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Sandy Victim: Love Lane Market Closes Doors; Community Reacts

An open letter to the public outlines owner Michael Avella's frustrations and sadness at closing.

Just over a year after Superstorm Sandy battered the business, Love Lane Market in Mattituck has shut its doors forever.

The specialty and gourmet grocer, which was opened by Michael Avella in 2011, was hit hard by the storm.

"It is with deep regret that I am closing the Love Lane Market," Avella said in a release Thursday. "I apologize to my customers, my employees and the community at large. Although I did what I could, we were not able to recover from the losses sustained from Superstorm Sandy.

"When Sandy hit our area the winds knocked down the power lines on Love Lane," Avella added. "When, after a few days, LIPA arrived to re-attach the cables they failed to re-attach one leg of the Market’s three-phase electric current. Upon turning the power back on, all of our three-phase equipment 'phased out”'and was ruined. This resulted in all our perishable products, which had been kept safe in our walk-in freezers and refrigerators, to spoil and be discarded. Claims to our insurance carrier were ignored for over six months; so that in the meantime, the rest of our shelf stable products expired and also needed to be discarded. Ultimately we received a miniscule settlement."

Other insurance issues plagued the business, Avella said, and a "claim was denied," he said. 

Avella said he spent months applying to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal Small Business Administration and New York State for assistance through "much publicized programs. The application process started in November 2012 and became dozens of pages in length, including hundreds of pages of supporting documents. Over the months, I responded to endless requests for additional paperwork. At times it appeared that these agencies were looking for any excuse to deny my appeals for assistance. Ultimately, I was unable play their waiting game any longer."

Avella said he attempted to reach out to elected officials, as well.

"My wife and I threw our last dime into the effort to re-open the Market; having been told that the agencies were more likely to help businesses that had re-opened their doors. We find ourselves having exhausted our resources and unable to sustain the Market through the coming winter.

"Intellectually, I know that many others have faced even worse devastation in the aftermath of the storm, homes lost, lives and loved ones lost; but, personally, I will likely never recover from the emotional and financial loss this year-long nightmare has caused.

"Love Lane Market was an integral part of Mattituck and the North Fork, offering employment, support for local farmers and businesses, unique services and community spirit. I will miss my customers and neighbors. Thank you to all the great friends and patrons who supported us over the years," Avella wrote.

The news hit the Mattituck business community hard. "We will miss you and Patty greatly," wrote Donielle Cardinale of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty. "I wish you both the very best moving forward. Thank you so much for all you have done over the years."

Initially, after Sandy caused serious damage to custom-built refrigeration compressors at the Love Lane Market, closing the doors of the Mattituck shop, owner Avella sent Patch, saying that he planned to reopen as soon as possible.

"Power surges in the area caused short-circuiting of the internal windings of all five of our compressors, and they will need to be replaced," Avella said. "Unfortunately these are not off-the-shelf items, but we plan to reopen as soon as possible my dedication to this business is evident — no one wants to see the Market reopen more than I do."

Avella started out on Love Lane in 2007 when he opened the Love Lane Kitchen, which is currently being run by restaurateur Carolyn Iannone.

LIPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

dberson1 December 07, 2013 at 07:50 AM
Patch: Stay on this story. What is the responsibility of LIPA? I am sorry that many of us were unaware of the depths of the problems. This is a sad story.
mike edelson December 08, 2013 at 01:44 AM
A great location for someone who will provide great food at reasonable prices. People do not want to pay outrageous prices for a million dollar renovation. They will pay for great food.

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