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Fort Salonga Road

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Suffolk County Police 2nd Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that killed a man in Northport July 29.

Northport resident James Cherry was driving a 2016 Subaru eastbound on Fort Salonga Road at Layne Way when his vehicle struck a man who stepped off the sidewalk in an attempt to cross the road at approximately 11:45 a.m. Sunday. 

Peter Carroll, 68 of Northport, was transported to Huntington Hospital via Northport Rescue where he was pronounced dead. Cherry, 27, of Northport, was not injured.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check. Detectives are asking anyone with information to call the 2nd Squad at 631-854-8252.

Gunther's Tap Room caught fire in May, and a fundraiser was held this week to help restore the historic bar. File photo from Photo from Chris Ciaci.

By Sara-Megan Walsh

It’s said that many hands make for light work, and if that’s true, the outpouring of community support for Gunther’s Tap Room will hopefully have it rebuilt in record time.

The uplifting refrain of “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey could be heard as dozens of Northport residents and their families attended a fundraiser Aug. 13 for Gunther’s Tap Room at the Park Lounge in Kings Park. Gunther’s has been closed since being consumed by an early-morning fire May 23.

John Weeden, owner of Park Lounge, said he hosted the $25-per-person community barbecue and extensive Chinese auction to raise money to help reopen Gunther’s Tap Room, and to financially aid its employees who have been without a job. Weeden declined to say how much was raised in total.

“I’d like to raise enough money to help them pay for whatever bills they have to reopen it. I thought it was the right thing to do.”

— John Weeden

“I’d like to raise enough money to help them pay for whatever bills they have to reopen it. I thought it was the right thing to do,” said Weeden, who worked as a bartender at Gunther’s for 13 years. “I feel [Pete Gunther] would want that bar reopened. It was his legacy.”

Peter Gunther Sr., a late Northport native and ex-chief of the Northport Fire Department, owned and operated Gunther’s Tap Room since the 1960s, according to current co-owner Brad Vassallo.

“Gunther’s is the bar of the people,” he said. “It’s been basically built amongst the patrons.”

Vassallo, who purchased Gunther’s with Eddie McGrath in 2016, said they are currently in the process of completing structural repairs to the more than 100-year-old building to make it safe and compliant with modern building codes.

“The town has been remarkable in terms of helping the process,” Vassallo said. “They and the community have been fantastic in trying to help us out — letting us do what we need to get this place reopened.”

How much it will cost to rebuild and restore the landmark bar to its former glory is still an unknown, according to Vassallo, saying that “it will be substantial.” The owners said they have run into a number of unforeseen repairs that have slowed down the process.

But several community members have stepped forward, offering donations of building supplies and skills to speed up that process. Some have offered their help to lay down new hardwood floors, and others offered to fix up the bathrooms.

“The community [has] been fantastic in trying to help us out — letting us do what we need to get this place reopened.”

— Brad Vassallo

“We are going to keep the aesthetics as similar as we can,” Vassallo said. “There will need to be some changes, but the color scheme and the way the bar was set up — we are going to keep it as close as we can to the original form.”

With Gunther’s closed for reconstruction, bartender Jani Zubkovs said it’s been difficult for him and the other employees. They’ve stayed in touch over the last few months on updates on the repairs and in trying to find other work.

“It’s an eyesore right now,” Zubkovs said. “I miss all the people, all my regulars. It’s the local Northport place where everybody knows each other.”

In an attempt to offset the financial hardship, Zubkovs has picked up bartending two nights a week at Elijah Churchill’s Public House on Fort Salonga Road in Northport.

Dozens of area businesses contributed to Sunday’s fundraiser by donating goods and services for the Chinese auction.

For those who missed the event, a GoFundMe campaign has been set up, with a goal of $75,000 to help the business reopen. Visit www.gofundme.com/gunthers-tap-room for more information or to donate to the restoration cause.

Despite the disruptions in construction, Gunther’s owners remain hopeful that beer will be flowing again within the next couple of months.

“It’s disappointing that me and Eddie just bought the place to have this kind of situation happen,” Vassallo said. “The primary reason we took it over is that we made a vow. We wanted to keep Gunther’s Tap Room as it was, as Pete Gunther made it to be. We are doing everything we can to do that.”

Ricardo Reyes-Benitez was charged with public lewdness in East Northport. Photo from SCPD.

Suffolk County Police arrested a Huntington Station man Monday, May 29 for public lewdness after he masturbated in front of a woman outside a Northport grocery store.

A customer was walking in the parking lot of Stop & Shop, located on Fort Salonga Road, when a man masturbated in front of her at 7:50 a.m.

Ricardo Reyes-Benitez, 28, of Sioux Place, was charged with public lewdness. Reyes-Benitez will be held overnight at the 2nd Precinct and arraigned on May 30 at First District Court in Central Islip.

A woman enjoys a bite at Our Table. Photo from Stacey Wohl.

Farm to table dining has become a popular trend, and one Fort Salonga spot intends to bring an even more localized experience to residents with Our Table.

Owner Stacey Wohl is recreating the space that has been known for the last year as Cause Café, a restaurant that offered jobs to young adults with cognitive and developmental disorders, such as autism. Our Table is not doing the same. Wohl said it was time for a change, and that change came in the form of Northport-native chef Michael Heinlein.

Heinlein came in as a guest chef while Wohl was still running the business as Cause Café, and brought up the idea of working together and creating an organic, healthy menu.

Stacey Wohl is trying a new venture, leaving Cause Café behind. Photo from Stacey Wohl.

Wohl loved the idea. “I eat organic, I eat healthy food and it’s very difficult if you’re trying to eat gluten free or organic to take your kids anywhere to go out to eat — there’s very few places to go,” she said. “What we’re trying to do here is offer a nightlife place where you can meet a friend or go on a date while also having a healthy meal — instead of going to health food stores to eat clean.”

Heinlein, a Northport High School graduate, said the menu is more than just farm to table because of where the company will get its ingredients.

“Everybody uses the term farm to table and I think it’s kind of overused — I think it’s more local to table than anything,” Heinlein said in an interview.

And Our Table intends to bring local products, currently getting produce from farms on Eastern Long Island, but planning to buy from the Northport Farmers Market once the season begins. All the seafood is wild caught instead of farm raised, and the beef is grass fed. Wohl said the pair also intends to offer biodynamic local wine, meaning wine with grapes that are grown organically without the use of pesticides.

Wohl said Our Table’s menu is diverse and offers something for everyone.

“Michael is very eclectic and creative, he draws from a lot of different global influences,” she said. “There’s so many flavors going off in your mouth at once — he’s just using a lot of creative foods and ingredients. It’s food that’s going to make you feel good.” Items include jumbo lump crab cakes and deconstructed chicken tamales.

Heinlein agreed he thinks people will enjoy his menu.

“It’s a good mix of the healthy grains and other ingredients, while still getting that fun fine-dining experience,” he said.

Wohl said Our Table also has an in-house pastry chef to make fresh desserts.

“You’re not coming in here and getting a frozen piece of cheesecake,” she said.

Our Table is set to launch this weekend, with hours from 5 to 10 p.m. daily and Sunday brunch. The restaurant is located at 1014 Fort Salonga Road.

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Two men were killed and one was seriously injured in the early hours of Tuesday morning, after police say one of them lost control of his car and slammed into a tree.

The Suffolk County Police Department said 26-year-old Hauppauge resident Leland Acampora crashed the Hyundai Sonata at about 4:30 a.m. while heading west on Fort Salonga Road near Makamah Road.

Both he and 26-year-old Commack resident Woody Zalman, who had been sitting in the back seat, were pronounced dead at the scene, police said. However, front seat passenger Paul Weingart, a 26-year-old from East Northport, was in serious condition at Stony Brook University Hospital, after being airlifted there by police helicopter.

Police impounded the Hyundai for a safety check.

Detectives from the SCPD’s 2nd Squad are investigating the single-car crash. Anyone with information is asked to call them at 631-854-8252.

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A 57-year-old Floral Park woman riding on the back of a motorcycle died after being ejected in a collision with an SUV in Northport on Sunday evening.

Mary Santry-Rosenvinge was driving a 2015 Toyota RAV4 east on Fort Salonga Road at about 5:35 p.m. and, as she attempted to make a left-hand turn into her driveway west of Sandy Hollow Road, her car struck a 2008 Harley Davidson motorcycle that had been traveling west, according to police.

Martha Garcia, who had been riding on the back of the bike, was pronounced dead at the hospital. James Losito, 53, the driver of the motorcycle and Garcia’s boyfriend, and Santry-Rosenvinge, a 66-year-old Northport resident, were treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Huntington Hospital, according to cops.

The vehicles were impounded for safety checks and the investigation is continuing. Detectives are asking anyone with information about this incident to contact the Second Squad at 854-8252.

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