Professionals said business was good in 2013, but 2014 was even better.
Across the board, key figures in banking, auto sales, hospitality and big and small retail outlets reported strong sales and increased growth. Much of this, said Steven Shauger, general manager of Hyatt Place East End in Riverhead, can be attributed to a developing public perception of the North Fork as a year-round destination.
“Travelers are beginning to realize that even in the off-season the East End of Long Island has so much to offer,” he said.
Read on to find out what other businesspeople in the region had to say about the past 12 months.
William VanSchaick, manager, Talmage Farm Agway, Riverhead
Growing consumer interest in Mr. VanSchaick calls the “backyard country living movement” — which encompasses everything from beekeeping and growing your own food to home brewing — was the Osborn Avenue store’s largest source of growth in 2014.
“Our customers appreciate that our staff and management have decades of experience helping people successfully “feed and grow” things,” Mr. VanSchaick said. “Our lawn and garden, wild bird and pet business has remained strong, and our Husqvarna power equipment sales and service and U-Haul areas have seen constant growth as well.”
Patricia Horan, senior vice president and regional manager, Bridgehampton National Bank, Wading River, Mattituck and Southold
It’s been a big year for Bridgehampton National Bank. In May, the company reported record core net income and core earnings per share of $4 million and 35 cents, respectively — a 34 percent increase from 2013. And in July, BNB’s Mattituck branch moved to a new Main Road location.
“The vibrancy of local business on the North Fork has fueled the continued success of Bridgehampton National Bank,” said Ms. Horan. “We have seen an increase in both loans and deposits, which is an indication that business is healthy and recovering.”
Ted Lucki, owner, Riverhead Toyota, Riverhead
In short, Mr. Lucki said, “The car business is fantastic.”
This, he believes, is because “most people buy cars every four or five years.
And what happened is they postponed that decision when things were rough about two years ago and now they have to buy a new car.”
Mr. Lucki added that most customers are opting to purchase new rather than used cars because of lower interest rates.
“If you get five years at zero percent, that’s a big incentive to go into debt,” he said with a laugh.
Lenny Lubrano, owner, Lenny’s Pizza and Italian Cuisine, Jamesport
With the exception of rising food prices — “Expenses were through the roof” — 2014 “was better than previous years,” said Mr. Lubrano, who has owned his popular Main Road pizzeria and restaurant for more than three decades.
Mr. Lubrano attributes this year’s success to a partial restaurant renovation, the wood-fired pizza oven he added this past winter and a higher number of visitors to the North Fork in general.
“Absolutely this year there was more traffic than previous years,” he said.
Steven Shauger, general manager, Hyatt Place East End & Resort, Riverhead
Summer is still the region’s biggest season, but hotel guests are now traveling to the North Fork all year long — and that’s great for business, said Mr. Shauger, who has been operating the waterfront downtown hotel since it opened in 2012.
“When comparing 2014 to the previous year, we experienced significant growth in both hotel room nights sold and average rate,” he said. “This progression is attributed to the continuous increase in international travel and the expansion of our shoulder seasons.”