Borrelli's Restaurant in East Meadow, located just 1,000 feet from the Nassau Coliseum, has been a staple in the community since 1955.
Since 1972, the Islanders have helped boost business at Borrelli's.
Frank Borrelli, operator and manager of the family-owned restaurant, has been working there since he was 13 years old. He recently sat down with Patch to discuss the importance of the Aug. 1 referendum on whether to permit Nassau County to borrow about $400 million to help build the team a new arena.
Patch: What does an Islanders game night mean to your restaurant?
Borrelli: Forty games times let’s say 100 people a game, that’s 4,000 people that won’t be coming to Borrelli’s just as fans – plus employees, people that work there and other things that you don’t see that go on before the game and after the game, or two days before the game.
Patch: How do the other events at the Coliseum affect business?
Borrelli: Last weekend there were two shows of 'Glee.' That place was packed with 15,000 people leaving the arena at 3 p.m. and another 15,000 people going to the arena for an 8 p.m. show, so we were jam-packed for the middle of that 30,000 people. I think if we build a new arena, we’ll see more of that.
Patch: Why else do you support the new arena?
Borrelli: If the Islanders leave and there’s no one to support the Nassau Coliseum, we’re going to lose the concerts, we’re going to lose the circus and we’re going to lose all of the events that are going on there. We’re going to lose a lot of tax dollars that are coming in – people staying at hotels, going to restaurants, buying gas in our community – they’re going to have to go out of Nassau County to spend our Nassau County-earned dollars.
Patch: But homeowners in Nassau County are already paying high property taxes, and some have voiced a concern that they can't afford to pay more.
Borrelli: Yes, we can’t afford to pay any more, but you own a home. If you don’t fix your home, your property values are going to go down. ... It’s like the homeowner: if he doesn’t do his lawn, if he doesn’t fix his house, put new windows on his house, the value of his house is going to go down tremendously. It’s like the Coliseum, we’re going to lose something that we own.
Patch: What happens if the voters reject the bond?
Borrelli: If they reject [the bond] on Aug. 1 we’ll probably stay fine for a while until the Islanders leave in 2015. If they end up leaving and the Coliseum ends up closing and just sits there and becomes vacant land, I think we’re going to lose a big part of our business and we’ll have to reinvent ourselves in other ways. We’ve had loyal customers here for 56 years, but we’ll definitely have to reinvent ourselves to make up that difference, so we can afford the property taxes that we are paying here already.