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Community Defends Dolphin Bookshop

Port Washington residents ask the Baxter Estates board to lift a ban preventing the cafe from offering takeout food.

is a Port Washington icon. The store is family run, and has called Port home since 1946. But many residents, including owner Patti Vunk, fear that a ban on takeout goods will hurt the shop's , and possibly lead to the demise of this long-established business.

Nearly a year ago Vunk applied for everything needing approval before beginning construction on the café. One section of the agreement that was overlooked was the paragraph concerning the customers' ability to take food or beverage with them off the premise. According to the variance, patrons could not bring any food or beverage purchased from the store with them when they left.

For Vunk, the matter is causing concern. According to the store’s attorney, Joseph Asselta, reactions from customers told they could not take what they bought out of the store “ranged from mild annoyance to utter disbelief.”

Vunk and her staff worry that the ban makes it more difficult, as a smaller mom-and-pop store, to compete with larger companies.

The shop put out a petition, in store and online, encouraging residents to support a request to receive permission for patrons to take food and beverage off the premises.

At the  meeting Wednesday evening, Vunk’s attorney, along with many Port residents, defended the store’s right to offer takeout.

Howard Blankman, a long-time resident, told the council, “It’s a win-win situation.” He sees the Dolphin as an asset to Port Washington. “It’s a place that’s done with taste and refinement and civility,” he said. 

Also speaking on behalf of the Dolphin was local couple Betty and Hugh Stephens. “We’ve seen how difficult it is on lower Main Street,” Hugh Stephens said. “Whatever we can do to help them in this terrible business climate, we should.”

Betty Stephens agreed, noting that Dolphin should have the same rights as other businesses. “It should be fair and equal with the
different businesses,” she said.

Barbara Lawrence, a Port resident for 49 years, said, “I don’t remember there not being a Dolphin Bookshop in town. We are so lucky to have it.”

Resident Mark Gamell spoke from the consumer perspective. “Let us buy what we like and drink what we like,” he told the council.

Other speakers included Mindy Germain of Residents for More Beautiful Port Washington; Anthony Testa, who manages the building in which Dolphin is located; and Mitch Shwartz, co-president of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce. All agreed the ban should be lifted.

After the session, Patti Vunk said she felt very positive about the upcoming
decision. “It was a very beautiful thing,” she said. “It’s so good to be loved
and appreciated.”

The board said it would announce its decision Thursday morning. Patch will report the results when they become availagle. 

jonathan winant June 28, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Lerts push business out of P. Washington.... Well thats exactly what we are doing and we will all pay in the end. I was under the impression that Port Washington was trying to keep businesses hjere and to try to fill vacant stores. Some laws are outdated and actually do more to hurt a community. I hope the Dolphin Book Shop wins. Everyone should hope so.
R Miller June 28, 2012 at 09:56 AM
That is what is happening here in this town. Nothing is being done by any municipality to maintain and to attract any sort of business. what in this day and age of a tough economy and restrictive regulations make it that anyone wants to maintain or start a business here in this town.
jonathan winant June 28, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Maybe some of the voiced opions posted on this site need to find their way to the politicians. Maybe the Patch should forward the sometimes long list of comments which speak how the residents feel about numerous issues.
R Miller June 28, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Sadly the opinions are know by our politicians. I have met with them and their various representatives on various issues ranging from overall planning to why does it take six months to get a fence permit in the TONH. Everyone is very courteous about it and acknowledges there is a problem, then a week later they will use stats to make it seem like there is no problems. It is this type of disregard for the public that has helped take the starch out of peoples step to want to do anything.
fred June 28, 2012 at 11:33 AM
This seems like a no brainier, but why would the no take out clause even be in the contract? Would they not have approved the cafe if it was offering take out?
Bryan Jay June 28, 2012 at 11:45 AM
This is more of the TONH nonsense! Here they are trying to penalize a community icon by enforcing more of the "made up on the fly" restrictions, on a company that is producing tax dollars and enriching our community. This new spot for Dolphin I am sure has it's struggles with the poor parking situation as compared to it's last home, and the owner came up with a solution to offset that, and the town is doing everything they can to create more challenges. I am born and raised here in Port, and Dolphin has always been a great asset and resource for the community. People need to wake up and remember the new punitive nature of the TONH which Kaiman takes full credit for, as indicated in his own press releases. The next time this guy runs, we need to get him out before he ruins every nice thing about our beautiful town, under the guise of progress and uniformity.
Sean Hassett June 28, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Where/how will they announce their decision?
George Mulligan June 28, 2012 at 12:53 PM
From reading the above article, I think this is a Village of Baxter Estates issue. I don't think the TONH is involved this time.
Jerry June 28, 2012 at 02:47 PM
It seems like only a short time ago the bookstore was on the verge of going under and we were all encouraged to go there and spend money to help out the struggling business, which I happily did. Miraculously, about a year after that cry for help the bookstore announced plans to move to a much bigger and better space. Weird, right? I know. Then about a year after that they announced plans to open a cafe. And here they are once again facing possible extinction. Give them the variance, it's ridiculous. The only ones who should care are the deli and the marketplace and I doubt they will lose much business. Otherwise it's win-win. Just please stop all the drama, it's getting tiresome and has become a bit of a turn-off. I don't have an e-reader but we all know how this is going to end. Try buying a cd in town.
hank ratner June 28, 2012 at 02:48 PM
No brainer whether it's Baxter Estates or North Hempsteads decision!
Ben June 28, 2012 at 04:01 PM
I doubt that Dolphin Books will make any profit from the cafe when the glow wears off it will be forgotton and closed (the cafe) and lets hope that Dolphin Book Shop can hang on it looks to me like times are tough the cafe is an attempt to drum up business and it may not work I wish Dolphin Book Shop good luck.
Isabella June 30, 2012 at 11:21 PM
I was so happy to see this store take over the corner when it was empty. Why would anyone want do vote against keeping i t open? This town is dwindling to nothing as it is. I don't get it. What will the children do on Sundays when the parents take them for their walks in town? If this place closes I give up on this town, I really do.

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