Gennaro and Hudes remained business partners for 20 years before Gennaro retired and Hudes became president of the store. Before he took over, Hudes said he learned a great deal from Gennaro and Paul Segerdahl, the former owner of the since-closed Bellmore Bootery.
Hudes explained that Segerdahl and Gennaro, who was a former president of the Bellmore Kiwanis Club and the Chamber of Commerce of the Bellmores, taught him that he had to be involved in the community in which he earned his living. So, Hudes began giving back by serving the Bellmores through several organizations.
Hudes was the Chamber of Commerce president in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1996 and 1997. During that time, he served as director of the Bellmore Family Street Festival for its first 15 years. And he was an active member of the Bellmore Lions Club, in addition to serving as the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce.
Through his work in the Bellmore and the greater Nassau County business communities, about 18 years ago, Hudes noticed that downtowns were suffering because strip malls had become popular across Long Island. Bellmore was no exception, and one Saturday afternoon nearly 20 years ago, Gennaro asked Hudes if he wanted to leave the original location on Bedford.
“I looked around and I said, ‘No,’” Hudes recalled. “We needed to take our lead from what people were doing in other areas, and that was to bring in an anchor. I told Mr. Gennaro that Bellmore was as solid as a rock, and there was no reason to leave. Rather than giving up and running, it was more important to stay and fight.”
Hudes then became director of the Bellmore Village Downtown Revitalization Project. Working with the chamber and other committee members, Hudes and his colleagues developed a plan that Bellmore and other surrounding communities used in the coming years to breathe new life into their business centers.
The pilot program was recognized on the state and national levels. Because of his work on the project, Hudes was asked to run for a seat on the Town of Hempstead Council, to which he was first elected to in 1999.