The owner and staff of Baldwin’s
elegant landmark the Coral House spent much of their time last week fielding calls about an alligator invasion.
The headline-grabbing discovery of two small gators in a Baldwin shopping center parking lot attracted some national and much local attention, and event planners, party hosts and brides from across New York state called to ensure that their gatherings would not be subject to frightening reptilian disruptions.
“It’s not funny, it’s scary,” the restaurant and catering house’s owner, Butch Yamali, said last week. “A lot of our clients come from Suffolk County, Queens, New York City, and they read about
Baldwin and alligators, and they know we’re right on a lake, so they’re worried. They’re asking ‘Are there alligators in the lake? Are there alligators near the catering hall?’”
Yamali said that he and his staff fielded more than 100 calls on the subject of alligators, and their message to each
client was the same. “I told everyone that the health, welfare and well-being of our clients comes first,” he said, “and that the alligators were discovered in a parking lot, not around here.”
Yamali said he has contacted Nassau County, the entity that oversees Milburn Pond, which the Coral House overlooks, and asked for an investigation. But, he said, the county had not yet responded to his request. Yamali was quick to point out, however, that Coral House staff members maintain the property on a daily basis, and have yet to encounter any alligators.
“I don’t need Baldwin becoming synonymous with alligators,” he said. “I’m a community member of this area and I want to make sure we don’t get a black eye. Some people have joked that this is a publicity stunt, that we planted the alligators. But why would I put alligators near my catering hall?”
Yamali added that while it’s extremely unlikely that any new alligators will emerge from the pond out front, he and his staff are walking the grounds and “keeping an eye out.”