Residents helping local restaurant in a time of crisis


“There is no distinction for members and non-members,” said Eileen Tyznar, president of the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce, about helping local businesses in need. Under Tyznar’s term as president, the Sayville Chamber has also mentored and supported the Bohemia/Oakdale area as there is no longer a chamber organization in place in that area.

As each day in the past week has brought on new restrictions in the name of public safety from the COVID-19 pan- demic, businesses have scrambled to comply and wondered how to survive. Bayport-Blue Point chamber president Carol Seitz-Cusack has been diligently researching government relief funding for disaster areas to help local businesses. While Suffolk County has not met the criteria for a disaster zone, Seitz-Cusack has taken to social media to enlist the help of others to change that and to possibly get some relief for panic-stricken businesses.

“Some places can’t even stay afloat a week,” said Tyznar, as she played disaster-relief triage with the onslaught of calls the chamber received following the initial bar and restaurant closure rule. “For two days I have not left my computer because I’ve been doing all I can to use the social media audience the chamber has built to let the public know our restaurants are still serving in the middle of this.”

Sayville Pizza, one of the first businesses to respond to the growing restrictions of the pandemic, offered curbside pickup and specialized delivery to avoid contact. A cheerful, but understanding, handwritten note graced the front door of the long-established mainstay reminding customers to “work together to contain and beat this outbreak of the coronavirus.”

But even offering delivery can be a tricky way of adapting to the current pandemic atmosphere. According to a senior agent at State Farm in Patchogue, should a company decide to take on delivering takeout orders and have employees use their own vehicle, they should call their insurance carrier and opt for “non-owned liability (ENOL) [which] insures an employer for employees’ operation of an automobile not owned by the employer or in the company name.”

This is so in the event of an accident, employers have coverage in protection of liability and access of the employees’ personal auto insurance. It is worth noting that the employee must also be sure that their insurance covers their new role as a delivery driver, as some insurance carriers do not cover vehicles used for that purpose. However, if a restaurant is planning on using their own company vehicle (i.e. a vehicle owned and insured by the company itself and not an employee’s personal vehicle) for deliveries, the agent said they must be sure to check with their insurance carrier if their company vehicle has insurance coverage for deliveries, as the rate might be significantly higher or not even available.

If Facebook is any indicator, the public has been quick to share their own take-out experiences and have urged others to patronize their local restaurants to help buoy them through this pandemic.


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