, had only taken over running the bar for roughly a year before it burned down, which hit home as they appreciated the local history it contained.

It has that same Gunther’s feel that it always had, which is always what we were trying to do.”

— Brad Vassallo

The walls have been repainted in the same original orange-and-brown color scheme with a red door that’s all “part of the history,” according to Vassallo. A few of the old pieces of memorabilia, photos and mirrors dug out after the fire, will be hung back on the wall over time. Vassallo said he has reached out to Gunther’s daughter, Lori Kerman, in an attempt to get replicas of the old newspaper articles that used to decorate the bar.

“It has that same Gunther’s feel that it always had, which is always what we were trying to do,” the co-owner said.

One infamous piece that’s been removed is the structural support pole near the pool table, according the owners. It was no longer needed when the 100-year-old building was reconstructed to modern safety standards.

“It’s a big change,” Vassallo said. “We plan on putting the pole back up near the bar for the nostalgia.”

He said one key piece at the heart of Gunther’s Tap Room that was salvaged is the original bar top. The piece has been painstakingly restored by Northport painter Robert Sturner. He said it required stripping the bar top down to its original wood, restaining it and layering six coats of polyurethane over it to preserve it.

“I polyurethaned right over the burns,” he said. “It adds something to it — it tells the story.”

“So many situations have happened in Northport like this, and over and over again, the community steps forward to pick up the pieces and help out.”

— Brad Vassallo

Even more important than the bar itself, Vassallo said the tap room’s bartenders and staff will be returning to pour a glass for their regulars. Many have already committed to their old shifts.

“It’s the people who make Gunther’s what it is,” he said.

Many had taken up a hodgepodge of shifts at other local establishments in order to offset the financial hardships for the last 16 months. Community fundraisers were launched to raise funds to help employees pay their bills, with more than $8,000 raised via GoFundMe for employees of the business.

“Northport is a close community and people here seem to take care of each other,” Vassallo said. “So many situations have happened in Northport like this, and over and over again, the community steps forward to pick up the pieces and help out.”

Sturner said he’s just glad to be one of the dozens who lent a hand in helping Gunther’s start its next chapter.

“I am grateful to have been a part of it,” he said. “They are my friends, and that’s my bar.”

Attorney Philip Butler, an associate of Weber Law Group, explains a puzzle that might be inside one of Puzzle Break's escape rooms. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Kyle Barr

A new interactive game center has the green light to excite and perplex Smithtown Main Street shoppers this coming summer after eight months of extensive negotiations with town officials.

Puzzle Break Long Island will offer escape-the-room style games for individuals eight years of age and older in its new Smithtown location. Participants, working in teams of up to 12 people, are stuck inside a room and must work together to solve a number of unusual puzzles in order to make it out of the room within a one-hour time limit.

We got into the escape room business because we wanted to bring people together in a fun, interactive environment.”
– Ian Kelly

“We got into the escape room business because we wanted to bring people together in a fun, interactive environment,” said Ian Kelly, general manager of Puzzle Break LI, said in an email statement. “We’re excited to bring a fun, family friendly establishment to Smithtown that’s good for everything from birthday
parties to corporate team building events.”

Smithtown Town Board members voted unanimously April 26 to give the project a special exception permit to create the 4,432-square-foot game center located in the shell of what once was Cornet Music on Main Street. The building was zoned for retail use only, and the company was required to demonstrate meeting 17 zoning requirement to allow the game center to open as well as a parking variance.

“This was one of the more enjoyable applications because the applicant and the town were on the same page,” said Bram Weber, an attorney with Melville-based Weber Law Group representing Puzzle Break LI. “I know Smithtown is looking for new ways to have vibrant downtowns, and this is a perfect use

Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said he is excited to see if this new type of business in the area will help increase traffic to Smithtown’s downtown businesses.

“I think it’s going to be good for the business community.”
– Ed Wehrheim

“I think it’s going to be good for the business community,” Wehrheim said. “I think we have to move toward things like that, that make a destination point for the business district. Generally, once you have them there like this, they’ll use one of the restaurants, ice cream parlor or something like that.”

The company hopes to build four different puzzle rooms, each with its own theme and challenges. In its current Syosset location, the escape rooms themes are modeled after “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” a carnival, exploring inside an ancient Egyptian tomb and one is based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

Representatives for Puzzle Break LI said renovations are getting underway, with hopes of opening for business this summer. Their puzzles are harder than your average crossword, according to Kelly, with only a 15 percent managing to successfully escape.

“Our escape rooms are definitely challenging,” he said. “Our escape rooms bring people together without the use of Siri or Google. Yes, that means people actually interact with one another.”