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Three Village Chamber of Commerce

On June 13, members of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce let the community know that the area is open for business. Photo by Julianne Mosher

By Julianne Mosher

Members from the Three Village Chamber of Commerce want the community to know that they are open and ready to serve.

Last week, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) giving the green light for shops on Long Island to open their doors during Phase 2, the chamber wants to assure everyone that these small businesses are taking the extra precautions in the wake of the pandemic.

“They are providing gloves to customers and employees, taking temperatures, wearing masks and making sure masks are enforced,” said Jane Taylor, executive director of the chamber. “They’re being careful about social distancing and encouraging sidewalk sales or outdoor dining where available.”

Overseeing small businesses in Setauket, Stony Brook, East Setauket and Old Field, Taylor said that supporting local establishments during these trying times is beneficial to everyone.

“These businesses are our neighbors and friends,” she said. “They’re the ones who are the backbone of our communities.”

Charlie Lefkowitz, president of the chamber, said that shopping small businesses benefits the economic growth of Long Island.

“It supports our local economy and keeps our great community vibrant,” he said.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health have a new set of guidelines that do not allow more than a designated number of customers in at a time, as well as no indoor dining as of yet, Lefkowitz is encouraging people to partake in what the Three Village area has to offer.

“If it’s done in a safe, social distanced manner by both the owner and the public, I support it strongly,” he said.

His favorite spot? The Three Village Inn’s outdoor seating section.

“It was outstanding,” he said. “We’re supporting our neighbors and the service was unparalleled.”

Ed Romaine. Photo by Kyle Barr

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) is optimistic about the financial future of the town despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented. He said he is already thinking of ideas to help small businesses in the future.

Romaine called into a phone conference with members of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce April 6.

He told participants the town board is meeting virtually every day, and he is also connecting with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and other town supervisors on a regular basis.

On the agenda for town board April 6 was whether to keep town beaches open, he said, as health experts were saying the current week could be the worst so far for new coronavirus cases. Later that day the decision was made to close Brookhaven beaches.

Romaine said a few Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department deputies have been working with the town to deliver meals to more than 200 seniors in Brookhaven.

Charlie Lefkowitz, chamber president, asked if the town foresees any financial problems due to the pandemic.

Romaine said while landfill revenues are going down and a shortfall is anticipated, he said the town will not need to raise taxes.

“The town will continue to function,” he said.  “We have reserves. We will make it through this. And we do not anticipate … it’s a problem but it’s not going to be a big problem. It’s resolvable, and we’re not going to take it out on the taxpayers.”

The town board voted at a special meeting April 7 to create a post-COVID-19 task force for economic recovery that will aim to revitalize the downtown areas and help small businesses affected by the pandemic, many of which are receiving no income at all during this time.

“Many of these small businesses are mom and pop businesses,” the supervisor said.

Lisa Mulligan, the town director of economic development has been appointed chairwoman. Three individuals will be appointed by the supervisor, and each councilperson will be able to appoint two more. As of press time, no other persons have yet to be nominated to the task force.

On Monday, Lefkowitz said the chamber is willing to be part of a task force, and Romaine said he will take recommendations from the chamber seriously.

“Believe me we will work shoulder to shoulder with you to bring back our local businesses and do everything that we can do legally to help you guys out,” he said. “I know what this means. This is something that no one could have predicted in their lifetime.”

Romaine said business owners and residents can find updates on COVID-19 related issues on the town’s website, www.brookhavenny.gov.

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting and grand-opening celebration for Gypsy Hair Lounge on Feb. 27. Established in 2015, the salon recently moved from its Port Jefferson Station location on Nesconset Highway to the Three Village Shopping Center at 1389 Route 25A in East Setauket. The salon specializes in creative coloring, highlights, blowouts, extensions and event styling. 

Chamber members Michael Ardolino, Jane Taylor and Charlie Lefkowitz presented a Certificate of Congratulations to owner Nicole Digilio and welcomed her and her staff to the community. 

Hours of operation are noon to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call 631-374-6397.

From left, chamber members Jane Taylor, Carmine Inserra and John Tsunis; owners Kevin Ma and Tim Cheung; Councilwoman Valerie Cartright; and chamber members Jamie Ladone and Rob Taylor. Photo from TV Chamber of Commerce

Grand opening 

Members of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright welcomed owners Tim Cheung and Kevin Ma of Sei Ramen to the community during a grand-opening celebration on Feb. 12. Located in the Wild by Nature Plaza at 244 Route 25A in Setauket, the Japanese restaurant is known for its traditional Ramen authentic recipes. For more information, call 631-675-0808 or visit www.seiramen.com.

 

 

David Prestia, third from right, at the 2019 Three Village Community Trust annual gala. Photo from David Prestia

By Leah Chiappino

For David Prestia, the owner of Bagel Express in Setauket, being part of the Three Village area is more than being a business owner, he also gets involved in the community.

He consistently takes time out of his schedule to give back to the area in the form of donations, volunteerism and community engagement. He’s the machine behind the hot chocolate at the Three Village Electric Holiday Parade and the cook at the annual Three Village Chamber of Commerce Barbecue at West Meadow Beach.

Having grown up with a family who owned an Italian deli, Prestia says he was the only one of four brothers who didn’t work in the deli when he was growing up. However, after receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from St. John’s University in Queens, he began working with his father and fell in love with the food business. He then opened Fratelli’s Market Place in Astoria, Queens, and expanded it to locations in Roslyn, Forest Hills, Manhattan and Stony Brook village.

“David brings a businessperson’s perspective to trust operations along with his good humor and enthusiasm for our preservation mission.”

– Robert Reuter

When he first moved to Setauket 30 years ago, he jumped on the opportunity to open a bagel store. He has owned Bagel Express in Setauket, along with his partner Eric Keller and brother Michael Prestia, ever since. Having sold Fratelli’s Market Place, his focus is running the Setauket location, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and supplying Bagel Express in Smithtown and Sayville.

While running his business, he manages to contribute to the community and is on the board of the Three Village Community Trust, a not-for-profit land trust. Vice President Robert Reuter said Prestia has been instrumental in the business aspect of the organization.

“David brings a businessperson’s perspective to trust operations along with his good humor and enthusiasm for our preservation mission,” he said. “He shares that interest with his considerable network of friends and associates who know his dedication to our community and the result has been many new supporters.”

Having been a history major in college, Prestia said the rich history is one of his favorite things about the Three Village area, which inspired him to get involved in the Three Village Historical Society. He has donated food for the annual Candlelight House Tour for the past several years.

“Usually, if you ask, [Prestia] will donate, ” said Steve Healy, the president of the historical society. “People like Dave are not just in the community; they are the community. He is always willing to roll up his sleeves and help out.”

Prestia is also on the board of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce and involved with Seawolves United at Stony Brook University. He has sponsored Staller Center for the Arts receptions and the food concession at university basketball games. For the local business owner, getting involved was simply not a question.

“I’m very lucky,” Prestia said. “We’ve been successful with the business. It’s so important to give back to the community. There are so many things going on all the time. It’s a great place to raise a family, and the schools are wonderful. We’re so lucky to live here.”

 

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Rain may have postponed some fun Aug. 7, but the next day, more than 400 attendees at the Three Village Chamber of Commerce Community Family BBQ made up for it on the Aug. 8 rain date.

It was the chamber’s 19th barbecue held at West Meadow Beach where members and residents played games, had the chance to win raffle prizes donated by local businesses and enjoyed music as well as catering from David Prestia of Bagel Express. Children also had the chance to get their face painted. All proceeds from the raffle tickets sold at the barbecue went to Ronald McDonald House at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.

Michael Ardolino, president emeritus, said the barbecue ended with a beautiful sunset that was created by a storm coming over the Sound as the sun was going down. Fortunately, the barbecue was over before another rain event hit the area.

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Members of Three Village Chamber of Commerce.

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce is working with local businesses to ensure owners and employees are up to date when it comes to a new state law.

In October of 2018, New York State passed a law that requires all businesses, including churches and nonprofits, even if there is only one employee, to have a written sexual harassment policy and post it in a highly visible area, as well as provide each employee with a copy of the policy. All employees must be trained once a year and new employees soon after their start date, according to Christine Malafi, a senior partner with Ronkonkoma-based law firm Campolo, Middleton and McCormick.

Recently, Malafi led a discussion at the chamber’s March meeting titled “What the Sexual Harassment Law Means for Business.” The attorney shared insight into the new laws with local business owners and how they impact workplace policies and culture.

The discussion kicked off a new service where the chamber will sponsor two sexual harassment training workshops for employees of member and nonmember companies led by Malafi. The workshop will discuss what sexual harassment is, what one is allowed and not allowed to do and what to look for if harassment is suspected.

Malafi said she has found that many businesses aren’t up to date when it comes to their sexual harassment policies.

“It’s very important because it’s the MeToo era, and if someone makes a complaint against you or an employee, if you can’t check the boxes — yes, complied with this, yes, complied with that — you may find yourself facing liability,” she said.

Andy Polan, the Three Village chamber president, said the goal is to make the mandated training more accessible and affordable for members. An alternative for business owners, he said, would be to work directly with an attorney or insurance carrier who specializes in the law or take an online course. He said he has heard such services could cost $1,500 or more per business or practice, which he said can be a big hit for a small business or nonprofit.

“We want to help our members, and it’s adding value to their membership,” Polan said.

Malafi said the new law now covers independent contractors and other contracted workers.

In the last few years, Malafi said she has seen an increase in sexual harassment cases.

“The number of cases filed with the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] and similar agencies have doubled in the past few years,” she said, adding she doesn’t think actual occurrences have doubled, but people are more likely to report offensive language or action.

Workshops are scheduled for May 10 at 9 a.m. at the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center and May 21 at 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express at Stony Brook. Rates for chamber members are $15 per employee and $25 per person for nonmembers.

Preregistration is required and can be made online at www.3vchamber.com or by check to Three Village Chamber, P.O. Box 6, East Setauket, NY 11733.

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Jane Taylor, third from left, with some of her fellow board of trustee members at the Sept. 26 Three Village Chamber of Commerce meeting. Pictured with Taylor is John Tsunis, Michael Ardolino, Colette Frey-Bitzas, Elizabeth Miastkowski, Gloria Rocchio, Charles Lefkowitz, Andy Polan, Ron LaVita, Leah Dunaief, Billy Williams, Carmine Inserra and the Hon. Howard Bergson, who swore in the members. Photo from Three Village Chamber of Commerce

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce welcomed a new executive director at the beginning of September.

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor congratulates Jane Taylor on being chosen as Three Village Chamber of Commerce Member of the Year in June. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Jane Taylor, who retired in June as assistant head of The Stony Brook School, has taken on the leadership role. The position has been vacant since David Woods’ retirement last year. Taylor has been involved with the chamber for 20 years and a member of the board for more than five. In June, she was named Three Village Chamber of Commerce Member of the Year.

Charles Lefkowitz, first vice president of the chamber, said Taylor is the “last part of the puzzle for the reorganization of the chamber.” Over the last few years, he said the chamber has been undergoing a reorganization that has included planning events 12 months in advance and changing how they arrange networking activities to allow for more mingling.

“Jane Taylor is an outstanding selection for the executive director for the Three Village chamber, and she comes with a wealth of community involvement and knowledge of the Three Village area,” Lefkowitz said.

Taylor’s association with the organization came about when she first started at The Stony Brook School. She said she felt it was vital to network with community members to talk about issues and connect with local vendors.

“I felt it was an organization that was committed to the community and was something that was built on the importance of developing relationships,” she said.

When Taylor, who grew up in Pittsburgh, first moved to the Three Village area with her husband, Robert, 45 years ago, she started working at the school as a physical education teacher and coach. Taylor said when she started she was able to connect with the local athletic communities including Ward Melville and Port Jefferson.

“The local business community is one of the key elements that make a community healthy and vibrant.”

— Jane Taylor

“I realized that people really cared about this place and wanted me to be successful even though we were competing against these schools,” she said.

Taylor said her new responsibilities as executive director of the chamber include working with the board identifying goals for the coming year, making sure the e-newsletter is posted, building membership, visiting businesses and not-for-profits in the community, maintaining communication and “whatever needs to be done.”

She said she feels local businesses play an important role in communities, covering everything from when a baseball team needs a sponsor to who is hosting the Christmas parade.

“The local business community is one of the key elements that make a community healthy and vibrant,” she said, adding that she looks forward to helping local businesses grow.

Taylor lives with her husband in Stony Brook, has two grown children and two grandchildren. She said she has learned to juggle a lot in the past and looks forward to her new responsibilities.

“You just take what’s in front of you, put one foot in front of the other and assume the goodwill of everybody,” Taylor said.

Sun, food and fun were on the agenda at West Meadow Beach in Setauket.

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual family barbecue at the town beach Aug. 8. Bagel Express was on hand to serve the food, and the store’s owner Dave Prestia donated all the hamburgers and hot dogs. Attendees had a chance to win a variety of raffle prizes, and the Stony Brook Rotary provided a golf simulator.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) joined residents at the barbecue which has been an annual tradition of the chamber for nearly 20 years.

For more information about the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, visit www.3vchamber.com.

Charles Lefkowitz, right, one of the co-founders of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, presents an award to state Assemblyman Steve Englebright, center, along with George Hoffman, left, another founding member of the task force. Photo by Maria Hoffman

By Anthony Frasca

When he noticed there were issues with the cleanliness of Setauket Harbor, Charles Lefkowitz took matters into his own hands. A founding member of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, Lefkowitz has become an advocate for attention to the harbor.

“Nobody was doing anything and it was just deteriorating until Charlie and a bunch of us got together and said this harbor needs a group of people that will start advocating for its improvement,” said George Hoffman, also a founding member of the task force and a vice president of the Three Village Civic Association.

By forming the task force to call attention to the issues regarding the cleanliness of the harbor, such as roadway runoff, the group was able to procure a $1 million dollar grant in state funding with the help of state Senator John Flanagan (R-East Northport). The task force was also appointed to the Long Island Sound Study, a cooperative multistate effort to improve the water quality of Long Island Sound, in existence since 1985.

“As a founding member of the Setauket Harbor Task Force he has involved himself from the very beginning,” said state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), who has attended numerous task force meetings. “He has made time out of his very busy schedule to attend meetings, sometimes in the middle of a workday. He very often offers some of the most sage advice around the table. This is worth noting and saying thank you to Charlie for being part of the individual glue that holds our community together. It speaks to a level of sincerity of love of the community and serves as an example of what it means to be a community leader.”

Once an elected official in the Town of Brookhaven, Lefkowitz continues to involve himself with numerous community issues and advocacy groups in addition to the task force.

“He’s a former town councilman and his involvement in our community and to our town continues,” Englebright said. “If anything he is even more effective now because he is unshackled from politics, and he is able to express his commitment to making our community even better.”

“The subtle side of Charlie is that he is the owner of the Stop & Shop [shopping center] on Route 25A, and I’ve seen him outside pulling weeds out of the flower beds. That’s an indication of the level of detail he’s willing to invest himself in.”

— Steve Englebright

Hoffman said Lefkowitz is vice president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce and has reinvigorated the chamber by recruiting new people, broadening the chamber’s focus and making it more representative locally.

“Charlie is responsible for reinventing the chamber of commerce,” Hoffman said. “He is a driving force in keeping the group together and focused.”

Lefkowitz was also involved in the community visioning committees for the re-examination of the zoning along the Route 25A corridor in the Three Village area. Drivers along the state road in the vicinity of the Ridgeway Plaza Shopping Center can sometimes see Lefkowitz tending to the flower beds that are planted every spring.

“The subtle side of Charlie is that he is the owner of the Stop & Shop [shopping center] on Route 25A, and I’ve seen him outside pulling weeds out of the flower beds,” Englebright said. “That’s an indication of the level of detail he’s willing to invest himself in.”

Lefkowitz’s influence also extends beyond the Three Village area, according to Hoffman.

“He is a visionary on land use issues especially upper Port Jefferson in terms of its commercial viability,” Hoffman said. “He is also an advocate for electrification of the Port Jefferson branch of the Long Island Rail Road. He focuses on how to make it happen and for the first time we are seeing progress.”

Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said she has worked on various projects with Lefkowitz, and he is currently working with the town on implementing aspects of the Port Jefferson Station Commercial Hub Study on some of his properties.

“As a former councilman, chamber vice president, business owner and resident, Charlie has a unique perspective of our community,” Cartright said. “Charlie’s knowledge of real estate and of the history of the Three Village area was a valuable addition to the community forums my office held while working on the Route 25A-Three Village area corridor community visioning report this past year. The award of Person of the Year is well deserved by Charlie, and I look forward to seeing him continue to work with residents on community projects.”