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Business Beat: Downtown Port Open for Business; Merchants Pitch In to Help Out

Also: Gas station owners and customers react to gas rationing system.

"Superstorm" Sandy left much devastation in its wake across Long Island; businesses as well as residents have been affected. But many places in Port Jefferson are open for business; a handful of businesses in the Three Village area are getting involved in relief efforts; some that didn't lose power saw a boom in business; and the governor's gas rationing mandate has had an immediate effect. Here are some of the highlights from across the region:

Steve Sands, owner of Pasta Pasta, an Italian eatery on East Main Street in Port Jefferson, says that despite the reports about power outages in the village, for the most part the downtown business area is up and running. Yet reports to the contrary are hurting business. "All restaurants and stores are open," he said. "The news keeps saying that Port Jefferson has been waiting for power and still may take a while so it's keeping people from coming to town." The library is open as well as the Village Center and both are offering people a place to come in, warm up, connect to WiFi and recharge electronic devices. Residents have been turning these places into makeshift living rooms during the outages. Resident and Patch blogger Robert Makofsky wrote in a recent post that the Village Center "has been a literal life saver for those of us without heat and electric. It is warm here and comfortable."

Chase Bank Manager Vows Main Street Branch Will Return

Of the many businesses on Main Street still cleaning up from the storm, Chase Bank is one of them, but branch manager Meredith Festa says they will be coming back soon. “The Chase branch in the village has extensive flood damage,” Festa told Patch by email. "They are repairing everything, and will be reopened as soon as possible." In the meantime, the staff from the downtown branch has been holed up in the Chase branch across from John T. Mather Hospital at 60 North Country Road and another one in Setauket untill their home branch is back up and running.

Businesses Pitch in to Help Out in Sandy's Wake

Jewelry designer Mary-Jo Peritore of East Setauket has a line of disaster relief items she sells for causes including tsunami relief for Japan in 2011, and now Hurricane Sandy, with proceeds going to American Red Cross. Also, Sweetleaf Boutique – which recently held a fundraiser event for breast cancer awareness and research – is offering a 25-percent-off coupon to customers who bring in a nonperishable food item or clothing item to donate. Its next-door neighbor the Setauket Frame Shop is carrying the same promotion-for-donation. At Samantha Drew Interiors in East Setauket, the store will be donating a portion of its sales to Red Cross for about a month. "We know first hand what it feels like to lose nearly everything," the store's employees wrote in a message on Patch on Monday. "After a fire devastated our store just over a year ago, we were able to rebuild and come back stronger than before thanks to friends, family, and our community."

Locals Seeing Shorter Lines on First Morning of Odd-Even Gas Rationing

Lines for gas appeared noticeably shorter in Smithtown Friday morning as the first day of temporary mandatory gas rationing went into effect. A drive along 25A from St. James into Kings Park showed lines with no more than 6-8 cars and wait times at 10 minutes or less. Customers were happy with the change, but station owners said it was a little too late. The temporary policy requires gas stations in both counties to sell fuel only to drivers with vehicles bearing license plate numbers that correlate in odd/even terms with the day of the month. “We kind of don’t need it,” said Steve Borella, manager at North Country Gas in St. James. Yesterday, Borella said, waits at his station were about 15 minutes, Friday it was 10 minutes.

Widespread Outages Bring a Crowd to Crazy Beans in Miller Place

in the Miller Place-Rocky Point area last week. Fortunately, the newly opened Crazy Beans remained up and running as community members flocked to recharge. Owner Callie Brennan came to check on her store in the morning, and when she saw everything was fine she opened. People wasted no time filling her coffee shop and bar to the point where she had to send her cook to Stop and Shop for more supplies by the afternoon.

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