“It’s been total hell for us. It’s a nightmare.”
Sam, who declined to give his last name, is the owner of The St James, a bar and restaurant in Mineola. He said businesses like his on 2nd Street in Mineola are struggling to stay afloat as a result of construction of a 266-unit apartment building by Lalezarian Properties that aims to be completed in 18 months to 2 years.
A major concern is a lack of parking, he said, and no one is doing anything to help.
“The landlord isn’t helping at all,” he said. “The village is trying to do the right thing, but there’s not much that they can do. The company doing the construction couldn’t give a damn.”
Sam said that lunch business at The St James is down at least 50 percent, and he has had issues keeping staff because he can no longer keep a regular staff during the week. Weekends tend to get busier, but because he isn’t able to provide full-time jobs for his workers, it has been a struggle to retain staff.
Other businesses are feeling the heat as well.
“It’s affecting everyone. A restaurant just closed on the corner,” he said.
One of the biggest issues affecting the businesses is the lack of parking due to construction. The little parking that is available is being taken up by construction workers, Sam said.
This has not only frustrated the businesses but has caused customers to become fed up as well. Lack of parking means that customers can’t come into these shops, and risk parking tickets if they do.
Sam said that he has gotten at least $400 in tickets in the past year – all due to the lack of parking as a result of the apartment complex going up.
“Everyone is just trying to stay afloat,” said Sam. “All businesses are struggling mightily. It looks like a ghost town at night. I don’t think they care if anyone shuts down. I’m the only place open at night.”
Businesses in the area have tried to bring customers into their shops while construction is going on. Sam said that he has tried advertising and is going to try to run specials for NYU Winthrop Hospital employees in the next few months.
Sam said has also tried speaking with Lalezarian Properties but to no avail. He said that the company is just trying to get a building up, and doesn’t care what happens to businesses in the area.
Lalezarian Properties did not respond to a request for comment.
And, while the village is doing its best, officials have simply told businesses to “hold out,” according to Sam. Efforts to reach the mayor were unavailing.
“How do we know that things are going to be fine?” Sam said. “We are losing a lot of money. I’m pumping money into the business every week to keep it going.”
“It’s a 35-year bar and restaurant,” Sam said about The St James. “I’m trying my best, but I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this.”
“Do I close my doors, do I sell the business? I don’t know. It’s not fair.”