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Harbor Grill says it will change its dress code to allow religiously significant headwear.

Harbor Grill in Port Jefferson said it has a policy against headwear during Friday and Saturday nights. Photo by Kyle Barr

A young Stony Brook University graduate said he was barred from entering Port Jeff’s Harbor Grill the early morning of Sunday, May 12, because he wears a turban, a religiously significant headwear.

Gurvinder Grewal, 23, who graduated in 2018, said he went out the night of May 11 past midnight to hang out with friends. His companions were already in the Harbor Grill restaurant and bar, and he was having his ID checked when he was stopped and told by a manager he was not allowed in with “a head covering.” Harbor Grill has a weekend dress code for Friday and Saturday nights after 10 p.m. restricting all headwear, though the policy made no explicit exceptions for clothing of religious significance.

Grewal, a medical scribe at CityMD, said he tried to explain his situation as he is a Sikh, whose religion stems from Punjab in northern India. Male practitioners wear turbans as articles of faith, and are not meant to remove the headwear in public.

“Never had any experience like this in my life.”

— Gurvinder Grewal

Not trying to hold up the line of people trying to get in, he went to the back of the line and came up a second time, only to be rebuffed again, and was told it was due to the restaurant’s policy on headwear.

“[I] was shocked and embarrassed,” the graduate said. “Never had any experience like this in my life.”

A Facebook post from Harbor Grill said Grewal’s black-colored turban seemed at the time “would be more widely perceived as the slang term ‘[do-]rag’ or a ‘stocking cap’ and not a traditional turban.” It said the original rule was put in place because a rule that singled out specific groups would itself be “discriminatory.”

Tom Schafer, the owner of Harbor Grill, said he has chided the manager in question and has told him to use his better judgment in cases like this. He added he plans to speak to the rest of his staff and implement a new Friday and Saturday night dress-code policy of no headwear excluding religiously required headwear, for example yarmulkes and turbans. The new code will be posted near the front door.

“I don’t have an inkling of prejudice in any way,” Schafer said. “The code was not meant to be discriminating, it was solely for the safety of patrons and staff.”

Grewal said that he was glad to see them changing the dress code, but he found the comment about his turban looking like “a do-rag” to be problematic, especially since he described it several times as a turban to the manager.

Barbara Ransome, director of operations for Port Jeff Chamber of Commerce, said the policy at Harbor Grill was to better identify troublemakers in a crowd and, as a private property, the owner is allowed to make that decision. At the same time, the barring of a person over religious garment would cross over into First Amendment territory.

“Their staff may need to be educated,” she said.

The SBU graduate said he told the manager he had been let inside the establishment last year, back when Harbor Grill was then named Schafer’s. He said he was told the policy on headgear was a new policy.

Several other students and graduates of SBU, who did not wish to be named in this article, all confirmed watching Grewal be denied entry.

“The code was not meant to be discriminating, it was solely for the safety of patrons and staff.”

— Tom Schafer

Bansri Shah, a digital media/pre-law student at SBU, posted a message to Facebook about the situation, saying she felt it was especially concerning considering the diversity of students from the nearby university.

“Honestly, I never expected this type of action taken from an establishment in Port Jeff considering the racial diversity in a college town right next door, Stony Brook, but I think it’s really messed up,” Shah said in her original Facebook post.

In a conversation over Facebook messenger, Shah said she arrived as several people were trying to talk to the bouncer about what happened, but they were ignored.

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said she had messaged both Shah and Grewal and had told the latter she was sorry about what had allegedly happened to him, and that “this does not reflect the tenor or tone of the policies of the Village of Port Jefferson.” She also suggested to him his first step would be to file a police report if he wished to commit to any penal or civil legal action.

“I didn’t want that incident to become a black eye on the village,” the mayor said. “Anybody of race, color, sexuality, we embrace and invite everyone here.”

The graduate said he plans to file a police report and pursue some sort of legal action.

“I was just really surprised that something like this happened to me at a college bar,” he said. “I always read online and on social media about Sikhs and other minorities facing similar situations, but never thought that I would face the situation in my life living on Long Island.”

This post has been amended to correct the origins of Sikhism.

Owner Anthony Amen, center, celebrates with his staff, local officials, chamber members and clients last Saturday. Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Mount Sinai-Miller Place Chamber Alliance hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening for Redefine Fitness in Mount Sinai on May 4. The event was attended by friends, family, staff, clients, chamber members and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) and Leg. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), who presented owner Anthony Amen with Certificates of Congratulations. 

“Redefine Fitness offers personal training and special weight loss programs with a unique approach to guide their clients to reach their goals. The Mount Sinai-Miller Place Chamber Alliance welcomes them to our community and wishes them all the best in their future success,” said JoAnn Klein, membership director for the chamber.

“Leg. Anker and I are major supporters of small businesses. We appreciate you having faith in Mount Sinai and opening up a business here. We wish you all the success in the world,” added Bonner.

“Redefine Fitness offers one on one training, small group training, special needs training. We’re here to help people. We just want to help everyone live happy and healthy lives. We hope to continue and grow,” said Amen. “I just want to thank everyone for their support.”

Located at 5507 Nesconset Highway in the King Kullen Shopping Center, the gym is open Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to noon. For more information, call 631-743-9906 or visit www.redefine-fitness.com.

From left, Huntington Subaru General Manager Gary Farley and Sales Manager Vinny Rizzo present Huntington Hospital’s Dr. Nick Fitterman and Dr. Robert Kerr with a $35,000 donation. Photo from Northwell Health

CHECK PRESENTATION

Huntington Subaru donated $35,000 – proceeds from its Share the Love program – to Huntington Hospital’s neurosurgery department on April 15.  

Subaru’s Share the Love program involves Subaru of America, on behalf of Huntington Subaru, donating up to $250 for every vehicle leased or sold at the Huntington dealership between Nov. 15, 2018 and Jan. 3, 2019.

“This generous donation will help Huntington Hospital’s neurosurgery program to continue to stay on the forefront providing cutting-edge medical care to Suffolk County residents,” said Dr. Nick Fitterman, executive director of Huntington Hospital.

The hospital’s neurosurgery department is led by Dr. Robert Kerr, chair of neurosurgery. He helped institute the O-arm in 2016, a state-of-the-art imaging system that allows surgeons to precisely see where to place hardware during delicate neurosurgery. Huntington Hospital was the first on Long Island to use this system.

For more information about Huntington Hospital’s neurosurgery department, call 631-351-4840.

Raga Indian Restaurant and Bar closed April 28 and will reopen this summer as an Old Fields Barbecue. Photo by David Luces

A familiar face is bringing some barbecue cooking to East Setauket.

After Raga Indian Restaurant and Bar on Old Town Road closed April 28, new owner David Tunney and his team got right to work creating plans to turn the building into an Old Fields Barbecue. 

Tunney, who grew up in Setauket and graduated from Ward Melville High School, said he had his eye on the location for the last few years, and he recently made a deal with Raga’s owner. Tunney is best known on the North Shore as the owner of the Old Fields restaurants in Port Jefferson and Greenlawn and Old Fields Barbecue in Huntington. He is also one of the founders of the Besito Restaurant Group along with his brother John and part-owner of Besito Mexican restaurants in Huntington and Roslyn. The former owner of Honu Kitchen and Cocktails in Huntington said he gained experience in the business running establishments such as Oheka Castle before venturing into owning a place of his own.

“I’ve been around the block, and I’m back in my hometown,” Tunney said.

While he now lives in Greenlawn, the 53-year-old said he has a lot of memories of growing up in the Three Village area where his love for the restaurant hospitality business began. His mother, Marilyn, worked in the TBR News Media offices for 25 years, and one of his first jobs was at the Arby’s that once was located where the Setauket Main Street firehouse is today. Tunney said his first job was with the former Dining Car 1890 that was located on Route 25A and Nicolls Road, where he started as a dishwasher.

He said he feels residents will welcome a new restaurant that is moderately priced. The barbecue place will serve dishes such as fried chicken, Mahi fish sandwiches, pulled pork and hamburgers cooked in cast iron as well as sides including cornbread and mac and cheese.

“It’s really for everybody,” he said. “You can bring your kids there. You can come with a date. You can come with business people.”

Tunney’s partner in the new restaurant is Rory Van Nostrand, who has worked with him since 2006 when the latter started as a busboy at Honu. The executive chef will be Israel Castro, who began working with the pair when Tunney bought the Greenlawn location in 2010. Castro became executive chef when Old Fields in Port Jefferson opened a few years ago.

Before opening up Old Fields Barbecue in Huntington, Tunney, Van Nostrand and Castro traveled down the East Coast to states such as Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and others to research restaurants that specialize in barbecue. Van Nostrand said during their travels, in addition to stopping at known places like Franklin Barbecue in Texas, they would ask people where their favorite barbecue places were, and Castro said they weren’t hesitant to stop at no-name places along the side of the road.

“We really ate our way through barbecue,” Castro said.

Van Nostrand said a lot of chefs were willing to share tips with them along the way.

“It’s really more of a technique food than an ingredient recipe food,” Van Nostrand said. “It’s very much an art.”

When it comes to the Old Fields Barbecue menu, Castro listed the brisket and pork among his favorites, while Van Nostrand said he loves the chorizo sausage and corned beef and also eats the smoked chicken, which is cooked with no oil or butter, regularly.

“It’s a small menu as far as a restaurant goes,” Castro said. “There’s a core group of food items that need to be excellent. So, we put all kinds of effort into making them the best we can.”

Tunney said he leaves the cooking to his chefs, even though he admits to making a great grilled cheese — something he made for the first time when he was five years old at a Setauket diner when the owner invited him into the kitchen. Most of all he enjoys the hospitality side of the business, something he credits to his brother John for teaching him.

“The part I really love about it is making people have a great experience and that they just love all the food, the service, the ambiance, how they are taken care of,” he said.

The restaurateur is hoping to open the new restaurant at the end of July or the beginning of August. 

“This is where I grew up, this is where my roots are, and it’s amazing to come back to it,” Tunney said.

A DELICIOUS WAY TO GIVE BACK

The Pro-Port Restaurant Association, in cooperation with the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, hosted the second annual Spring Breakfast Crawl in the Village of Port Jefferson on March 23. The sold-out event, which gave participants the opportunity to sample breakfast at 15 shops and restaurants, raised $500 for Hope House Ministries. 

The charitable contribution fulfills one of the objectives for the group in addition to promoting the interests of the Port Jefferson food and beverage service industry. 

Pictured at the check presentation, from right, Tommy Schafer of both Harbor Grill and Tommy’s Place, Matt Murray of Barito Taco and Cocktails, Atsushi Nakagawa of Slurp Ramen, Steve Miller of Hope House Ministries, Joe Ciardullo of C’est Cheese, John Urbinati of The Fifth Season, Debra and Jerry Bowling of Pasta Pasta and Lisa Harris of both Prohibition Kitchen and East Main and Main.

Stacy Davidson in her shop in Port Jefferson

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

Pattern Finders/Stacy’s Finds is celebrating its 25th anniversary at 128 East Main St., Port Jefferson this May. Owner Stacy Davidson credits her longevity by keeping her inventory unique for her loyal customers and for her personal service. Faced with closing several years ago due to the change in demand for her original inventory, she reinvented her shop to contain treasures, old and new, evening wear, vintage furs, jewelry, antiques and gifts. 

Davidson’s treasure trove includes museum-quality estate jewelry from the 1800s to today’s interesting finds. In celebration of 25 years of patronage, she is offering 25 percent off any one item in the store this month. 

One of Davidson’s high points was being credited as business person of the year by this newspaper in the past. Her ongoing charity work for local needy children makes her very proud.

Store hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4. Closed Mondays. For more information, call 631-928-5158 or visit www.stacysfinds.com.

Above, Lance Reinheimer with a portrait of William K. Vanderbilt II Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt Museum

The Public Relations Professionals of Long Island (PRPLI) will honor Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, at its 29th annual awards dinner on May 8, at Westbury Manor in Westbury. Reinheimer will receive the Long Island Achievement Award for communications.

Reinheimer, who has held his current post for more than eight years, has maintained an active, lifelong commitment to community service.

Continuing that commitment at the Vanderbilt, he instituted special, free museum events for families of first responders, active military personnel and veterans, children with special needs and for students in high-needs school districts. His background in budgeting, accounting and finance helped pave the way for the museum’s now-strong balance sheet.

“This award recognizes the success that the staff and trustees have had in communicating the cultural and historical significance of this singular American family, estate and museum – to our region and the wider world,” Reinheimer said. “Our greatly expanded social-media efforts have generated wider awareness of our public programming, children’s workshops, and special events. Other gratifying benefits are increased attendance and rising levels of membership and support.”

Other PRPLI honors to be given that evening include the Jack Rettaliata Lifetime Achievement Award to Julie Gross Gelfand, director of public relations and communications for Marcum LLP Accountants and Advisors; the Howard M. Blankman Outstanding Mentor Award to Kali Chan, director of medicine media relations for Stony Brook Medicine, Stony Brook University; the Outstanding Media Award to Elizabeth Hashagen, morning co-anchor for News 12 Long Island; and the Rising Star Award to Kevin Wilkinson of Zimmerman/Edelson Inc., advertising and public relations. 

Premiere Pastry Shop officially opened its second location in the Harbor Crescent section of the picturesque Stony Brook Village Center during the center’s popular Spring Appreciation Day festivities on April 13, to the delight of everyone attending!

Both shops are a family affair for owners Nick and Angela, along with the assistance and talent of their children, Ariti and Chris.  With their St. James store in business for 10 years and Nick in the bakery business for over 30 years, it is a labor of love as well. 

Located at 117 Main St. in the former Crabtree & Evelyn store, Premiere Pastry is a European-style bakery with a wide selection of pastries, cakes and breads. Specialties include a variety of pastries, cannoli, raspberry mousse, peanut butter and Oreo cheesecakes, cream puffs, almond cookies and a large selection of fresh breads including challah, sourdough, pumpernickel, cranberry nut and semolina. Wedding cakes, cupcake towers, sheet cakes, pies, croissants, unicorn cupcakes for children and gluten-free items are also offered. All special occasion orders can be arranged with 3 to 5 days notice. 

Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, call 631-675-0909.

Photos courtesy of Stony Brook Village

The Shelf at East Main officially opened its doors April 19 and welcomed an array of local artists, who all said they were happy for the rare opportunity to show off their work.

The new consignment-style shop is similar to the typical art gallery, since artists show their work and give a percentage of sales to The Shelf.  But, Diane Walker, the new store owner, said that her operation is different, because it’s intended to be more encouraging to local artists. 

Kyle Kubik, Walker’s son and an artist himself, said people were coming in at the last hour to get their work on display.

“There’s no out of pocket expense to them, and it’s up to us, and them, to promote the venue,” Kubik said.

Walker, a 25-year resident of Mount Sinai, opened the shop to try and give those artists the opportunity to really flesh out their passions in a noncompetitive space, something that gives local artists a leg up in an often cutthroat field.

Now that The Shelf is open, here’s a small helping of some of the artists who have their stuff on display. All had a similar frame of mind, saying that there are very few spaces like the Shelf where they can display their work without an upfront cost or upfront judgment.

The Shelf at East Main, located at 218 E. Main St., Port Jefferson, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Walker said she expects she will soon start to open up the store for events outside regular hours. More information is available at www.visittheshelf.com.

Kyle Kubik

Walker’s son and an artist specializes in making video game and other pop culture inspired shirts and paraphernalia. He often ran the convention scenes and art shows from Long Island to New York City, and his mother saw the hustle that went into promoting one’s work as an artist. Kubik called it a gamble when one traveled to such events.

A customer holds one of Kyle Kubik’s shirts. Photo by Kyle Barr

“There’s a lot of competition out there, and there’s a high barrier to entry,” he said. “In my experience with conventions, I’ve walked out of events with a few thousand dollars in your pocket. I’ve walked out of events where I’m a thousand short, because I had to travel somewhere. Because of that hot and cold aspect, that’s what’s difficult for artists.”

He added that in some cases, even with quality work, some people simply don’t believe their work is good enough to be on display.

“We have macramé, we have knitted pieces,” he said. “You could put it up and be in a huge pool of people, or you can be in a local place with people in your community.”

More of Kubik’s work can be found at: www.kylevonkubik.tumblr.com/.

Crystal Wyllie

Crystal Wyllie speaks to a shopper. Photo by Kyle Barr

Wyllie, a Setauket resident, has been doing ceramic pottery since her college days, and opened up her own small workshop in her parent’s garage. She first learned about The Shelf from her aunt, the owner of Cardinal Realty in Port Jefferson, just next door to the new shop. 

“There aren’t many places where local artists can show their work in a noncompetitive atmosphere,” Wyllie said. “And I think it’s incredible to see what our community is capable of creating.”

To find more of Wyllie’s work, visit: @crystalmariepottery on Instagram or her website at www.crystalmariepottery.com.

Paul Cammarata 

One of Paul Cammarata’s photos. Photo by Kyle Barr

Cammarata is a local photographer, taking his inspiration from the idyllic sights of Port Jefferson, nearby Stony Brook and beyond. His photographs feature alluring destinations, images of classic cars, still lives and nature.

A graphic designer by trade, Cammarata got back into photography in the last few years after being convinced by a friend and watercolor artist. 

“Galleries can cost an artist a fortune — or you don’t get the right exposure sometimes,” he said. “Hopefully with the way [Walker] worked it out it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Cammarata’s work can be found at: www.fineartamerica.com.

Tracey Elizabeth

Tracey Elizabeth holding her painting. Photo by Kyle Barr

Elizabeth’s day job is photography, but she said her true passion is painting. 

To her, the new store is an opportunity not just for her, but for the community of small-town artists who are still looking to break out. It also gives the chance for the local community to see the creativity of their community.

“I live in Port Jeff, so I like that [Walker’s] using local artists,” she said. “It’s helping local artists, and it being a small town it really needs those small-town artists to be represented.”

Elizabeth’s photography can be found at: www.traceyelizabeth.com.

Paul Motisi 

One of Paul Motisi’s projects. Photo by Kyle Barr

Motisi works in graphic design, producing designs for shirts, album covers and more. He started doing freelance work out of college, and recently he started creating spray-painted stencil portraits and selling them on Etsy. He has portraits of characters from Rocky Balboa to The Dude from “The Big Lebowski.” Now his images sit in person inside The Shelf in Port Jefferson. He said many art shows and conventions can be hard to work with.

“Usually those people are very standoffish — they usually want you to jump through hoops, but these people were just so ready to have people involved,” Motisi said. “These places are in short supply.”

Motisi’s work can be found at his website: www.paulmotisi.com, or at his Etsy page at: www.etsy.com/shop/motisistencilart.

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Projections of what the new homes at the surf club could look like. Photo from MB Surf Club website

A once-private community club in Miller Place has sat unused for close to three years, but now a Rocky Point developer is planning to turn the site into townhomes.

Rocky Point’s Landmark Properties, owned by developer Mark Baisch, announced it had purchased the Miller Beach Surf Club, located at 23 Harbor Beach Road. The site closed in 2016 due to a lawsuit over its catering, according to Kyle Markott of Markott Realty. Since the 1960s, the site was home to a private beach club before turning into a wedding venue
in 2006.

Markott Realty facilitated the transaction and Markott said as a child he visited the location when it was still a local clubhouse for residents to barbeque and relax on the beach. 

“It was a really beautiful place,” he said. 

Baisch said the current buildings on the five-acre parcel would be bulldozed to install four waterfront townhouses, with two houses to each building. Each structure is two floors sized at 3,000 square feet, and would contain an attached garage. 

More information on the proposed townhouses can be found at: 

http://www.mbsurfclub.com/about.php

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