As Hurricane Sandy's winds cast Glen Cove into darkness, Forest Pizza's bright red sign served as a beacon of electricity on Forest Ave., drawing crowds that formed lines that could barely fit inside the place.
The same went for Glen Cove Bagel Cafe across the road, where people with umbrellas tried to stay dry despite Monday morning's light rain as they took up the rear of the line.
"Sometimes I apologize for the situation. It gets really crowded and people have to wait," owner John Compitello said two days into the outages. His store opened at 5 a.m. each day and sometimes remained open past 8 p.m. It was one of the only places serving food while most of the city was without power.
"They respond that they're thankful we're open. Everybody is appreciative," he said Wednesday. "We own seven Bagel Cafes, and the sense of community here is incredible."
Both Forest Ave. businesses powered through the outages with generators. Extension cords with light bulbs hung like vines overhead at Forest Pizza, where the ovens produced a constant stream of pies for days after the storm.
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Sales were cash only, which wasn't a problem for the dozens of customers who crammed into either establishment at any given time.
The Downtown Cafe was another destination for many as lack of power approached the end of the week. Running on regular power, John Zozzarro said he and his staff felt at times like they were providing a service as much as operating a business.
"We've been really busy but we just keep working, and our customers have been patient with us," he said Wednesday. "We feel like we're helping people out. There's somewhere to go to eat."
Customer Mitch Schlimer sat in the cafe on day three of the outages, anxious over a scheduled trip to Atlanta for which there were no flights available last week. He said it was good to be among familiar faces after the boredom and silence of a house sans electricity.
"It's pretty miserable at home," Schlimer said.
Stango's also survived on regular power, and shared the wealth with residents who charged phones and other electronics.
The restaurant nearly ran out of mozzarella on Tuesday until "a delivery came in like a cavalry to the rescue," reported the Cocchiola's who own the place. "The food's hot and the drinks are cold."
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