When a fire ripped through a building in Long Beach last May housing the popular Sorrento’s restaurant and Abyss Tattoo parlor, Megan Casey, of Long Beach, did what she has always done in crises: She jumped in to lend a hand. She quickly organized a fundraiser to help rebuild the establishments, collecting about $50,000 for them.
“The whole pandemic was a bad time for restaurants and stores,” Casey, 38, said earlier this week. “Then this happened. I went door to door” to collect funds.
Casey is a well-known figure in Long Beach’s West End. She is a co-proprietor of Shine’s Bar in Long Beach with her husband, Brent Wilson. She also works full-time as a copywriter at the giant ad agency BBDO NY.
Casey and Ian Danby, chairman of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, have been honored by the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce for their participation in the local business community. Danby is the honoree for 2021 and Casey for 2020. The council was unable to host an awards presentation last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The awards ceremony was held this year in October.
Casey, a Rhode Islander with a rapid speaking style and an ad copy writer’s sense of humor, has been working at Shine’s – and in the Long Beach business community – since her husband bought the 109-year-old establishment in 2005. During the pandemic, she has been working her copywriting job remotely.
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Casey swung into action. The morning after the storm, she and her husband set up a soup kitchen and food pantry for the neighborhood. They remained open through Thanksgiving, grilling up and giving away what was saved in the kitchen, offering free beers and some sense of normalcy in a disorienting time.
“It was a way of getting people together,” Casey said. “We had the pool table set up with food. We were grilling chicken wings. It became a full-time soup kitchen.”
Her husband applauds her community work and outreach.
“She can walk into a room, and in minutes, she has people introducing themselves to one another as best friends,” Wilson said. The couple married in 2010.
When the LGBTQ organization came to Long Beach in the summer of 2019, Casey organized a series of “Drink Local Beer” tastings in honor of the group.
One of Casey’s most intense efforts came during the pandemic. She created online Local Business Bingo cards that spotlighted every restaurant and deli in Long Beach, encouraging people to shop local establishments in order to get “bingo” and win a free drink at Shine’s.
She also created scavenger hunts and family-friendly games to bring a little fun to stressed-out parents and children. Outside the bar, she kept a close eye on her neighbors, checking in on them weekly, shopping for them, shoveling sidewalks and driveways, and even fixing roofs.
“Our goal with Shine’s is not just making it succeed, but helping other businesses as well,” Casey said over coffee at — where else? — Shine’s.
Danby owns Cybernet LLC. He said he has dedicated his time to rebuilding the chamber and improving its reputation.
“I took about three to four years to change the attitudes about the chamber,” Danby said. “It had a bad reputation among businesses when I got involved. It was very political and only had about one event per year.”
Danby said he made numerous efforts to improve the chamber, including building its website, rewriting its bylaws and mission statement, and working to promote all businesses, not just retailers.
He said he is also working on a new Long Beach business advertising campaign and helped bring in funds for events. “Funds were down to zero at one point due to some bad contracts,” Danby said.
“We redid the contracts and ended up running the boardwalk fairs ourselves,” he said. “We have made much more money and brought the funds up from zero.”
The nomination was a surprise to Danby, who said even though he put in a great deal of time, he had not expected to be selected. Leah Rosensweig Tozer, a real estate agent and the chamber’s vice chairwoman, said Danby was an easy choice.
“Ian has been the steward of the chapter,” Tozer said. “All he’s about is helping our community.”
Tozer said Danby looks to do the right thing and does not seek recognition or praise. She said he is the “kind of human being that always wants to do good things.”
Tozer said Danby has been especially helpful during the Covid-19 crisis, physically helping people and businesses on his own time.
“He’s our leader in doing things that are good,” Tozer said. “When the nominations were going on, we all looked at each other and basically said ‘Ian’ at the same time.”