Written by Jaime L. Tomeo Thursday, 25 June 2009 11:02
The rain may have dampened days for U.S. Open spectators, but it was a boon for some Farmingdale businesses as golf fans trickled in to stores and restaurants to keep dry.
Just a two-minute walk from train station shuttles ferrying golf fans back and forth to Bethpage State Park, downtown Farmingdale merchants were ready to cater to U.S. Open crowds.
“The rain has created a festive atmosphere on Main Street as golf fans from around the world descend on our downtown for a break from the action or to wait out the weather,” Legislator Dave Mejias said.
Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Podolski said restaurants had waiting lines for tables.
“Some businesses, because of their type of business, were busier in the mornings for bagels and coffee, others were busier in the evening,” she added. “ Mother Nature may have put a damper on the U.S. Open but the rain was great for local business. All in all, it was a successful event for locals.”
Farmingdale Village sent out an email on June 18 stating “spectators didn’t catch the train home today, as many took the walk in the rain to Main Street.”
Mayor Butch Starkie said the U.S. Open has been “nothing but superlative” for the village. According to village officials, Croxley Ales House and Library Café drew the biggest crowds.
“What a difference from 2002,” said General Manager Michael DiTroia of the Library Café, who recently hosted celebrities at his restaurant such as Justin Timberlake and Michael Jordan. “It was a ghost town last time. No one came down to the village. Now the restaurants are packed. It’s great.”
Jeff Piciullo of Croxley Ales added, “We are very happy with the turnout. We have seen a lot of new faces.”
Ubaldo’s owner Ubaldo Gennrini said his Italian restaurant saw “a little improvement, but not enough.”
Gennrini said both out-of-towners and regulars filled the tables of the 35-year village mainstay. Still he said he would have liked to have had more customers.
Specialty stores like The Chocolate Duck and Infinite Yarns did not see a boom in business, nor did they expect to.
Infinite Yarns owner Anne Schneck said she had a lone customer all weekend.
“He was a golf spectator who bought some yarn for his wife,” she added. “It didn’t harm me in any way and if people saw my shop, they might go home and check me out on the Web.”
Schneck said she did not take advantage of any advertising opportunities regarding the U.S. Open and “it’s a good thing because I would’ve lost out.”
The Chocolate Duck owner Harry Cohen agreed with Schneck, adding that business for him actually went down a little.
“I even made sleeves of chocolate golf balls and other things just to say ‘Farmingdale welcomes you,’ but nothing,” he said.
Nancy Cattabiani, a manager at The Runner’s Edge said they saw an increase in sales on June 18, the day the Open was rained out.
“We had customers from out of town,” she added.
While Cattabiani mentioned the Open kept regular customers away that “thought it was crowded in town,” she said it was “a wonderful thing and we can’t wait for it to happen again.”
Bollinger’s Family Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor saw a “bit of an upturn” in business on Sunday morning when play for the U.S. Open was suspended until noon.
“We had a lot of people here for breakfast,” said Assistant Manager Kenny Lobban. “It doubled at least.”
Lobban said there was also a big increase in ice cream and Italian ice sales.
Calls to Terry G’s, The Nutty Irishman and Wasabi were not returned as of press time.
To entice visitors even more, the Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce offered a village map, which included a keychain offering a 10 percent discount or free gift at participating downtown businesses.
While the USGA provided free shuttles to and from the Farmingdale Train Station, the village offered free trolley up and down Main Street.
“That was a problem when the Open came in 2002,” said Mayor Starkie. “You can come and go as you please and there are shuttles and trolleys that can take you to our Main Street and back to the park.”