Tags Posts tagged with "Port Jefferson Village"

Port Jefferson Village

Port Jefferson Village’s second annual Heritage Weekend is fast approaching. The event features more than 15 cultural and historical locations for residents and visitors to explore on Saturday, Aug. 20 and Sunday, Aug. 21. Each stop is set to include presentations with interesting information, historical photos of the village that used to be known as Drowned Meadow, as well as fun, interactive activities.

The Port Times Record will preview each of the featured locations around the village leading up to Heritage Weekend. This week includes a look at the attractions that will be take place at the Port Jefferson Historical Society’s Mather House Museum, Port Jefferson Free Library, Belle Terre Community Center and Antique Costume & Prop Rental by Nan during the weekend.

For part one of the series click here and for part two click here.

Mather House Museum

The museum will be open the Saturday and Sunday of Heritage Weekend from noon to 4 p.m. for guided tours of the 1840s home turned museum of shipbuilder John Mather. This year’s exhibit, Hats Off to Port Jefferson, will feature styles of hats dating back to the 1700s, including a helmet that belonged to community member Earl L. Vandermeulen during World War I.

“We’re very happy to share this with the community,” museum curator Laura Warren said.

The museum will also feature a “clock building,” with more than 200 antique clocks. In addition, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, members of the clock guild will hold appraisals to assess the value of clocks brought in by visitors.

“I’m looking forward to bringing more people to our museum,” Warren said. “It’s the best-kept secret in town.”

Port Jefferson Free Library

The historic front doors to the original Port Jefferson Free Library will be open and visitors will be greeted by Friends of the Port Jefferson Free Library volunteers upon entering on Saturday. Explore the historic reference desk and view paintings by local artist Leon Foster Jones. Children can enjoy period activities and stories on the front lawn. Story times will be held at 1:30 and 3 p.m. A lemonade stand and refreshments, sponsored by the Friends, will be on the Library’s lawn.

At 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Friends of the Port Jefferson Free Library will also host guided walking tours of the Port Jefferson area. No registration is required. Meet at the Library’s main doors on East Main Street. The 30 points of interest on the tour will begin on Thompson Street, up along High Street and down Prospect Street, returning back to the Library via East Main Street.

Beginning at noon, take part in a geocache hunt around the village. Geocaches have been hidden at different historical sites around Port Jefferson. Stop by the Library for your “Past-Port” Field Guide on how to use your phone to track down each cache.

Belle Terre Community Center

Belle Terre Village Historian John Hiz will give a presentation at the Community Center during the weekend about the history of Belle Terre. From its past as Mount Misery in the early 1700s, to the Strong family’s ownership of the village, which became known as Oakwood during that time, to Dean Alvord’s construction of the village into the contours of the land, Hiz, will provide in-depth facts about the history of Belle Terre.

“I think I’m always excited about people coming and learning the history, not only about Belle Terre, but also about Port Jefferson,” he said. Hiz said he is looking forward to the weekend as a whole. “Opening it up and allowing each individual participant to talk about their unique history — that brings everything together.”

Antique Costumes & Prop Rental by Nan

Nancy Altman Guzzetta has been in business in Port Jefferson since the 1970s. Her antique costume shop will be outfitting models and actors at nearly all of the Heritage Weekend stops. Culper Spy Ring re-enactors at the Village Center, both patriots and redcoats, will be adorned in Nan’s costumes. Children and adults will be dressed in 18th century clothing at the Drowned Meadow Museum and in 17th century attire at the Chamber of Commerce. Waiters and customers will be at Grammas’ in outfits provided by the shop.

“I think it’s much more meaningful,” she said about incorporating elaborate costumes as part of the weekend festivities. “It helps make history come alive.”

At the shop, different props and costumes will be available for photo opportunities along with light refreshments.

Port Jefferson Village’s second annual Heritage Weekend is fast approaching. The event features more than 15 cultural and historical locations for residents and visitors to explore on Saturday, Aug. 20, and Sunday, Aug. 21. Each stop is set to include presentations with interesting information, historical photos of the village that used to be known as Drowned Meadow, as well as fun, interactive activities.

The Port Times Record will preview each of the featured locations around the village leading up to Heritage Weekend. This week includes a look at the attractions that will be take place at the Village Center during the weekend. If you missed part one, click here.

Historic recreation photo exhibit

At the Village Center, an exhibit featuring vintage photos featuring the fun of bygone summers will be on display. The exhibit, called Not Just Child’s Play — Rewinding Our Pastimes, depicts what Port Jefferson was like as a tourist attraction, weekend getaway spot and community staple nearly 100 years ago. Costumed actors will be present amid the exhibit and on the beach at Harborfront Park outside of the Village Center dressed in vintage swimming attire.

Sue Orifici, who handles graphic design for the Village Center, and Village Historian Chris Ryon each spoke about what to expect from the exhibit.

“It’s just going to be another [chance] to go back in time where you can show your children what it was like to be young in those days,” Orifici said. “That visual is something that people need. It’s more than just telling them.”

Ryon said he hopes the exhibit will dispel some common misconceptions.

“People had fun a long time ago and I don’t now if everybody thinks that,” he said. “We want to show that people did relax. They weren’t working constantly. They weren’t all dying of small pox.”

Orifici said there remains many similarities between the village as it was then and now.

“People love to come to Port Jeff because they can walk around,” she said. “You didn’t have to have a car to get around because everything is walking distance.”

Model A Ford Club of Long Island

Vintage Model A Fords built between 1929 and 1931 will be visible all over the village during Heritage Weekend. The car club will be stationed at the Village Center and the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce for a majority of the weekend, though club member Jon Reiff said the group will circulate around the area to show off their cool rides.

“They’re not museum pieces — we do drive them on a regular basis,” he said.

The club is also planning to head to Belle Terre Village during the weekend for a photo opportunity. Reiff said he expects at least 10 vintage Fords to be on display throughout the weekend, but depending on weather, there could be a fleet of Model A’s flooding Port Jefferson streets for Heritage Weekend.

Liberty Balloon Company

The Liberty Balloon Company will be supplying a 60-by-60-foot hot air balloon to be stationed at the Village Center on Saturday. Carroll Teitsworth, a pilot from the company, will be sending a representative to conduct an educational presentation about the science behind the balloons and what makes them fly through the air.

The exhibition will address the history of ballooning as a means of transportation and the impact weather has on traveling by a balloon-suspended basket.

The display will be followed by a live demonstration featuring the inflated balloon in action.

Billy Mauff races his No. 5 Superboat boat. Photo from WHM Motorsports

By Joseph Wolkin

A Port Jefferson native tried to bring a high-speed boat race to his hometown, but concerns about logistics sank the plan before it could leave the dock.

The Port Jefferson Super Boat Grand Prix, an event that would have featured 25 to 30 speed boats racing through the Long Island Sound near Port Jefferson Harbor during the second week of September, will not take place after their sanctioning body, Super Boat International, couldn’t get approval for the event from town or village officials. SBI has held races across the United States, including in Patchogue in years past.

“It’s not because I don’t like boats or any of these other reasons that I don’t want to help my merchants or boost our economic development. It’s strictly public safety.” —Margot Garant

According to a Facebook post from Billy Mauff, a Port Jefferson native and the driving force behind the proposed race, the contest was removed from SBI’s schedule due to opposition from Port Jefferson Village Mayor Margot Garant and Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point). Mauff is an owner and drives for WHM Motorsports.

“It has always been a goal of mine to bring the sport that I love so much to my hometown, with all of the positive attributes that come along with it … including the local and national exposure that the racing will bring to the community as well as the substantial economic impact that the event would have on the Village of Port Jefferson and the surrounding areas,” Mauff said in the June 21 post on WHM Motorsports’ Facebook page.

Garant addressed her concerns about the event in a phone interview Aug. 1.

“We can barely handle Pokémon right now,” Garant said. “As much as we were thankful for them thinking of us to put us on the map for economic development, we only have 600 parking spaces here. When you’re taking away the main parking lot in the Town of Brookhaven … where is everybody parking? When you look at the things we struggle with on a daily basis on an average day in the height on the summer, it’s not attainable for us.”

Bonner declined to comment on the event.

Garant’s version of events leading up to the nixing of the race differs from Mauff’s. The Mayor hesitated to call what occurred a cancelation of the event, because village or town officials never approved it.

“[Mauff] took it upon himself to tell his organization that Port Jefferson would be  fantastic,” Garant said. “He came to see us in March and apparently, the organization he represented already advertised that it was happening without meeting with the Village of Port Jefferson, the fire departments and then, I sent him to the Town of Brookhaven because I don’t own the water. He was looking at staging this in the Town of Brookhaven parking lot, which is right across the street and a vital parking lot for us. He had this whole plan, but thing is, he failed to scope out the whole plan with all of us.”

Mauff said he began the process of obtaining all necessary permits in Nov. 2015. Barbara Ransome, director of operations for the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said she has correspondence dating back to March with Mauff and other organizers of the event. According to Ransome, on Feb. 22, the Chamber of Commerce supported the race and sent a letter to the Village the Port Jefferson village business district, Mauff and his wife, June Connolly. Mauff said he also met with Bonner in May.

Connolly said Mauff and SBI had a plan to run buses to and from the area to Cedar Beach to ease traffic. She said officials quickly shot down the plan. Mauff was also in contact with the United States Coast Guard in an effort to secure a permit.

“I cannot express how deeply disappointed we are in the shortsightedness of Mayor Garant and Councilwoman Bonner as well as the Town of Brookhaven in allowing their complacency, fears, personal and political differences and interests and/or biases to defeat the race without, at least, giving us the opportunity to have the race voted upon by the public, the constituents they purportedly represent, before using political influences to block an event that they do not support,” Mauff said.

The proposed race would have followed this track. Politicians opposed the race for safety and congestion reasons. Photo from SBI
The proposed race would have followed this track. Politicians opposed the race for safety and congestion reasons. Photo from SBI

SBI’s races tend to draw crowds in the thousands, according to the organization’s website.

Mauff listed more than 40 businesses in his statement that he claims supported the event.

“He said he’ll have buses, but where are you going to put the buses,” Garant said. “How are the buses going to get on the hills. It’s not because I don’t like boats or any of these other reasons that I don’t want to help my merchants or boost our economic development. It’s strictly public safety.”

The historic Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum is open to the public. Photo by Wenhao Ma

By Wenhao Ma

Port Jefferson history buffs got a sneak peak back in time at an event July 21, which previewed new additions at one of the village’s most historic sites.

The exhibits on display at the historic Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum were revealed for those in attendance at the special event. The museum contains artifacts, including a handwritten letter legitimizing the involvement of Port Jefferson in George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring during the Revolutionary War.

The historic Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum is open to the public with some added attractions. Photo by Wenhao Ma
The historic Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum is open to the public with some added attractions. Photo by Wenhao Ma

The museum was first opened in 2011, though it was closed shortly after. The re­opening of the house in 2015 was tied to the discovery of the letter, which is displayed at the museum and was written in 1780 by Loyalist solider Nehemiah Marks. The July 21 event also debuted the museum’s second floor, which had never previously been safe for occupancy, according to Georgette Grier-Key, village historian and curator of the house. She described the new addition as a “peek-a-boo deck” because visitors of the second floor can see some of the house’s exposed architecture, in addition to more exhibits that demonstrate the house’s history.

“It’s very significant to our shared American history,” Grier­-Key said of the museum. “It’s a surviving Revolutionary War structure circa 1755.”

The house belonged to Philips Roe. He and his brother, Nathaniel Roe, according to the letter, were providing intelligence and supplies to Washington’s army.

The house, located today at West Broadway and Barnum Avenue across from Port Jefferson Harbor, has been moved several times during its history. The most recent move took place in 2008 when the house was restored and made into a museum with the help of Robert Sisler, Port Jefferson’s first historian who passed away earlier this month.

“It’s very significant to our shared American history…it’s a surviving Revolutionary War structure circa 1755.” —Georgette Grier-Key

A foundation had to be built under the house to raise it high above the ground because the house is in a floodplain, according to Jim Szakmary, who has been assisting Grier­-Key in setting up the museum. Szakmary also said the house is so old that when restoring it they had to use steel rods that went all the way from the roof to the cement foundation to secure it.

Szakmary said private collectors and other museums donated or lent their collections to the Drowned Meadow Cottage museum in advance of the re-opening July 21.

“With the significance of the Culper Spy Ring,” said Mayor Margot Garant, who attended and spoke during the event, “it’s really mind-blowing to actually be standing in the house.”

by -
0 634
The Eckford Base Ball Club is set to play a game with rules from 1864 during Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village

By Rebecca Anzel

Port Jefferson Village’s second annual Heritage Weekend is fast approaching. The event features more than 15 cultural and historical locations for residents and visitors to explore on Saturday, Aug. 20, and Sunday Aug. 21. Each stop is set to include presentations with interesting information, historical photos of Drowned Meadow, as the village was previously known, and fun, interactive activities.

The Port Times Record will preview each of the featured locations around the village leading up to Heritage Weekend. This week includes a look at the pop-up exhibit of community favorite Grammas’ Sweets restaurant; an old-time baseball game at the chamber of commerce; a photograph exhibit and tour of Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum; and a historic schooner available for attendees to explore.

Grammas’ Sweets

Grammas’ original neon sign is being re-created by craftsmen for Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village
Grammas’ original neon sign is being re-created by craftsmen for Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village

The Home Art Gallery on Main Street will soon transform into a pop-up exhibit of cherished town restaurant Grammas’ Sweets.

Jill Russell, Port Jefferson Village media relations and marketing consultant, is the weekend’s chairperson and the woman in charge of the event. She said the right side of the space will be transformed into a re-creation of what Grammas’ looked like, complete with a checkered floor, candy cases and a soda bar.

The left, occupying what now is a gallery space, will be a timeline that tells the story of Grammas’ through photography, stories and anecdotes. There will be soda jerks behind the counter showing off old menus and display cases containing vintage candy around the space.

“What’s really going to get everybody’s attention is the re-creation on the right side,” Russell said. “But for me, the stuff on the left is going to be very, very fascinating. I just love the entire exhibit — I really do — for different reasons, and I think others will too.”

Despite rumors of Grammas’ original sign being used in the space, Russell said it was destroyed. Instead, she is working with craftsmen to create a new sign that will fit over the Home Art Gallery’s. It will be based on a photograph Russell found of the original neon sign.

Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce

The Eckford Base Ball Club is set to play a game with rules from 1864 during Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village
The Eckford Base Ball Club is set to play a game with rules from 1864 during Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce is hosting two attractions sure to draw in a crowd. Parked in front of the building on West Broadway will be several Model A Ford Club of America cars, which Chamber Director of Operations Barbara Ransome said will hopefully bring visitors inside the building, which was constructed in 1682.

The historic building, called Roe House, has ties to the Culper Spy Ring. Descendants of John Roe helped get information to General George Washington to help win the Revolutionary War.

Outside will be a vintage 9-inning baseball game played by rules used in 1864. The umpires will be operating using rules from that time, which Ransome said are “totally different from what we do today.” Village residents will be competing against players from Eckford Base Ball Club of Brooklyn — both teams wearing 19th century uniforms. A quick presentation will precede the game and the Chamber will be giving out ices.

Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum

The Lettie G. Howard schooner, one of the last vessels of its kind in existence, will be available for attendees of Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village
The Lettie G. Howard schooner, one of the last vessels of its kind in existence, will be available for attendees of Heritage Weekend. Photo from Port Jeff Village

Down the road from the Chamber, on the corner of Barnum and West Broadway, sits Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum. Constructed around 1765, the building is named after the area’s original name.

Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, its historian and curator, will have two exhibits ready for Heritage Weekend. The first is called “History Squared,” where artists will use village archives to create artwork with various mediums on a 12×12 inch square. The second, called “Patriots’ Stand” will feature 28 rare prints from the American Revolution. Artifacts from Drowned Meadow will also be exhibited and tours of the building will be offered.

“This event is so exciting because it’s a way to celebrate our role in our nation’s independence,” Grier-Key said. “We take a lot of pride in this crowning jewel for Port Jefferson.”

Historic schooner

A national historic landmark schooner will be docked along the water. The craft, the Lettie G. Howard, was built in 1893 as a commercial fishing vessel and is one of the last vessels of its kind in existence. It will be representing Port Jefferson’s rich heritage of shipbuilding and be open to the public all weekend. Guides will be onboard to share the history of the boat and the village’s relationship with building such crafts.

by -
0 641
Former Port Jeff Village Historian Robert Sisler leaves behind a lasting impact. File Photo

By Wenhao Ma

Port Jefferson Village mourned the death of its first historian and a proud, devoted community member earlier this month. Robert Sisler died July 2 at the age of 88.

Sisler was a Spanish teacher at Port Jefferson High School from 1953 to 1984 and headed the school’s Foreign Language and Reading departments. He served as a member and eventually became the chairman of the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals. He was also the chairman of the Harbor Committee, a village trustee and the deputy mayor in addition to being the first historian of the village.

“[Sisler] was a constant lover of the village…his love turned into action.” —Nomi Solo

“He was an integral and driving force for exploring, recording and documenting our local history,” Mayor Margot Garant said in an email. “His writings and lifelong work of preserving Port Jefferson will ensure that our children for generations to come will learn about our ship-building heritage, our car-building years and our influence and impact in the American Revolution.”

As a historian, Sisler wrote several books on the early years of Port Jefferson. Topics included shipbuilding, automobile manufacturing, moral ethics, the development of radio and television at RCA Radio Central in Rocky Point and other historical articles for TBR News Media.

Jack Smith, historian from the Cumsewogue Historical Society, shared an anecdote about one of his experiences with Sisler. He said he read an article on an automobile factory in Port Jefferson about eight years ago. He then contacted the author, who was Sisler, hoping to invite him to the society’s annual Heritage Day, which is meant to celebrate the history of the community, to give a group of fourth-graders a lecture. Sisler agreed.

“He was always willing to share,” Smith said. He recalled on that day Sisler didn’t just come talk to the kids about the factory, but brought his own old car. “It’s a very generous thing,” he said.

The historical society once received a unit brick from Sisler as donation, according to Smith. The unit brick is different from normal bricks because it’s shaped like the letter “U.”

“We always had a nice relationship,” Smith said. “He’s a very nice man … he knew so many different things about Port Jefferson.”

Sisler’s most recent contribution to Port Jefferson was the restoration of the two centuries-old Roe houses, named for the family of the first settlers in downtown Port Jefferson, according to the village’s historical society. The original owner, businessman Phillip Roe, used his resources to help George Washington pass information in the Culper Spy Ring during the Revolutionary War.

The reason for Sisler to restore historical sites, according to Nomi Solo, who said she had known Sisler since the 1970s, was because it’s better for people to experience the history themselves than to look at the remaining pieces in a museum.

“He was a constant lover of the village,” Solo said. She added that Sisler was instrumental in the construction of the Village Center.

“His love turned into action,” she said. “He was a very, very, very caring individual. It’s a loss for the community.”

Author R.J. Torbert, left, talks about his new book with John Valeri of The Hartford Book Examiner. Photo by Wenhao Ma

By Wenhao Ma

The story of a Port Jefferson murderer — albeit a fictional one — was discussed at length by a novelist and his fans in the village on Saturday.

Author R.J. Torbert brought his new book “No Mercy,” which was released in June, to a question-and-answer session with more than a dozen readers at Port Jefferson Free Library on July 16. “No Mercy” continues the story of fictitious Detectives Paul Powers and Bud Johnson of Port Jefferson, who dealt with the mysterious murderer Ghost Face, in Torbert’s first novel, “The Face of Fear,” which was released in 2013.

“He turned [the Ghost Face mask] into a home town classic.” —Joseph Borozny

“When [readers] look at the cover, they think it’s a horror story,” Torbert said in an interview after the event, referring to the Ghost Face mask on the cover. “[But] this is a relationship story, a love story,” he said.

Torbert is the licensing director of Fun Wold, a Halloween costume company. His company created the Ghost Face as part of the Fantastic Faces series back in 1991.

Torbert noted that there are many differences between his books and “Scream,” the movie that made the mask famous back in the 1990s. He said that he did not design the iconic mask, but he did come up with the name Ghost Face and has been protecting its name and trademarks for years, and even fought to keep the character wearing the mask in the movies from doing anything bad enough to give too dark of a stigma.

Author R.J. Torbert poses with a fan of his newly released novel. Photo by Wenhao Ma
Author R.J. Torbert poses with a fan of his newly released novel. Photo by Wenhao Ma

“[In the first novel], the person who wore the mask was not necessarily a bad person,” Torbert said.

He said that he had always wanted to write a book, but what turned his idea into action was a novel he read on a plane. He was so disappointed with the story that he started writing on that book. What he wrote eventually became “The Face of Fear.”

“He turned [the Ghost Face mask] into a home town classic,” Joseph Borozny, a Port Jefferson resident and a fan of Torbert’s books, said, adding that Torbert used the Ghost Face character to create something that’s real, not just fictional.

Borozny brought his family to the event, including his 14-­year­-old son, Joey, who received a Ghost Face mask from Torbert as a gift. “If you like horror movies,” Joey said, “this is the guy you’ll love to meet. And he’s a real nice guy.”

After the question-and answer-portion, Torbet signed copies of the book and posed for photos with fans.

by -
0 759
Blue road signs promoting the I Love NY campaign sprung up in Port Jeff on Route 25A this month, but will be replaced with smaller ones following community outrage. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Joseph Wolkin

When they opened up their eyes, they saw the signs.

Port Jefferson Village residents were furious when a New York State agency added three highway-sized road signs on Route 25A, a state road, essentially in the middle of the night earlier in July. The signs were part of the I Love NY campaign from the Empire State Development office.

“They’re outrageously huge,” Mayor Margot Garant said. “They’re metal, they’re huge and they plopped them on the middle of our sidewalks without any notice.”

Blue road signs promoting the I Love NY campaign sprung up in Port Jeff on Route 25A this month, but will be replaced with smaller ones following community outrage. Photo by Alex Petroski
Blue road signs promoting the I Love NY campaign sprung up in Port Jeff on Route 25A this month, but will be replaced with smaller ones following community outrage. Photo by Alex Petroski

Garant, who was caught off guard by the road signs, immediately contacted the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). After she had several meetings and phone calls with state officials, the community also spoke up. After an overwhelming volume of pleas heard by state officials, the signs were removed Saturday and, according to Garant, will be replaced with significantly smaller ones in the coming weeks.

According to the mayor, community members emailed the governor’s office and requested the signs be taken down. Additionally, a Twitter campaign was created in order to showcase the town’s fury over the signs. The three styles of large, blue signs featured the slogans “Welcome to New York,” “Explore New York History,” and “Experience New York Attractions,” with prompts to visit www.iloveny.com, a site geared toward tourists visiting the state.

“Apparently, the explanation I got was it was a [New York State] project that was on a deadline and I would probably think they wanted the deadline to be around the Fourth of July since it was right before it,” Garant said. “Because it was a heavy push with little explanation, as a result all of the communities [involved] went nuts. We had no input and weren’t given any notice. We just woke up one morning and there were these massive signs.”

Chyresse Wells, a spokeswoman for the Empire State Development office acknowledged their plan to replace the signs following the backlash.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with local leaders which addresses their concerns but continues to promote the world-renowned I Love NY campaign,” she said in an emailed statement. “New York State tourism has generated a record-breaking economic impact of $102 billion across the state, supporting over 894,000 jobs and generating $8 billion in state and local taxes in 2015.”

State road signs in Port Jeff Village being taken down after community outrage. Photo by Drew Biondo
State road signs in Port Jeff Village being taken down after community outrage. Photo by Drew Biondo

Village Trustee Bruce Miller received input on the issue from parents of parochial school students at Infant Jesus Roman Catholic Church regarding the poor and deteriorating quality of signs on lower Myrtle Avenue.

While Miller said road markings have been criticized, he did not know there would be several large signs placed on Route 25A. He added that little has been done to address the problem of deterioration of existing signs, an issue he said he has presented to the board of trustees in the past.

Bruce D’Abramo, another village trustee, tweeted his satisfaction to the removal of the signs in response to the news that Montauk was having its signs downsized as well.

“Port Jefferson Village rejoiced as our NY State signs came down as well,” D’Abramo said. Montauk, East Hampton and Port Jefferson were three of several Suffolk County communities saddled with the giant signs with alleged little notice.

Reporting contributed by Alex Petroski.

by -
0 800
A rice bowl at Slurp Ramen. Photo by Lauren Fetter

By Lauren Fetter

Something good is cooking up in the neighborhood.

With summer in full swing, the owners of new local eateries are preparing for the season’s arrival, when bustling crowds and waves of tourists will make their way to downtown Port Jefferson for sights, sun and good eats.

No one knows this change of pace better than Smoke Shack Blues owner Jonathan Levine.

A former fine-dining chef in Manhattan and Las Vegas, Levine served as the head chef at Wave Seafood Kitchen in the nearby Danfords Hotel & Marina for five years before opening up his Main Street barbecue joint in April.

Though Levine had many opportunities throughout his career to open a restaurant of his own, it wasn’t until a stop in the Carolinas during a family trip to Disney World that he decided to try his hand at a different type of cooking skill: real smoking and wood-burning barbecue.

“When I came back, I started experimenting. It was just amazing,” Levine said. “Something that was old was new again, and it just made sense.”

Walking down Main Street, customers cannot miss the restaurant’s smokehouse aromas and the sound of blues music pouring out of an open window onto the street. An exposed brick interior, paired with deep reds, blues and homemade wood block tables branded with the Smoke Shack Blues logo bring a southern feel to the East Coast eatery.

Sauce selections in Smoke Shack Blues. Photo by Lauren Fetter
Sauce selections in Smoke Shack Blues. Photo by Lauren Fetter

Brisket. Ribs. Pulled pork. The restaurant’s traditional barbecue fare has customers flocking through its doors, reassuring Levine that that number will only increase over the next few months.

“We’re starting to see a lot of familiar faces, a lot of repeat customers,” Levine said. “At night during the week, that’s when we get the locals.”

In a community like Port Jefferson Village, it’s the locals that drive business year-round.

Amarilis Singh and her husband, Jiten, the owners of Local’s Cafe on East Main Street, opened their coffee shop in February to create a welcoming atmosphere for village residents and newcomers alike.

“We are locals and we love this town,” the wife said. “We wanted to have something that is from here, and at the same time it feels like you belong here.”

Despite their different backgrounds — Amarilis is from Puerto Rico and Jiten is from India — the couple’s love for coffee jump-started their business venture.

Using coffee beans from the Brooklyn location of Seattle-based Caffe Vita coffee company, the cafe serves specialty coffee drinks and small treats in a quaint shop on the street’s corner with East Broadway.

Customers quietly chat at wooden tables and chairs with steaming cups of coffee and hot chocolate in their hands. Fluorescent lights in the glass case next to the registers shine down on the dozens of macarons and miniature cupcakes made by local bakers sitting on the shelves.

All items on the menu are made in-house and made-to-order, with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options available for no extra charge.

Though Amarilis Singh said she is looking forward to the summer season and the rush of customers, the fear of disappointing them remains in the back of her mind.

Cookies at Local's Cafe. Photo by Lauren Fetter
Cookies at Local’s Cafe. Photo by Lauren Fetter

“You want everybody to like your food, and you want everybody to have a good experience in your place,” Singh said. “You don’t want anybody to leave unhappy.”

Just a short walk from Local’s is Slurp Ramen. Located on Broadway, the Japanese restaurant focuses on serving “authentic Japanese ramen in a comfortable, friendly environment,” according to owner and village resident Francesca Nakagawa.

Opened in March, Nakagawa’s husband, Atsushi, who is originally from Osaka, Japan, previously worked in the kitchen at Toast Coffeehouse on East Main Street for three years before he and his wife decided to open their own restaurant.

The couple wanted to highlight and bring Japanese culture and cuisine to the village by hiring students from Japanese language classes at Suffolk County Community College and Stony Brook University to work there.

“Now it’s expanded out to kids who are really into Japan and like anime and manga, or who want to travel there,” Nakagawa said. “We have a great group of people who are excited about this restaurant.”

Workers welcome customers when they come through the doors of the ramen shop, eager to help first-timers walk through their menu of what Nakagawa calls Japanese comfort food and answer any questions.

Though the restaurant serves rice bowls filled with white rice, meat and sriracha, and salads topped with cold ramen noodles and mixed greens, the Slurp Classic, a ramen noodle bowl, is the most popular dish. Overflowing with bright green scallions, red ginger and different meats, the Classic is served in deep black bowls filled with steaming broth. Pair it with a honeydew cream soda imported from Japan, and a customer is ready to go.

“It’s so exciting to watch people try it and like it,” Nakagawa said. “We’re very excited for the summer.”

by -
1 725
The improved Port Jefferson Village website includes new features like paying parking tickets online. Image from village website

Port Jefferson Village is now accessible to residents and visitors in ways it never was before.

The village launched its upgraded website in June after countless hours of research, planning and development, and at this point the hard work seems to have paid off and then some.

“We just really wanted a much more vibrant [site], something that gives off the vibe of the village and we also felt that there was not a place where residents could get information that they really needed,” Mayor Margot Garant said in an interview last week.

A view of the website from a mobile device. Image from village website
A view of the website from a mobile device. Image from village website

Village officials interviewed half a dozen companies, Garant approximated, before settling on a collaboration between two that just happened to operate out of the same building on Main Street. The project cost the village about $40,000 all told, Garant said.

Kendra Beavis of Moka Graphics and Drew Linsalata of The Gotham Bus Company put their heads together to handle the data and design of the site. Garant said during the process she realized how much of an advantage it would be to have people who work right in the village working on a site that would serve as a gateway to Port Jefferson.

“We wanted a nice hometown look — they get us,” Garant said.

The new site has features tailored to residents. Information about recycling bins, leaf pickup, birth and death certificates, along with the ability to sign up for recreational events or pay for parking or even parking tickets were some of the highlights Garant mentioned which should serve to improve the residents overall web experience.

Though the list is much longer.

Garant said the village essentially crowdsourced ideas by asking various departments what they most frequently receive phone calls about on a daily basis. Now, most answers are a click away.

Another component had village employees like Jill Russell, who handles media relations for Port Jefferson, enthusiastic about the upgraded site’s features for visitors.

“I think one of the things that I really pushed with the site, the missing link was the visitors’ side,” Russell said in a phone interview Wednesday. Visitors can now get a feel for restaurants in the area, activities and other events before they even arrive in the village.

“I, for one, am very excited,” Russell said.

Garant and Russell both expressed excitement about another possibility that is still in the works for the site — information for prospective business owners about requirements and permits for opening a business, and eventually even listings of available spaces.

The site is not complete as more information and features are still being added.

Check out the new village website at portjeff.com on desktops or mobile devices.

Social

9,205FansLike
0FollowersFollow
1,116FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe