Fine-dining restaurants in the area say they are having to change their approach as the slow economy continues to keep diners from splurging.
That means lowering prices and offering plenty of specials to increase patronage.
Hasan “Spiro” Karachopan, owner of the and in Rocky Point, has had to work harder for every dollar he earns.
“I’m going to be honest with you, the weekends are alright,” Karachopan says. “People are very careful how they spend their dollar and really that’s all there is to it. The economy is not here like four years ago. We suffer like everybody else. Everybody does the same thing, so you have to do more specials and give things more. We’re just trying to survive, not even make money, just survive.”
At the Sea Basin that means introducing a special $12-$14 lunch menu and cutting back on the more expensive dishes.
Even the holidays, which are usually prime profiting days, are not immune. The online menu for Sea Basin still shows the specials they had for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Karachopan went on to say that he believes the current downturn will last for another year before turning around. He said once people start making money again, the customers will go back to their normal routines. He also noted that the lack of construction on Long Island is hurting the area.
Sammy Nelovic, the owner of , believes this holiday season was worse than last year’s. He estimates that business is down between 10 and 15 percent.
“It’s holding its own,” Nelovic said. “Nothing crazy, we’re certainly not breaking any records. It’s certainly dropped off.”
In response to the down numbers, Nelovic started a happy hour about a year ago. He said it has helped stem the tide, but he hasn’t seen the beginning of a turnaround yet.
Craig Scali, owner of in Sound Beach and a previous owner of Blond, doesn’t think the drop in fine dining is due to the down economy. Scali believes the bigger factor is a lack of customer interest.
“I would never open another fine dining restaurant, at least in the Miller Place area,” Scali said. “Never again. You just don’t have the call for it here, you don’t have the draw. From my experience, the majority of the people are drawn to Applebees and Ruby Tuesday’s, unfortunately.”
Karachopan disagrees with Scali’s assessment. “Look at Applebees and most of the chains,” Karachopan argues. “According to their chart they’re not doing too well either.”