FREEPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — As we push further on the road to reopening, many small businesses are starting to see better times ahead.

Some closed their doors for good while others survived, though just barely.

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The scenic showcase lost its luster last summer when few ventured out to shop or dine along Freeport‘s famed Nautical Mile.

“We’ll make it through this also, and we’ll come out stronger on the end,” said Ilona Jagnow, of Otto’s Sea Grill.

Her family has run Otto’s Sea Grill since 1929.


Captain Ben’s Fish Market has been around for three generations.

“Vaccination rate is really good and the infection rate is way down, and people are coming back,” said fishmonger Jerry Bracco, at Captain Ben’s Fish Market.

“I live in Rosedale. I come all the way out to Freeport to get my fish,” Luecretia Holden told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.

Holden was picking up catfish and whiting.

Bracco says ironically, the pandemic has a positive influence.

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“People are buying salmon to be healthy. They want to keep their blood thin. Tuna, seafood is good for their diet,” he said.

The chief economist for the Long Island Association says about 10,000 of Nassau and Suffolk’s 60,000 small downtown businesses have closed in the past year.

It’s been a double whammy in Freeport, which is still recovering from Superstorm Sandy roaring through.

“Most of the buildings were either burned to the ground or completely destroyed with Superstorm Sandy. Many of them have rebuilt now, so I’m hoping they can begin to capitalize on the visitors coming into the village of Freeport this summer,” Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy said.

Businesses are trying to lure customers with vaccinations.

“You show us you got a shot and we’ll give you a shot or buy you a drink at a table or you get ten percent off at any of our merchants,” said Ivan Sayles, of Rachel’s Waterside Grill.


Saturday, they are renewing the annual festival.

“It’s not wild and crazy, so it’s very nice. Bring your families down, you’ll enjoy,” said Ben Jackson, president of Freeport Chamber of Commerce.

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The health of downtowns is critically important for the local economy.

Jennifer McLogan