Deer Park is host to an ever-growing smorgasbord of fast food establishments, grocery stores, and gas stations, with little space for recreational activity. I’ve asked local Long Island residents, in and out of Deer Park, their opinions on the matter. The consensus seems unified. There is too much, but most don’t realize it.
Fast food is an important fixture of peoples’ lives in Deer Park. A cheap, quick alternative to cooking is too tempting to pass up, especially when they’re so near. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, from 2013-2016 37% of adults had eaten fast food on any day.
Along the pocked asphalt strip of Deer Park avenue is where most of these fast food places seem to congregate. In fact, there’s a McDonald’s at 1255 Deer Park Ave. There’s another at 1510 Deer Park Ave. within five minutes of each other, as per Google Maps calculations.
“[That new Chipotle is] pointless,” said Alisa Dainotto, a local resident, when asked her opinions on a new Chipotle opening. “It’s literally five minutes from the other one.” The two Chipotles, one at 1831 Deer Park Ave. and the other located inside Tanger Outlets on commack road, is another, more recent, instance of a chain location being too close together. In an official statement Chipotle said that they opened 236 new locations in 2022. They hope to open up to 285 more in 2023. With numbers like these, it makes sense that two might be near each other.
“Within two red lights, there’s ten fast food places,” laughed Mary Davis, an Islip resident who frequents the area. “It would be nice to have some more [recreational activity].”
While there is a bowling alley and a golf range nearby, the continued expansion of fast food seems to be troubling people.
While people seemed unified in their sentiment that there are far too many fast food joints in Deer Park, they didn’t really think about the social ramifications until asked. The growing collection of chain restaurants in Deer Park is seen more as a quirk to locals, rather than something that should be brought up in the next town hall meeting.
It’s not only fast food that has been growing in Deer Park. Supermarkets can be found within a stones throw of each other. A Lidl has just opened, taking the place of Strikeforce Sports, at 450 Commack Road just across from a Stop & Shop. When asked how she felt about this, resident Alisa Dainotto said, “[Lidl] is good competition, the products are cheaper and there’s a different selection.” Prices also differ greatly from supermarket to supermarket, so many residents like the options. Mary Davis, when asked, said that “I wish there were smaller options, like something that isn’t a Walmart or a BJs.”
Jim Yodice, an older Lindenhurst resident, remembers what Deer Park was like before fast food moved in, “Buffalo Wild Wings used to be a bowling alley,” recalled Yodice. “Panera [Bread] was a club.”
Potential recreational space has been ceded to the highest bidder, and I can’t blame them. It wasn’t too long ago, 2011 to be exact, that the first Sonic opened in Deer Park. The road was backed up with excited consumers, eager to spend money on a cheeseburger meal you might get anywhere. With potential profits being seemingly endless, it’s no wonder so many fast food places are open and are still operational.
According to statista.com, the market size of fast food restaurants has steadily grown from 230 billion dollars in 2012 to 331 billion dollars in 2022. When something makes money, why stop.
The convenience of fast food and supermarkets is what allows them to grow along with people’s complacence. When a Lidl moves in where an airsoft facility used to be, no one really questions it because of the convenience of Lidl. It’s important to think critically of one’s location, how space is being used, and how to improve the health of a community. While these places are convenient, they are more or less the same kind of burger place. It is of much greater pertinence that space is used for the public’s benefit.