Last year, local professionals said business was good. But 2014 was even better.
Across the board, key figures in auto sales, banking, hospitality and retail 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.
See below to find out what other businesspeople in the region had to say about the past 12 months.
Rich Mullen, co-owner, Mullen Motors, Southold
A steadily improving economy combined with continuously innovative technology to equal more customers in 2014, said Mr. Mullen, who co-owns Mullen Motors with his brother, Bill.
“I think in the last couple of years it’s slowly been getting better and better,” said Mr. Mullen, whose dealership was founded by his grandfather in 1927 and sells new and used Chrysler, Ram, Dodge and Jeep vehicles.
“Our product keeps getting better and I think people are just out buying cars now. For quite a few years, after the market crash, everybody was very quiet and didn’t do the spending they do now.”
Patricia Horan, senior vice president and regional manager, Bridgehampton National Bank, 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.”
Kelley Blanchard, manager, Michelangelo’s Pizza, Mattituck
As the North Fork continues to grow, so does the number of customers lining up at Michelangelo’s Pizza for a regular or specialty slice.
“The traffic is endless,” Ms. Blanchard said. “It’s just more, more and more as the town gets bigger and more people keep coming from the city.”
Business has been so good this year at the Mattituck Plaza eatery, Ms. Blanchard said, that the street-facing pizzeria section will soon undergo a top-to-bottom renovation.
“We’re going to completely rip out everything from the floor to the ceiling,” she said. “Everything will be brand-new: our countertops, showcase, floors and walls.”
Val Cichanowicz, manager, Chick’s Southold Agway, Southold
This year, there was a surge in the number of customers purchasing organic fertilizer and pesticides and vegetable seeds, Ms. Cichanowicz said.
“It seems like more and more people are growing their own vegetables,” she said. “People are really paying attention to going organic.”
Another area Chick’s Southold Agway experienced growth in was in what Ms. Cichanowicz calls “backyard poultry.”
“It’s huge,” she said. “We sell chicks in the spring. People are raising three to six chickens in their backyard. And they buy them treats … They treat their chickens like they’re cats or dogs,” she said with a laugh.
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.”