By Karina Gerry and Kyle Barr
The winds of change have began to blow in Port Jefferson village as the new year brings a host of changes to the area’s small businesses.
A few restaurants in the area are closing. Japanese restaurant Oceans 88, famous for its sushi bar, planned to be closed Jan. 31. Owners did not respond for requests to comment.
“There’s no more sushi in the village, that’s a real shame,” said village Mayor Margot Garant.
Though not all is bad as a number of new shops, both new names and old names, take shape all around the village.
Billie’s 1890 Saloon
Billie’s 1890 Saloon, a Port Jefferson staple, has reopened its doors after a kitchen fire forced it to close two years ago.
The bar and restaurant located on Main Street is back in business under its original ownership. Founded in 1981 by Billie E. Phillips and his late first wife, Billie’s 1890 Saloon soon became a community favorite. In 1987, after six years, Phillips sold his business, but after the fire in June of 2016 he purchased the restaurant and bar back with his son, Billie S. Phillips, and set about renovating the space.
While the layout of Billie’s has remained relatively the same, the crowd has changed.
“It’s a more grown-up establishment,” Phillips Jr. said. “The same tables, and bar length and everything like that but it’s just been cleaned up and refurbished and we’re just going for a little more of an adult crowd than what it had turned out to be before the fire.”
Before the 2016 fire, Billie’s was considered a college bar, tailoring to the younger crowd with its infamous wheel, which was spun every hour and wherever the wheel landed was the drink that would be offered at a reduced price. Now, it has an age limit of 23, pushing away the crowd that made it so popular before.
“The new Billie’s seems to have a very different vibe,” Christopher Gulino, a former East Setauket resident said. “The renovations look great, but I think the customers that were regularly going to Billie’s when it was previously opened were looking forward to seeing the same old Billie’s.”
While the younger crowd may not be too happy with the changes to Billie’s, Phillips Jr. said they were necessary for the business to succeed.
“Billie’s had become the local meeting place and people have very fond memories of it,” Billie the younger said. “But I don’t think the business model they had would have survived much longer.”
New shop from East Main & Main
Food lovers can rejoice as one of the owners of East Main & Main is opening a new restaurant in Port Jefferson village.
Lisa Harris and her husband Robert Strehle opened the popular donut shop in June 2017, offering customers new flavors of donuts daily. After the success of the donut shop, Harris is ready to take on a new solo venture, a restaurant that offers brunch, lunch, dinner and shareable appetizers.
“It’s always been my dream to own a restaurant and run a restaurant,” Lisa Harris said. “It just seemed like the natural next step — it seemed like it was something that we were ready to take a chance.”
The new restaurant is slated to open around the end of February on Main Street. Harris said she plans for the space to have a casual comfortable vibe.
“We didn’t have to do any building, any construction, or anything like that,” Harris noted. “We were very lucky because the restaurant there had pretty much everything we needed, it was just something we had to make our own by changing the color scheme and doing a lot of cleaning.”
Harris plans on having some crossover between the staff at the donut shop and the new restaurant, but she is also looking to hire a full-time crew.
“So we will be creating some new jobs,” Harris said. “Probably seven to 10 new jobs will be created in Port Jefferson, which will be great.”
While rumors have been making their rounds that East Main & Main is closing, Harris assures that’s not the case.
“We’re not moving the donut shop,” Harris said. “The donut shop is staying right where it is.”
And if donuts are more your thing, don’t worry, as Harris insists her and her husband are open to the idea of opening up another space somewhere else if the right opportunity comes along.
“It’s finding the right spot is always a challenge,” Harris said. “We’re kind of so spoiled here because of the foot traffic that we get. It’s just always exciting and fun, so we’re looking for a spot that is very similar to Port Jeff and there aren’t a lot of towns like Port Jeff.”
Origin of Era
A new clothing shop that just opened Jan. 26 in Chandler Square is looking to attract women of all shapes and sizes with a fashion-forward, inclusive ideal.
Renee Goldfarb, the owner of Origin of Era, is a Long Island native but has spent much of her life living in Queens and Brooklyn and abroad while working in the fashion industry.
“I worked in film and fashion for 15 years — moved abroad and worked in Prague and Berlin. I worked in two corporations in branding, but I didn’t want to make money for anyone else anymore, I wanted to do it for myself,” she said.
The owner opened and operated another store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for several years before she and her husband bought a home in Amityville Harbor. When coming to Long Island Goldfarb wanted to find a town that had the same sense of community she originally felt in that city neighborhood. Her selection was between Babylon village and Port Jeff village, but she chose the latter because she said the elected officials had small businesses in mind, especially with events like the annual Charles Dickens Festival.
While she said her previous store focused on vintage clothing, her new shop emphasizes the modern. In terms of her clothing selection, Goldfarb supplies sizes from extra small to extra-large, and offers free alterations to any items purchased in the store. The brand selection encompasses companies from the U.S., Spain, the U.K., India and China, though she stressed she only selected ethically produced clothing.
Most important in her selection, she said, was the emphasis on getting clothing only designed by women.
“If I owned a woman’s store I would make sure we represented all women and made it inclusive,” Goldfarb siad. “That’s why I wanted to make sure we only carried female designers … If we think logically, we are catering to women, nobody knows women best but a woman.”