When it shuttered its doors in November 2012, many Long Island residents feared that Stango's, the oldest Italian restaurant on Long Island, would shut down for good after close to 100 years of serving up high-quality pasta, chicken, pizza, and seafood dishes.
Glen Cove, New York, residents were saddened to see the long-running, beloved restaurant boarded up and seemingly lost forever, as the restaurant had been pleasing customers with homemade Italian dishes since 1919.
Stango's came to prominence in the 1920s, when blue-collar workers who were working on neighborhood estates flocked to the restaurant for its elegant lunches with a southern Italian flair.
As word spread about the fine cooking of original owners Frank and Concetto Stango, Stango's expanded its hours and started serving dinner. The restaurant survived the Great Depression by making their own bread, soup, and pasta and using vegetables in abundance from neighborhood gardens. Stango's also survived a 1973 fire and the economic downturn of the early 2000s.
Why Did It Close?
While most Glen Cove residents were upset to see Stango's boarded up in late 2012, they weren't especially surprised. The restaurant was located in "The Orchard," a small hub of Glen Cove well off the beaten path known by some as the heart of Long Island's Little Italy. Despite Stango's top-notch food quality, friendly staff, and historical legacy, the restaurant was a victim of a poor location.
Stango's, located at 19 Grove St., wasn't noticeable by car or foot traffic traveling down Glen Cove's most major roadway -- Cedar Swamp Road -- and a nearby bowling alley that drew many of the restaurant's regulars in had also been torn down in the wake of the economic crisis of 2008.
When the bowling alley was torn down, Stango's was left as the last remaining business in The Orchard. That appeared to be a recipe for disaster for Long Island's oldest Italian restaurant, and locals had their worst fears confirmed when Stango's closed down.
Suozzi Saves the Day
Surprisingly, Glen Cove residents looking for a place to eat with their families on Easter Sunday this year saw former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi greeting people in front of the newly redesigned "Stango's in the Orchard," urging them to come check out the fancy new digs.
After three months without Stango's, the restaurant is back and better than ever, due in part to Suozzi's efforts. Led by Suozzi and a 10-person investment team, Long Island's oldest Italian restaurant has been renovated with new wall paneling, carpeting, exterior signage, and a divider between dining room sections.
The location dilemma has been solved by additional signage placed on Cedar Swamp Road that directs car and foot traffic to the restaurant.
Suozzi, who harkened back to his Glen Cove roots when deciding to go in on the project, said he's hoping to integrate more of a family-friendly vibe than the restaurant's former incarnation. "The idea was to make it so that kids coming from their Little League baseball games could come here with their families," Suozzi said. "We hope for a very welcome, family-friendly atmosphere. It's great for Stango's to continue to be a part of Glen Cove."
Suozzi, who served as Glen Cove's mayor from 1992 until 2000, knew he wanted to do something to help relaunch Long Island's oldest Italian restaurant, because one of his grandfather's first jobs was a busboy gig for Stango's. Suozzi's wife, Helene, who is also in on the Stango's in the Orchard project, said customers may bring in black-and-white photographs of Glen Cove from earlier than 1950 -- Stango's will post their pictures on the walls to help showcase the city's history.
Eric Holden, a lifelong New York resident, grew up in Glen Cove and enjoyed Stango's during his teenage years. Follow him on Twitter @EricHolden.
- Dining & Nightlife
- Glen Cove
- Long Island