Is it the combo in the corner playing the kind of music that wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to the Buena Vista Social Club as a scantily-clad lass and her sharply-dressed partner dance a mean merengue? Or maybe it’s the older gentleman in a crisp white shirt and fedora effortlessly rolling cigars while waitstaff shuttle mojitos to the assorted guests? Perhaps it’s the décor of high archways and ceilings, where fans lazily rotate, and the room features mossy green wallpaper adorned with lush palm fronds? Or it may even be the black and white portrait of the late Desi Arnez and Lucille Ball that shows the daffy redhead holding a banner that reads Havana. And while you may be wondering if you’re still in Garden City, in truth, you’ve entered Havana Central, a restaurant that evokes pre-Castro Cuba in its design, cuisine and ambience.
The man behind this explosion of Latin flavor is restaurant founder/ CEO Jeremy Merrin, who was hosting a ribbon cutting for what is now the fourth location in his string of restaurants. With the others being in Times Square, uptown near Columbia University and in Yonkers, this is Merrin’s first foray into Long Island. Located in the old Modells space at the Roosevelt Field Mall, this new eatery is just the latest addition to what’s quickly becoming a de facto restaurant row. The difference that separates Havana Central from its neighbors is that this is a sophisticated way of presenting Cuban culture while serving food that is rooted in the simplicity of both ingredients and preparation. It’s all part of the lifelong love affair Merrin has had with the Latin way of life that inspired him to open his first restaurant in 2002.
These are the four dishes handpicked by Executive Chef Stanley Licairac as being the best on the Havana Central menu:
Pernil Asado - Due to the volume, if we were to make it the traditional way that you would with a pork shoulder, we wouldn’t get the amount of meat out of it to feed the masses. It would [contain] a lot more fat. So we use a pork butt and even with that, we don’t get that much yield out of it. But it comes out to be a much better dish to be able to feed the masses and gives them an introduction to Latin cuisine.
Stewart Manor Mayor James Kelly and Deputy Mayor Robert C. Fabio said they will not seek re-election at upcoming village elections March 19.
Kelly, who also served on the board as a trustee from 2001 to 2007, said that while he was proud of what the board has accomplished during his tenure, “I will not be abler to invest the time and effort required due to personal and professional obligations.”
On Saturday, Jan. 12, the Tanner Pond Environmental Center/Garden City Bird Sanctuary commemorated its Fifth Annual Winterfest.
A self-created holiday meant to retell the story of the bird sanctuary and honor those who have donated trees in honor of someone else and those whom they were planted for, this event also represents hope and renewal in the dead of winter.
It’s no secret that the Garden City Union Free School District and Garden City High School are ranked among the best in the country. Ninety-nine percent of the Class of 2012 students are attending college and graduating with a Regents Diploma, with 81 percent of those graduates earning diplomas with Advanced Designation. While many factors can be attributed to these impressive statistics, the strongly held belief that a strong arts and music program is a crucial element of this success according to residents.
Look no further than the recent ribbon cutting celebrating the completion of the $10.5 million expansion and renovations of Garden City High School. The money was a chunk of the $36.5 million school investment bond and energy performance resolution passed by taxpayers in 2009. According to the school administration, a weak economy, low interest rates and a limited number of plan modifications had the estimated expenditure of the project drop to $33.9 million as of December 2012, resulting in the district saving an estimated $2.6 million. As far as New York State Education Department Regents Member Roger Tilles is concerned, it’s money well spent.
Hurricane Sandy – According to forecasting firm Eqicat, Hurricane Sandy caused somewhere between $30 to $50 billion worth of damage in the United States. On a local level, Garden City got slammed pretty hard by the storm not only losing power throughout the village for an extended period of time, but losing approximately 575 trees, (72 percent of which were oaks according to Tanners Pond Environmental Center head Rob Alvey), as well as spending $4.5 million for clean-up efforts of which approximately 87.5 percent will be refunded by the federal and state governments.
School Budget Passes – At a time when school districts around New York State are trying to pass budgets that stay within a state-mandated two percent cap, the Village of Garden City got its 2012-2013 school budget passed by a margin of 1,820-1,044. The passage of the proposed $104,215,528 budget was an increase of $3,098,470, a 3.06 percent increased over its 2011-12 predecessor. Cost control efforts that included a renegotiation of the Garden City Teachers Association (GCTA) contract that represented an overall savings of approximately $675,000 for the 2012-13 school year, staff minimization and the district’s continued membership in a number of purchasing consortiums helped bring the proposed budget number down. Along the way, class size guidelines were maintained, special programs were retained and no buildings closed. The May announcement of the school budget passing coincided with U.S. News and World Report recently ranking Garden City High School 138 nationally, a gain of 60 places since 2010.
6. The End Of One Era And The Start Of Another – When Commissioner Ernie J. Cipullo filed his retirement papers with the village, he capped off a distinguished 51-year career serving Garden City after reporting for his first day of duty on April 20, 1961. During this time, Cipullo not only received 27 departmental citations as a police officer, but served in a number of high-ranking positions as president and vice-president on numerous professional organizations including the Garden City P.B.A. and the Nassau Police Conference. His successor is Kenneth Jackson, who the old commissioner personally hired back in 1985 and served as a mentor to since then. The recently-minted commissioner is no slouch himself, having racked up numerous awards and accolades including the New York American Legion Law and Order Award (twice). A smoother transition to one of the community’s more crucial areas couldn’t have been pulled off better.
What do Dr. Maulana Karenga, Anna Jarvis, and Garden City’s own Robert Alvey have in common? They each founded a holiday to celebrate the human ideals we cherish. Dr. Karenga founded Kwanzaa as a celebration of African American family, culture and community. Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day to extol the virtues of motherhood. Rob Alvey founded the Garden City Bird Sanctuary/Tanners Pond Nature Preserve and in so doing inspired the board of directors to found Winterfest in January 2009. Our holiday is a celebration of the difference that each of us can make for this world to become a better place.
Rob’s selfless dedication to the environment and helping others is embodied in him and our volunteers/supporters with some of the best traits humanity has to offer, such as environmental stewardship, volunteerism, and hope for a better tomorrow because of the efforts that people of good will do for each other today. It is, therefore, my honor to invite all who wish to be there to the 5th Annual Winterfest. See the GCBS’s own holiday that celebrates these very same characteristics and honors our supporters as “people of good will” (a phrase you will hear quite a lot at our ceremonies)! Hence, our festivities are held the second Saturday of January each year. This year they will be held on January 12.
The Western Property Owners Association (WPOA) will hold its Annual Resident Electors’ Meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m. at Homestead School. Nominating Committee Chairman Maureen Traxler will present the committee’s selection for village and school board candidates. Following WPOA procedures, Western residents will vote on the committee’s nominees.
In light of the devastation of the Garden City tree population as a result of Super Storm Sandy, the WPOA has invited an arborist to speak at the January meeting about various kinds of trees, their hardiness and root systems, as well as the proper care of trees, and replanting options.
“I don’t believe it would be feasible to occupy the building for that [estimate],” Erwin said. “That price [of $8.2 million] is underestimated and there needs to be additional work along with the simple issue of overcoming the building’s safety issues, which are out of everybody’s control. [That’s] really up to the building inspectors and other parties.”
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