Tulip Caterers will stick around for the foreseeable future after the town Board of Appeals unanimously denied the necessary variances to build a 7-Eleven at the site.
The board’s April decision followed a public hearing in which James E. Toner, an attorney representing Tulip Caterers, argued that it should not grant 7-Eleven a variance to more than double the square footage of the property at the intersection of Tulip Avenue and New Hyde Park Road from 13,000 to 2,963 square feet. They were also seeking a special exception to renovate the area and parking variances.
During the hearing, Toner also challenged the developer’s traffic studies, as they were not of 7-Eleven traffic, and Vinny Giordano, the owner of Tulip, showed the board photographs of the traffic situation at 10 a.m. at the 7-Eleven on Hempstead Turnpike, which Toner said, showed cars backed up into the road.
Meanwhile, the attorneys for 7-Eleven claimed that the site was previously a 7-Eleven in the 1960s and ’70s, before Giordano and his parents took it over. Gregory Alvarez, an attorney for 7-Eleven, explained that because of the traffic in the area, and because the store had not undergone any major changes since the ’60s, 7-Eleven officials believed it would be an ideal business venture.
“It was a fair public hearing,” Giordano said, “and thank God we prevailed.”
Giordano also thanked all of the Franklin Square residents who showed up to Town Hall on April 10 to speak against the 7-Eleven proposal.
Several questioned why another 7-Eleven is necessary when there are already two less than a mile away, and others discussed their fear of crime and strangers driving through residential areas at late hours of the night due to the 24/7 convenience store.
“We get reports about all kinds of issues at the 7-Eleven parking lots in West Hempstead, Franklin Square and New Hyde Park,” said Carl Gerrato, of the local civilian patrol. “We don’t want more of that here.”
Bill Youngfert, another of the Franklin Square Chamber of Commerce’s vice presidents, also expressed his concerns about traffic in the area. He said cars were at a standstill on the southbound side of New Hyde Park Road, where two lanes turn into one before the intersection with Tulip Avenue, and was concerned the 7-Eleven would attract even more traffic and block the roads with its delivery trucks.
In response, Andrew Villari, a project manager for Stonefield Engineering and Design and a representative for 7-Eleven, said that the store would cause a less than 3 percent increase in traffic volume on the roads, and Zachary Chaplin, a civil engineer, added that large delivery trucks would not come to the proposed store, as they would not fit in the parking lot. Rather, he said, smaller trucks would make deliveries three to four times a day, each staying five to 10 minutes.
7-Eleven first reached out to the property owners, GLC Southland LLC, in the fall of 2016, around the same time Randy Briskin, vice president of leasing for GLC Southland, was unable to negotiate a lease agreement with Giordano. As a result, Briskin ended his lease with Giordano and Tulip Caterers paid reduced rent for more than two years, while Briskin offered to help Giordano find a new location in the area. To avoid leaving the building empty, GLC Southland agreed to lease it to 7-Eleven, which was still interested in the property.
“There’s this misconception that there’s this big, bad landlord,” Briskin said. “But we didn’t want to hurt [Giordano]. He’s a long-standing tenant, which is why we gave him rent credit and time to find a new location.”
Giordano started working at the delicatessen more than 30 years ago, delivering cups of coffee, sandwiches and chicken cutlets to his neighbors. Since then, he has delivered food to Little League baseball games, funeral homes and community events. “It’s a real mom-and-pop shop,” Toner said. “The whole Giordano family works there.”
Following the board’s decision, he also said, “We almost lost the best pastrami sandwich on Long Island, but now it looks like they are here to stay.”