Editorial: Cream rises to the top

TIM KELLY PHOTO | North Fork Chamber of Commerce president Andy Binkowski with Rachel Levin Murphy (center) and Ellen Levin Wiederlight during Monday’s Snowflake Gala at Raphael Winery in Peconic.

What do a waterfront resort and a car dealership have in common? On the surface, not much. But there’s a deep connection between the Soundview Inn in Greenport and Mullen Motors in Southold, one that goes far beyond geography.

In their own ways, each is an economic anchor, the Soundview in the hospitality business and Mullen Motors in keeping North Forkers on the road.

Both grew from humble beginnings, both survived lean times and changing markets over many decades and both are still going strong.

What they really share, though, is the quality of the people at the helm.

At age 104, Jack Levin had a good reason to be enjoying Florida’s warmth Monday night rather than attending the North Fork Chamber of Commerce’s Snowflake Gala, during which his family and the Mullens were honored for their many contributions to the community. But he was ably represented by daughters Ellen and Rachel, who ably maintain Jack’s legacy by operating the iconic motel and restaurant. When Mr. Levin opened his Jack’s Shack beach burger and ice cream stand three-quarters of a century ago, we wonder if he harbored any dreams about what the Soundview would become.

And what about the Mullens, whose dealership began over 65 years ago as a Main Road garage? Could they have dreamed that one day they’d be doing so much more than repairing brakes and changing oil and would become a company renowned for its honesty and customer service?

Here’s the key point: Both businesses earned and maintained enviable reputations through the reputations of the people behind them. Without these families’ commitment to customers, employees and the community at large, the Soundview would be just another motel, Mullen Motors just another dealership.

The applause the Levin and Mullen families received during Monday’s gala was sustained and genuine and that’s not at all surprising. These two families are part of the backbone of this community and their continuing efforts help make Southold the very special place it is.

We can’t think of two more deserving honorees.

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Two generations of the Mullen family, grandfather Dick (center) flanked by sons Bill (left) and Rich with the North Fork Chamber of Commerce’s award.