After overcoming electrical problems caused by Hurricane Sandy and reopening this summer, the story of Love Lane Market has come to a sad conclusion.
The boutique grocery store and eatery in Mattituck has shuttered for good, owner Michael Avella announced Thursday.
“I apologize to my customers, my employees and the community at large,” he said. “Although I did what I could, we were not able to recover from the losses sustained from Superstorm Sandy.
“Intellectually, I know that many others have faced even worse devastation in the aftermath of the storm; homes lost, lives and loved ones lost,” he continued. “But, personally, I will likely never recover from the emotional and financial loss this year-long nightmare has caused.”
Love Lane Market had closed its doors last November after an electrical malfunction during the storm caused the store’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to burn out, effectively spoiling all refrigerated merchandise, Mr. Avella told The Suffolk Times earlier this year. He had told The Suffolk Times he lost $100,000 worth of inventory after Sandy.
The business opened again in late June, this time with a full coffee bar.
Then last month, previous editions of The Suffolk Times and a pile of courtesy magazines began piling up among leaves at the market’s front entrance. The market appeared closed.
That was when Ann Johnson of Mattituck was found peering inside the darkened shop’s windows with two friends.
“It’s too bad,” she said. “It’s a nice space, too. And he [the owner] was such a nice guy. He put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into reopening. He was just here last weekend.”
When asked last month if the business was closed, Mr. Avella said a final decision hadn’t been made. He had still wanted to look into grant money through the state, he said.
But on Thursday, he said he had exhausted all his options.
“I spent months applying to FEMA, the SBA and state for assistance through their much publicized programs,” Mr. Avella said. “The application process started in November 2012 and became dozens of pages in length, including hundreds of pages of supporting documents.
“Over the months, I responded to endless requests for additional paperwork. At times it appeared that these agencies were looking for any excuse to deny my appeals for assistance. Ultimately, I was unable play their waiting game any longer.”
When asked what she would like to see come to the storefront in the heart of Mattituck’s historic business district, Ms. Johnson suggested someplace fun, someplace where her adult children could go to have fun — “instead of having to go to Dune Road.”
“A nice restaurant pub would be great, for nighttime,” she said.
With Michael White