As Route 347 construction continues to linger in the Hauppauge area, the has seen the work zone wreak havoc with its business, according to managers and die-hard customers.
James and Michael Goniaz, an uncle and nephew tandem who manage the diner that their family has owned since 1982, said the biggest problem is the construction has crushed their lunch rush.
“They took away most of our lunch business,” said James Goniaz, claiming the dense traffic is means travel time eats into the one-hour lunch breaks of area workers. It's so bad that Goniaz has cut his lunchtime wait staff from around eight before the construction to five these days.
The New York State Department of Transportation began work on the road more than a year ago to transform the North Shore artery into the Long Island's first greenway, a roadway conceived with pedestrians and the environment in mind. The area outside the diner is only part of phase one. When that segment is finished, the workers will move down the road.
Goniaz said people have trouble finding the entrance to the diner’s parking lot amidst the sea of orange cones lining the road construction. He said he put a sign up marking the entrance to help customers find their way, and delivers to businesses when he has enough staff. There is not much else he can do, he said.
“Oh, gee whiz,” said Christine Gallagher, a waitress at the diner for the past nine years. “It’s killing everybody – the business, the workers, our customers that enjoy coming here.”
Many of the diner's regular's have been chased away, she said, including a group of six Wednesday regulars, who recently told her they stopped coming because
the construction makes it too difficult to get there.
Frank a local regular to the diner, said he and his wife come to the diner four to five times a week from their home in Smithtown, three miles away. Under normal circumstances, he said, it is a 12-minute drive. But with the roadwork and resulting traffic, it can take up to a half hour, he said.
An elderly man occupying one of the purple chairs at the counter on afternoon, who asked not to be identified, said he comes to the diner from Hicksville at least five times a week. The former Smithtown resident said traffic does not stop him, but he said the construction is expensive and ridiculous.
“Whoever the architect was for this thing ought to be shot,” he says.
Goniaz said he was recently told the roadwork will not be completed until August, though he's optimistic things will turn around when it ends.
“I mean, everybody thinks it’s a waste of money,” he said of the construction. “But, then again, nobody knows what it’ll look like in the end.”