There are a group of low-key businesses along the corridor that are below the average shopper’s radar, but are nonetheless key to the economy, drawing thousands to the city. We’re talking about the scattering of private practices of dentists, doctors, optometrists and the like. Some have been here for generations, bucking the trend to move to the mall, while others are relative newcomers, seeking their opportunity in downtown. And they haven’t been disappointed.
Actually, you probably have seen the sign for Dr. Gilberto Nunez, D.D.S., prominently displayed on the brick building at 389 Washington Avenue, next to Dietz Stadium. Nunez bought the building six years ago, after purchasing the dentistry practice that had been there for years, and says the visibility of the location is a big advantage. Since taking over, Nunez, a native of the Dominican Republic who was second in his class at dentistry school at New York University, has nearly tripled the number of patients, from 1,200 to 3,500. Some come from as far away as Margaretville. He offers high-quality care, using the latest and best materials, coupled with an involvement with his patients that harks back to the traditional family practice. “You build a relationship with a patient,” Nunez says.
On occasion he even consults with elderly patients at their home. He has attended his patients’ birthdays and funerals. “I love my job and have fun doing it,” he says. Nunez has seven employees, and his website, www.gnunezdental.com, provides a full overview of his services.
Another young dentist who has settled in Kingston is Dr. Thomas Cingel, who took over the practice of Dr. David Fletcher at 350 Broadway three and a half years ago. (The practice was started by David’s father Murray in the 1950s.) Cingel, a product of the Onteora School District and the SUNY system, where he got both his undergraduate and professional degrees, became a committed urbanist after taking a class in college on urban planning. He takes pride in his Midtown location, noting that it is still a viable economic hub. He recommends local eateries to patients. He also banks locally—at Ulster Federal Credit Union and Rondout Savings Bank.
Cingel draws people from as afar away as Hudson and Coxsackie and has had 80 new patients since the new year. He says his approach in caring for his patients involves training them in techniques that promote good oral hygiene. “That makes them a happier, responsive patient. And when they’re happier, I’m happier. It’s pure joy,” he says.
Cingel rents a duplex with his fiancé in Uptown Kingston. As both a Kingston businessperson and resident, he is keen on bringing prominent Indie bands to Kingston, enriching the local music scene. He’s started contacting a few of his favorites in New York City. In exchange for a free concert in Kingston, which Cingel would book and promote, he is offering band members a free check-up and dental work at a reduced cost. “I call it Dental Care for Indie Rock,” says the 31-year-old dentist.
Park Optical, at 578 Broadway combines the services of an optician and optometrist, so you need go no farther if you need an eye exam and prescription glasses. Mike Richmond’s father Robert started the business 50 years ago. Mike joined the practice in 1981, and in 1987 the Richmonds bought the building next door, expanding the business to include eye exams. Optometrist Stephen Fine joined the practice in 2003. Today the staff of ten includes three opticians and four optometrists. The business draws from a 10-mile radius. The spacious, attractive dispensary displays every kind of lens you can think of. The comprehensive selection of designer frames includes such exclusive names as Kelly and Robert Marc.
Park Optical recently updated the storefront with a $10,000 grant from the city’s façade program. One advantage of being in Midtown is that both the architect, Paul Jankowitz, and stone mason. Jim McGowan, were right around the corner. Richmond says staying in Midtown enabled the business to expand, something that would have been impossible if it had relocated to the mall, where rents are “cost prohibitive.” Richmond said he loves being near restaurants and other services. In order to appeal to younger customers, the business also has a website and a page on Facebook, whose list of friends includes many customers.
Optometrist Joseph Cohen has been practicing at 70 North Front Street for 15 years. (The space was formerly a sporting goods and ski supply store run by his dad, and before that, a café and tailor shop operated by his grandfather.) Cohen offers comprehensive eye care and participates in both the MVP and NHA-Kingston Teachers’ plans. He says in his opinion, the mall could never compete with Uptown as a desirable location, given the district’s historic charm and vibrant neighborhood; Cohen has numerous relationships with fellow businesspeople that goes back decades. He said the biggest growth in his practice derives from retirees who’ve relocated to Kingston from the metropolitan New York area—an auspicious sign of the city’s strong appeal.