Long Island businesses continue to struggle without sales, customers

The Engeman Theater in Northport says they won’t be opening until well into next year.

News 12 Staff

Jun 5, 2020, 10:27 AM

Updated 1,506 days ago


There are many businesses on Long Island beginning to reopen, and others that have put out plans for when their time soon comes.
The theater industry says there are many uncertainties surrounding their phase 4 timetable. The entertainment industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors, as they can't do curbside pick-up or open in a limited capacity, like some.
The John W. Engeman in Northport made the decision to push their reopening until March 2021, all year from when the pandemic first shut their doors.
Co-owner Kevin O'Neill said the guidance they've received so far for phase 4 would put reopening for them at a date in the fall and in a very limited capacity.
Of the capacity guidelines, O'Neill added, "We are hearing, so far, it's potentially 25%, max 50%. Which would be skipping every other row or every other seat. Economically that's just not going to function. The numbers just don't work. And then again, you have a limitation here, we only have 400 seats in this theater and if we can only put 100 people in this theater— we have more than that currently in our subscriber base."
A potential fall date was also concerning because that's when the flu season starts back up. A lot of their theater patrons are elderly, and they did not want to risk their health.
There are also the actors, and those who make the shows happen from behind the scenes.
"We do contract with the Broadway Actors Union. We haven't even gotten guidance from them on terms of when they will permit their actors to perform. There's dancing, kissing, singing. When is that all going to be permitted in a social distance environment?" he explained.
When the Engeman theater reopens in March 2021, the six shows scheduled for the current season will resume. Their 15th season will be their season of recovery.
The recent expansion of the Payroll Protection Program will help them to keep salaried employees paid through that time. There are some that are currently working from home to answer box office questions. Others will help over the next few months to prepare the theater for patrons once again.

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