In what organizers hope will be the start of an annual tradition, sections of Plandome Road will be closed on Sunday to make way for an outdoor dining, shopping and entertainment event known as Manhasset Al Fresco.
Hosted by the Manhasset Chamber of Commerce and inspired by a similar slate of events in Port Washington and Garden City, the pedestrian-only event will showcase local restaurants and businesses for a series of eight summer nights every other Sunday. No tickets are required to enter and parking will be available at Town Hall.
Matt Donno, co-president of the Manhasst Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the benefits of the event for small businesses, especially as pandemic health restrictions ease.
“It’s time to reopen the world,” Donno said. “We’re proud that this is going to be beneficial to the businesses.”
Donno chose Sunday evenings after consulting with the participating businesses, allowing certain establishments that would typically close earlier to stay open longer.
In addition to food, Manhasset Al Fresco will feature live entertainment from local musicians, with the John Byrnes Band performing at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
In organizing the street festival, Donno attested to coordinating all the moving parts, but reaffirmed his relationship with the Town of North Hempstead, saying how good it was to see people come together and supporting each other.
“The Town of North Hempstead has been fabulous working with us,” Donno said. “It’s great to see that you have the support of the people running the Town of North Hempstead, the Fire Department, police; everybody’s coming together because they see the benefit of this for the business community and the town itself.”
But even as coronavirus health restrictions relax, Donno said support for businesses is just as necessary now as it was during the height of the pandemic.
“As co-president of the Chamber of Commerce my goal is to always look out for the businesses,” Donno said. “Support your community, especially in an Amazon-run world where everybody’s online shopping.”
And for those that survived the past 15 months, Donno offered the event as an opportunity for locals to show the same support businesses give for community events.
“Every sporting event or theater production or anything that goes on in this town, the businesses are who donate,” Donno said. “So this is a great opportunity for our community to come out and support these businesses too.”
Among the businesses participating in Manhasset Al Fresco is Villa Milano. The restaurant’s co-owner, Don Bekteshi, predicted that the nights will be a great success for his locally celebrated restaurant and neighborhood.
“I am very confident, and I am very positive that it’ll do well,” Bekteshi said. “We might be a little rusty; we have to oil ourselves a little bit, but we should be OK.”
From 3:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., partial closures of Plandome Road will extend between Park Avenue to Dennis Street and Webster Avenue to Hillside Avenue.
“There’s nothing wrong with change,” Bekteshi said about the event. “You always have to experiment things.”