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Nicole Formisano

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3 New Restaurants on Long Island

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Andy's Pizzeria & Restaurant.

UNCLE DON’S KITCHEN

For those of you looking for a kick of heat this summer, head over to Uncle Don’s Kitchen.

This restaurant, specializing in Jamaican cuisine, is family owned and operated. What first started as a home-based catering business has expanded to a storefront due to its massive popularity. Uncle Don’s Kitchen offers lunch portions, as well as small, medium, and large dinner portions. Some favorite dishes include jerk chicken ($9.00), stew pork ($8.00), curry chicken ($8.00), and oxtail ($16.00). So if you’ve been craving a vacation, head over to Uncle Don’s for a taste of the Caribbean.

Uncle Don’s Kitchen is available for dine-in or takeout from Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., or Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

1 B West Village Green, Hicksville, 516-226-3808, uncledonskitchen.com 

ANDY’S PIZZERIA & RESTAURANT

If there’s anything Long Islanders love, it’s good pizza — and everyone in Port Washington knows no one does pizza like Andy’s.

Originally founded in 1959, this family-owned restaurant served Port Washington for nearly 40 years before closing in 1997 when the owners retired. Now, 23 years later, their son is bringing back the family business alongside his wife and their two daughters. Popular dishes include their garlic bread ($5.00) meatball hero ($8.75), baked ziti ($15.95), and, of course, their cheese pizza ($16.00). Any Italian food lovers need to check this place out.

Andy’s Pizzeria is open for dine-in or takeout every day from 4 to 10 p.m.

195 Manorhaven Blvd., Port Washington, 516-883-0034, www.andyspizzapw.com 

COAST GRILL & BAR

Whether you’re looking for a nice family dinner or a brunch with friends, this restaurant is perfect for any occasion.

Founded by a friend group of self-described foodies, Coast Grill & Bar specializes in seafood and is located right next to a scenic lake. The restaurant offers a wide variety of dishes, including lobster mac & cheese ($20.00), grilled shrimp tacos ($26.00), cast iron filet mignon ($42.00), and grilled Atlantic salmon ($28.00). The restaurant also does BBQ Mondays every week, and Weekend Brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with bottomless mimosas. Don’t miss happy hour, which is every weekday from 3 to 7 p.m.

Coast Grill & Bar is available for dine-in or takeout Monday through Thursday from 2 to 10 p.m., Friday from 2 to 11 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m.

1109 Noyak Rd., Southampton, 631-377-3282, www.coastgrillandbar.com

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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Läderach Brings Swiss Chocolate to Long Island’s 3 Simon Malls

swiss chocolate
FrischSchoggi. (Photo courtesy Läderach)

Chocolate lovers, read on for some delicious news.

Läderach, Switzerland’s largest chocolate retailer, just opened three locations on Long Island: Walt Whitman Shops, Smith Haven Mall, and Roosevelt Field Mall. This is part of an agreement to open 15 new shops in Simon properties, as well as 17 other locations. Adding to existing locations in Manhattan and Washington D.C., Läderach will have more than 35 storefronts nationwide by this fall.

Photo courtesy Läderach

The Roosevelt Field Mall location opened on Aug. 11 and was filled with customers within a matter of hours — and for good reason. The brand new store was filled to the brim with chocolates of all different kinds, in many types of flavors and forms: truffles, pralines, confectionery specialties, popcorn, and more. The large variety of chocolates made the store feel almost Wonka-esque (though perhaps with less of a chance of being escorted away by elves.) 

Though this could easily overwhelm the senses, it was still clear to see the biggest draw of all — the FrischSchoggi. The word is Swiss-German slang meaning “fresh chocolate,” and it comes in large sheets of thick, fresh bark, ready for you to snap off and eat. Friends, couples, children, and grandparents alike gathered excitedly around the store window, amazed. Very few were able to resist coming in for a taste, and the friendly staff was more than happy to give customers tours of all their chocolate creations.

Photo by Nicole Formisano.

At the front counter, sheets of detailed truffles and pralines feature combinations of dark, milk, and white chocolate, as well as fillings of hazelnut, caramel, honey, and more. Many of these small, melt-in-your-mouth creations are finished with hand touches such as flakes of edible gold, honeycomb patterns, and chocolate stamps.

Läderach was first founded in 1962 by Rudolf Läderach, who is credited with revolutionizing the chocolate industry through his newfound method of truffle creation. The company continues to be family-owned and operated, with Läderach’s sons and grandsons continuing his legacy of innovation. Elias Läderach, head of innovation and production, is the current World Chocolate Master after competing against the world’s best chocolatiers in the highly competitive Cacao Barry World Chocolate Masters. His winning creation is available in Läderach stores.

The chocolate retailer owes its success not only to the innovation of its team, but also to the levels at which they are able to control the method of chocolate production. While some companies are only involved with the actual making of the chocolate, Läderach follows its creation from the bean to the bar.

Photo by Nicole Formisano.
Photo courtesy Läderach.

Läderach products are exclusively sold in their own stores and online, and international stores receive weekly shipments in order to guarantee the chocolate’s freshness. Their ingredients are locally sourced from Swiss farmers, except for the cacao beans, which are not native to Switzerland. Instead, Läderach purchases these directly from cacao farmers and plants 4,000 cacao trees each year to offset their environmental impact and ensure sustainability. 

So whether you have a chocolate craving or just want to take a look at some gorgeous edible creations, head over to Läderach!

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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Family Event to Raise Funds for “A Playground for Roya” on Aug. 29

playground for roya
A sample illustration of the new playground. The final equipment will be chosen by the Town of North Hempstead after a review process.

Positivity, community-building, random acts of kindness: These are the legacy of community member Roya Doovidnia, who lost her battle to cancer in 2001. They are also the foundations of the “A Playground for Roya” fundraiser, a mission to build a playground in her memory.

Doovidnia died of a rare form of cancer known as Ewing’s Sarcoma at 18 years old. It was a significant loss for her loved ones, but not significant enough to overshadow the massive positive impact of her life. She is remembered by her friends and family as a smiling, thoughtful girl whose gratitude and positivity were overflowing. 

Twenty years later, Doovidnia’s sister, Rozalin, is honoring her memory with a fundraiser to build a state-of-the-art playground at Whitney Pond Park in Manhasset. The playground is the perfect way to continue the positive impact of Doovidnia, who had planned on becoming an elementary school teacher, Rozalin says. To date, the GoFundMe has raised more than $20,000 of its $50,000 goal. 

The fundraiser’s goal is to provide a community playground “where children of all ages are excited to go,” Rozalin writes on the GoFundMe page. “The kind of playground that makes adults wish they were kids again or better yet, get them in on the action, playing along with their children. One that would make Roya proud and worthy of bearing her name.”

Some ideas for the new playground include a zip line, a large multi-activity play center, a Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course, a swing set with traditional and specialty swings, and more. Town of North Hempstead will choose the final installations after a visioning and design process.

Site of the new playground at Whitney Pond Park.

In addition to the GoFundMe, there will also be an end-of-summer fundraising bash at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29 at Whitney Pond Park. The fundraising event (emphasis on fun) will include entertainment from puppeteer and comedian Harrison Bryan, music from DJ Wyze, and other kid-friendly surprises. This event has a recommended donation of $25 per family to help the fundraiser reach its goal.

If you’re like Roya and are passionate about creating a fun, positive environment for both kids and the community at large, come on down with the family for the fundraising event. To learn more, visit the GoFundMe.

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Hempstead Village, School District Plan to Work Together in New School Year

hempstead
The Hempstead School District will collaborate with Hempstead Village on new programs aimed at student success.

The new Hempstead Union Free School District Board of Education announced its “blueprint for the future of education” after Hempstead Village Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr. swore the board members in on Monday.

Community leaders gathered at Hempstead Village Hall to hear Board President Olga Brown-Young, Vice President Victor Pratt, Trustee Patricia McNeill, and Superintendent Regina Armstrong reveal their plan to integrate the leadership of the Hempstead Union Free School District with that of the local government for the Village of Hempstead.

“Usually there’s a separation of village and school district, but that hasn’t worked for us for the past 20 years,” said New York State Assemblywoman Taylor Darling (D-Hempstead).

Hempstead Village Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr. addresses the school community. (Photo by Nicole Formisano)

“I understand how important it is for our school district and our village to work together,” Hobbs said. “For so long, we have said that they’re two different entities. But, if we have a successful school district, we have a successful village.”

The school district has been named “Most Improved in the State” by the State Education Department after the 2020 high school graduation rate rose from one of the lowest in the nation to a recent high of 81 percent. 

“We’re coming up with programs where we can change the narrative in the Village of Hempstead — where it’s no longer from the pipeline to the jailhouse,” Hobbs said. “But we want to come up with programs that are gonna have the opportunity for our young people to be professionals, be productive in our community, and have [the] opportunity to give back to the Village of Hempstead. Hempstead has too many success stories for us to continue to allow the negative narrative to make more noise.”

Hempstead Village Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr. swears in the Hempstead Board of Education’s new members. (Photo by Nicole Formisano)

Superintendent Armstrong said it is all about the students.

“We have work to do, because there are some students that we are leaving behind,” she said. “And it’s our goal to ensure that no student is left behind. So as we move forward into this school year, we’re going to be focused on more programs that are designed to ensure those students have those pathways that they need for graduation … making certain that we have the resources in the classrooms to close that learning gap.”

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RISE Life Services Launches Helpline For Individuals in Distress

helpline
RISE Life Services has a new helpline. (Getty Images)

It’s more than 40 years of providing crucial aid to individuals in distress, RISE Life Services is expanding its services to include a helpline for those facing struggles.

In every community, there are individuals facing serious challenges — disabilities, mental health struggles, homelessness, addiction. But Riverhead-based RISE is dedicated to making sure struggling individuals receive the support they need in order to reach their full potential. The program has now launched a helpline with the sole purpose of making sure anyone in need of help is receiving the personalized support they require.

“What the helpline does is, it gives everyone a specific number to call into,” says Admission and Intake Director Darryl Johnson. “Before, they’d just call RISE, and we have so many different departments and people working for us, sometimes it’s hard to connect people to the correct resource. So the helpline connects you to the right resources and team members so that we’re facilitating that conversation with you from Day One, as soon as you call.”

When RISE first started out in 1980, the organization was dedicated to providing support to those with developmental disabilities, both mental and physical. Since then, it has grown to aid anyone who is in need of support.

“Our motto is that we’re here to help all people of all abilities,” Johnson says. “Even though we focus on individuals with mental illness or developmental disabilities, there are a lot of people that have other challenges.”

“Sometimes it’s just, ‘I lost my job, I lost my housing. What else is out there for me?’ So we help people of all abilities, not just those who were diagnosed with a disability.”

RISE’s services include residential services, crisis intervention, recreation therapy, psychological evaluations, and much more. If an individual is in need of a service that RISE doesn’t offer, it will use partnerships with numerous hospitals, clinics, and businesses in order to put that individual in contact with whoever can provide the service the individual requires.

“Knowledge is key. A lot of times people just don’t know where to obtain resources and support from. I think we’re located in a high-traffic area for people who need support and services … So we realized, you know, we need to have additional services or support for those individuals — kind of an outreach program in the community, to really provide people with information and services that can continue to assist them.”

If you or a loved one is in need of information or support, you can use the helpline 855-RISE-LIFE or visit the website at riselifeservices.org

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The State of Long Island Music Venues Reopening

music venues
Courtesy Jones Beach Facebook

Concert fanatics, listen up! Live music is coming back to Long Island.

We all sacrificed a lot during the pandemic. We stayed home for a full year, showing how much we truly respect each other’s safety and wellbeing (at least when we’re not driving on the Southern State). And during that year, we missed out on so much of what makes Long Island what it is — the beach days, the boardwalk jogs, the dining out, the nightlife. But thanks to healthcare workers, local vaccination efforts, and our mindful citizens, we’re finally ready to make up for lost time.

As Long Island continues to get back on its feet, local venues are in various stages of opening up. Some are still closed, others are providing socially distanced or vaccinated-only sections, and others are fully reopened. Keep reading to find out the status of your favorite venue!

AMITYVILLE MUSIC HALL

This venue is known for its cozy atmosphere and its dedication to live music. It is currently featuring small local bands as it prepares to be fully reopened in the fall. 198 Broadway, Amityville. amityvillemusichall.org

STEPHEN TALKHOUSE

Part music venue and part bar, this place has been an Amagansett staple since 1987, and is known for bringing big names out east— and it’s fully reopened! 161 Main St., Amagansett. stephentalkhouse.com 

LONG ISLAND COMMUNITY HOSPITAL AMPHITHEATER

This huge venue features artists of all genres, from ’80s rock to modern boy bands. A 20-acre outdoor facility, it offers plenty of room if you choose to social distance. 1 Ski Run Lane, Farmingville. licommunityhospitalamp.com

TILLES CENTER

Part of LIU Post, this theater has featured acts from the New York Philharmonic to Bruce Springsteen. It has also taken certain measures to ensure all guests are comfortable— its summer concert series is fully outdoors, and there is a vaccinated section for those who so choose. Masks are required to and from seats, but not while seated. 720 Northern Blvd., Brookville. tillescenter.org 

MY FATHER’S PLACE

Though modest in size, this venue is known for featuring some huge acts. Musicians like Billy Joel, Madonna, and Aerosmith all performed here in the  ’70s and  ’80s. Talk about a trend-setter! This famous venue plans to reopen in late September or October. 1221 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn. myfathersplace.com 

NORTHWELL HEALTH AT JONES BEACH THEATER

Nearly 70 years old, this outdoor theater is an entertainment pillar of the South Shore, and concerts have returned! 1000 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh. jonesbeach.com

THE PARAMOUNT

This club has had a major impact on the Long Island music scene during less than 10 years of being in business. From Ed Sheeran to Steely Dan to Pitbull, this club has seen them all and it is now open once more. 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com

MULCAHY’S PUB AND CONCERT HALL

This Irish bar and concert hall has been bringing music to the community for more than 50 years, and it’s not about to stop now! Mulcahy’s is fully reopened. 3232 Railroad Ave., Wantagh. muls.com 

LANDMARK ON MAIN STREET

This Landmark’s philosophy is to enhance the spirit of its community — and by featuring live music and good times, it does exactly that. All concerts are currently taking place outdoors or are socially distanced, with the venue planning to reopen fully this September. 232 Main St., Port Washington. landmarkonmainstreet.org 

WESTHAMPTON BEACH PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

This not-for-profit space was transformed from a shuttered movie theater to a space for the performing arts, and now features everything from concerts to comedy. It is fully reopened. 76 Main St., Westhampton Beach. whbpac.org 

THE JAZZ LOFT

At this jazz mecca, it’s about more than live music — it’s about keeping the spirit of jazz alive. It’s a music hall, a museum, and an education center all wrapped up in one, and it is now open again! 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook. thejazzloft.org

STEREO GARDEN

Good food, great drinks, and even better music that’s returned to the venue. What more could you ask? Events are taking place again, so snag tickets and head on over. 9 Railroad Ave., Patchogue. stereogardenli.com

THE SUFFOLK THEATER

This venue has been a home for music and film for nearly 90 years — but it doesn’t look a day over 20! It will reopen on Aug. 27 with a performance by the Lord of 52nd Street. 118 Main St., Riverhead. suffolktheater.com

BOULTON CENTER

This YMCA center is home not only to live music, but to cultural programs meant to bring music and education to the community. This venue is not yet reopened. 37 West Main St., Bay Shore. boultoncenter.org 

THE SPACE AT WESTBURY

Concerts, comedy, and everything in between have played here. There is a show scheduled for later this month. 250 Post Ave., Westbury. thespaceatwestbury.com

89 NORTH

Here you’ll find the intimacy of a hometown bar combined with the resources of a giant concert hall. The venue has many shows lined up each weekend this month. 89 N. Ocean Ave., Patchogue. 89northmusic.com

PATCHOGUE THEATRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

The largest theater in Suffolk County, a beloved cultural center for 90 years, is fully reopened. 71 East Main St., Patchogue. patchoguetheatre.org 

TREME

This venue is known not only for its dance floor and terrific musicians, but delicious food and drink and beautiful outdoor seating area. This venue is closed until further notice. 553 Main St., Islip. tremeislip.com

For more entertainment coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/entertainment

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Stony Brook Community Rallies Behind Local Restaurant Pentimento

pentimento
Courtesy Save Pentimento Restaurant Stony Brook on Facebook.

Stony Brook residents are rallying to save Pentimento, a restaurant that locals say is a beloved staple of Stony Brook Village for nearly three decades and is at risk of shutting down.

Patricia Kirchner, of Stony Brook, organized a petition and a Facebook group called “Save Pentimento Restaurant” in hopes of keeping the restaurant afloat. In less than one week, the petition has garnered more than 1,800 signatures, and a GoFundMe online fundraiser created to aid the restaurant has raised $3,400. 

Pentimento is at the heart of our community. It has been the place we call home, the place we celebrate our special moments, and that place to fill our bellies and our hearts,” says the GoFundMe, organized by community member Chelsea Gomez. 

Many donors expressed similar sentiments, sharing fond memories of the restaurant.

“I love this restaurant,” one donor wrote on the GoFundMe. “We had our wedding here and many wonderful meals with family and friends. Save Pentimento.”

The outpouring of support was not only directed at the restaurant itself but the people who run it as well. Partners Lisa Cusumano and Dennis Young, manager and chef, respectively, have become invaluable to the community over the years, customers say.

“Lisa’s such an incredible human being,” Kirchner says. “She’s the most charitable, loving woman I’ve ever met. The way that she and Dennis make you feel like family, you want to be there and support them.”

Pentimento is in danger of closing its doors after being denied a lease renewal by the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO). Due to financial challenges in the pandemic, the owners are struggling to gather the resources required for relocation. In response, the WMHO is facing a significant amount of online backlash. 

However, the WMHO is not wavering. A statement released by Gloria Rocchio, president of WMHO and principal officer of Eagle Realty Holdings Inc., asserted that there was a breach of contract and that “the tenant asked for a much longer lease extension than is indicated in the present option to renew.”

The explanation has done little to sway the minds of disappointed Stonybrook residents.

“We have all convened in this one restaurant for the past 27 years, and I think it’s because of what Pentimento is,” Kirchner says. “We all feel such a connection to them — I think everyone in the community’s child has worked there at some point. Lisa has employed everyone, it’s amazing.”

“Losing Pentimento would be a tragedy for this community,” says the GoFundMe. “They employ dozens of people and support local businesses including farms, bakeries, fish markets, butchers, and more.”

Despite the unwavering stance of the WMHO, the creators of the Facebook page are continuing to organize to aid Pentimento, including launching a phone call campaign, a letter-writing campaign, and a physical protest in front of WMHO and Eagle Realty, as well as spreading the petition and fundraiser.

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3 New Restaurants To Try on Long Island

new restaurants
Hawaiian poke bowl from Tiki Poke.

3 New Restaurants To Try on Long Island

TIKI POKE

If you’re looking for something fun, fresh, and delicious, check out Tiki Poke.

This trendy, cute new restaurant features healthy Hawaiian cuisine with an emphasis on poke bowls, which are rice bowls with a Pacific Islander twist— so if you’re a fan of chipotle, come give this a try. Its popular dishes include the aloha bowl, the dragon bowl, and the sweet chili tofu bowl (each $13.95). Tiki Poke also serves the oh-so-popular bubble tea, whether it’s milk tea ($5.25) or fresh fruit tea ($5.75). Head over on Wednesday for their buy-one-get-one deal.

Tiki Poke is available for dine-in or curbside pickup every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

1040 S. Broadway #12, Hicksville, 516-595-7878, tikipokeus.com 

LA TAQUERIA

If you’re chasing that perfect birria taco, La Taqueria is the place to be.

Fans of authentic Mexican cuisine went crazy for this restaurant’s original location in Hicksville. Luckily for us, the owners have decided to expand to a new location in Syosset as well. The more burritos, the better. This restaurant’s menu is full of hits, such as its shrimp quesadilla ($10.99), carne asada burrito ($10.36), and nachos al pastor ($8.95). The menu also features fries, salads, and kids meals, making it the perfect location for a family night out.

La Taqueria in Syosset is available for dine-in or curbside pickup every day from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

57 Berry Hill Rd., Syosset, 516-588-9500, lataqueriany.com 

GREEK COVE

Fans of souvlaki and sunsets, listen up— Greek Cove is coming to the South Shore.

A community staple for residents of Merrick and East Norwich, this Greek restaurant has recently expanded to a Long Beach location. Using fresh ingredients from local markets, Greek Cove serves delicious and authentic Greek dishes. Popular menu items include gyro ($10.45), falafel platter ($16.95), and halloumi pita sandwich ($12.95). Don’t forget your side of tzatziki sauce. 

Greek Cove in Long Beach is available for pickup or dine-in Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

655 E Park Ave., Long Beach, 516-431-0000, greekcove.com 

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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BakedwithGrace Goes From Online Cookie Pie Sales to Babylon Storefront

bakedwithgrace
Courtesy BakedwithGrace via Facebook.

Do you prefer ooey-gooey cookies, or a warm slice of pie? Well, all you sweet-tooths out there no longer have to choose, thanks to the cookie-pie business taking Long Island by storm: BakedwithGrace.

Some of us spent quarantine learning a new hobby, while others spent it in one long existential crisis. But that simply wasn’t enough for then-20-year-old Grace Reilly, who was looking for something a little sweeter.

“I’m the type of person that just always needs to be doing something. I got bored of
Netflix!” Reilly, 21, says.

Courtesy BakedwithGrace via Facebook.

As a college student, Reilly makes most of her money babysitting — not the most in-demand profession during the months most people were staying home. So she started brainstorming for alternatives.

“I always made cookies with the boys I babysit … and they would ask for different fillings,” Reilly says. “They would ask for mint oreos, another week marshmallows. All different stuff we would put in it. And chocolate chip cookies — warm, gooey — is my favorite dessert. So that’s kind of how I got the idea.”

Thus, BakedwithGrace was born. It was a modest endeavor at first — until the Internet got involved. 

In August 2020, Dave Portnoy, best known as the founder of Barstool Sports, a pop culture and sports blog that has an unrivaled grip on college-aged Internet audiences, featured BakedwithGrace in his well-known “Barstool Review” series in which he eats and judges food from various restaurants. After that, there was no turning back — these cookie-pies were in demand

Despite a booming business that would suggest a natural chef, Reilly hadn’t had much prior experience with baking. She mostly relied on store-bought cookie dough, but always with a twist — delicious fillings that people clearly can’t get enough of.

“I just wanted to make some money and I love desserts, so I figured why not try and start selling them?” Reilly says. “I never imagined it to be this big. I thought I was just going to be making them out of my house and doing pick-ups.

“I had never planned to start baking from scratch,” she says. “This is kind of a freak thing.”

Courtesy BakedwithGrace via Facebook.

Unable to keep up with the cookie-pie requests from her home, Reilly started working from a shared professional kitchen space. But she quickly outgrew that, too, and now has her own storefront in Babylon that just celebrated its grand opening on July 17.

“I’m not stopping at one store,” Reilly says. I’m even talking to distributors to get them into more grocery stores. It’s already in Uncle Giuseppe’s and a bunch of other markets across Long Island.”

You can also find BakedwithGrace at Fat Boys Burrito Co. in Bellmore, Coliseum Kitchen in Plainview, Gabby’s Gourmet Deli in Woodbury, and many other locations. 

So all you cookie fanatics and all around dessert-lovers, clear your afternoon schedule — there are cookie-pies with your name on them! For more information, check out the BakedwithGrace website.

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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Long Islanders Continue Education to Make Post Pandemic Career Changes

continuing education
Many people went into healthcare after Covid-19 hit. (Getty Images)

The coronavirus forced many workers to change careers or learn new skills, often with the help of local continuing education programs.

Many colleges are seeing this shift in attitude reflected in their enrollment numbers. Some have noticed a particular uptick in service-oriented educational programs such as healthcare. Because these areas were hit so hard by the pandemic, one might expect their popularity to fall in response. Instead, people are flocking to enroll in these programs more than ever.

“Any time there’s a life-changing situation, people tend to re-evaluate their goals,” says Marguerite Lane, assistant vice president of enrollment management for Molloy College. “We saw that in the 2008 recession, and to a greater extent now with the pandemic. People are now taking the time to pursue their passions. People want to make a difference, instead of just having a job.” 

Such is the case with Brahashitha Gupta, director of the A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility Indian / Asian Unit in Uniondale. She used quarantine as an opportunity for reflection, and in that reflection, found purpose.

“[Covid] gave me a lot of time to think and reassess,” she says. “At the end of the day, you need to make sure you are fulfilling something that gives you happiness.” 

For Gupta, happiness involves a life of service.

“Senior citizens are such a vulnerable population,” she says. “They are left out. I wanted to do something more for them. That’s why I pursued this Community Health Worker program [at Nassau Community College].”

Community health workers serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community.

Even though some consider a remote learning format to be an obstacle, Gupta explains that it can actually be much more compatible with their already busy adult lives.

“You have more time, save money on gas, there’s less hustle-bustle energy where you’re always on the go,” she says of online schooling. “If the remote learning option wasn’t available, I wouldn’t have even chosen to go back and study. It gave me more time with my family, and of course the cooking and cleaning. At the end of the day, I had more time on my hands.”

Covid-19 brought terrible losses. However, it also brought us this novel opportunity to reevaluate ourselves and our situations. In the months of quietude in 2020, people were forced to reckon with their goals and desires. For many, this started a road of self-improvement, the destination of which was often education.

As Lane said, “Education is never just about doing better in your career or making more money. Education is always about learning and growing as a person. And I think that when people self-reflect and want to do something for themselves, they take the opportunity in education.”

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