Authors Posts by Julianne Mosher

Julianne Mosher

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Julianne Mosher is editor of The Port Times Record, The Village Beacon Record and The Times of Middle Country. A resident of Port Jefferson, you can usually find her at a local coffee shop. Tips? Please send to [email protected]

Photo from Facebook/Kevin Wood
Event will feature canine aquatic competitions hosted by Dock Dogs

By Julianne Mosher

The Village of Port Jefferson is bringing a new meaning to the dog days of summer.

The Port Paws Dog Festival is gearing up for  this weekend and it’s going to be dog-gone fun.

Festival organizer Kevin Wood with his dog Brody. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Kevin Wood, economic development director for the village and chair of the event, said the event will bring not only lots of business to Port Jeff, but also is an excuse to show some friendly competition for one furry friend to another. “The Dock Dogs competition is open to everyone,” he said while standing next to his 18-month-old English creme retriever, Brody. 

The dogs go tail-to-tail in different exercises — the biggest being retrieving a lure fastest in a 30,000-gallon pool that will be set up at Joe Erland Field, on Caroline Avenue, near the new Barnum Avenue parking lot. 

Wood said he first saw the competition while visiting the East End of Long Island, and soon realized he needed to bring it Down Port. “Port Jefferson is a dog-loving town,” he said. 

The Wood family always had small, lap dogs who they loved — but when they adopted Brody, who loves the water, he thought it would be fun to see how he, and all the other local dogs, would do in a friendly competition. 

“No municipality has done this before,” Wood said. “I wanted to bring it to the next level and bring it to the village.”

Presented by King O’Rourke Auto Group, the three-day event starts on Friday, July 22 with a mini event for non-competitors — a trial event for dogs willing to give it a shot. Dog owners interested in signing up can do so that day for a $20 registration fee, with the event beginning at 5 p.m.

On Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., dogs from all over Long Island, and even some flying in internationally, will complete on who can jump the highest, swim the furthest and retrieve a toy in the pool the fastest after jumping and diving off of a dock, to be built on the field, and into the giant pool. 

The inaugural jump will be dedicated to Aida Ramonez, an 11-year-old Port Jefferson resident who passed away earlier this year. She was an avid animal lover who would have loved an event like this, Wood said. 

Throughout the show, Dock Dogs will present the Big Air Wave competition accompanied by an Extreme Vertical and Speed Retrieve competition for both competitors and spectators to enjoy. The Big Air competition features dogs running down a 40’ dock and diving into a pool of water after an object, in which they are electronically judged for the length of their jump. 

The Extreme Vertical competition is a “high jump” for the dogs as they each lunge to snag a “bumper” suspended in the air. With each grab, the height increases in two-inch increments until only one dog is crowned king. 

Rounding out the action is the newest form of competition known as Speed Retrieve — where the dogs are put on the clock to see how fast they can run down the dock, jump into the water, swim to the end of the pool and retrieve an object which is held by a modified extender arm.

The competitions are open to any and everyone. Teams are made up of one dog and one handler. Your canine must be six months or older to be eligible. Canines of any breed, size or shape are welcomed. Not only is the competition open to all types of canines, but also handlers above the age of seven are welcomed. There is even a “Youth Handler” class for those who are between the ages of seven to 14. 

But Wood said that the weekend-long event won’t just be for games — they decided to turn it into a full-blown festival with dozens of dog-centric vendors, rescues, trainers and some food trucks for their human companions. 

“This is the first time in a long time that something attractive will be at this field,” Wood said, noting that he first brought the idea to the village more than eight months ago before it was officially voted on. 

Mayor Margot Garant, who has a furry friend named Wyatt who will be in attendance, said that the village is excited to host this family event.

“Our dogs are integral members of our family and should be celebrated as such,” she said. “I can’t wait to see everyone there and to enjoy the comradery and competition.”

Tickets are $10 for entry, while children under 12 and dogs are free. Proceeds from the event will help fund the Port Jefferson Harbor Education and Arts Conservancy, with hope to bring new drinking fountains (for humans and dogs) to different locations around the village. 

Wood added that the event will be livestreamed on Facebook, and shuttle buses will be circling all of the parking lots to help bring people to the event. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit portpawsdogfest.com. 

Theresa Livingston outside of Harbor Square Mall, where her new Bar Method studio will soon open. Photo by Julianne Mosher

By Julianne Mosher

Something new is heading into Port Jefferson village.

The Bar Method, a workout studio that was designed with high repetition and low impact resistance training, is officially set to open its third Long Island location right in Port Jefferson. 

Theresa Livingston, the franchise owner, said she fell in love with barre almost a decade ago, but during the COVID-19 pandemic realized she wanted to bring this method close to home. 

“As I got older, my joints really started to hurt and it just wasn’t maintainable anymore,” the Selden mom said. “I was looking for something that’s easy on the body and I found barre. It just works.”

Livingston said that in barre practice, one matches the working in the muscle to stretching where you lengthen and strengthen.“It’s just something you can do forever,” she said. 

The Bar Method is all about educating our students, how they can be in tune with their body.

— Theresa Livingston

During the pandemic, Livingston said she started trying The Bar Method through their online classes and she knew it was the right fit. 

Compared to other barre studios, instructors for The Bar Method have “hours and hours” of training, Livingston said. 

“We work with personal trainers, we’re taught proper alignment and modifications, and then we work in the studio to train for months before becoming an instructor,” she added. 

According to the company’s website, The Bar Method exercises also include elements of Pilates, yoga and other strength training workouts fused into a ballet-inspired barre workout. 

But Livingston said one doesn’t necessarily have to have a dance background to succeed and see results. 

“The choreography that we do is easy to follow,” she said, “We have so many different props and equipment that you can use to help and bars in the room or different heights. So, everything can be modified.”

While Livingston was practicing online, she also traveled to The Bar Method’s only two other locations on Long Island — Huntington and Roslyn.

The commutes were long, so she said, “Let’s get one closer to us.”

“I just thought I thought the village would be the perfect spot for this,” she said. “It’s such a community. People live here, they shop here and they want to stay here. So, I just felt like it would be great to have The Bar Method here.”

Livingston signed her franchise agreement in September and officially locked in the space inside Harbor Square Mall at the end of October. 

Located right on Main Street, The Bar Method is planned to take over the back part of the mall with its own entrance right next to PJ Lobster House. Livingston said that when a student walks in, the plan includes a big, open lobby featuring different apparel and retail. Inside, the studio space will have roughly 30 bar spots along with a locker room, makeup area and showers.

Livingston is anticipating a summer opening and for now is looking to get the word out about the method and what it’s all about.

“The Bar Method is all about educating our students, how they can be in tune with their body and know what’s happening,” she said. “It’s a workout that just kind of fits whatever it is they need.”

In the interim, Livingston said that she and her instructors are planning free community lessons that will pop up around the village. 

For more updates on Port Jeff’s new workout spot, interested students can follow on Instagram @barmethodportjeffvillage.

The Port Jefferson Country Club at the edge. Photo from Village of Port Jefferson

It’s been a long and harrowing timeline of events for local officials and residents who use East Beach and the surrounding country club.

For years now, the village has been preparing for this moment, where the tennis courts and Port Jefferson Country Club have seemingly moved to the edge of the cliff overlooking the beach thanks to climate change and the ever-increasing erosion.

To the naked eye, one can see a gazebo in photos hanging by a thread. The tennis courts will be next. Eventually, if nothing is done, the club could potentially collapse into the harbor and have devastating impacts on the local environment. Over the course of several months, Mayor Margot Garant, village administrator Joe Palumbo and the village trustees have been anticipating this moment where something needs to be done now.

“We lost so much material,” Garant said. “The deck is approximately 30 feet from the bluff line … the gazebo isn’t there anymore. We’re getting very, very close to the bluff.”

Because the tennis courts are so close to the edge now, tennis at the country club had to be canceled for this season.

A view of the eroding bluff. Photo from Village of Port Jefferson

The backstory

In February, a representative from CGI Engineering, Varoujan Hagopian, presented to the board what could happen with three different options on the table: build a wall at the bottom of the bluff; renovate the building and surrounding areas upland; or do nothing at all.

Hagopian said that many clients he works with on the Eastern Seaboard are experiencing the same, or similar issues. “If you do nothing, this kind of erosion will continue,” he said. “I estimate the building will be totally damaged or gone in three to five years. I’m not trying to scare you, but these are realistic calculations.”

Hagopian added that although the building might be gone, that means it will impact the road and East Beach as a whole. The erosion won’t stop at the club.

Two weeks later at the March 3 work session, the board listened in to Garant’s presentation on the bluff, where she gave a detailed history of just how much East Beach has been through over the last decade.

The restoration project began in 2010, with engineering group GEI working on several projects that included the sea wall restoration, the west end wall extension, a ramp installation, a large jetty project and sand dredging, which was finally completed in 2021.

Garant said that the village and its surrounding beaches have seen devastating effects of different storms throughout the years, including Irene, Sandy and more recently, Isaiah back in September.

Aerial shot of Port Jefferson Country Club. Photo from Village of Port Jefferson

Finding funding

Meanwhile, Palumbo has been working with the DEC and with FEMA applications to try to get some federal funding — a feat that takes a lot of time and a lot of patience.

The East Beach Bluff Stabilization Phase I project’s DEC permit was originally filed in 2016, finally being awarded in June 2021, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ approval being obtained in September.

The DEC approved plans call for 454 linear feet of steel wall and rock revetment with tiebacks to stabilize the lower bluff and bolstering the “groin” to prevent further erosion into the roadway, according to a February presentation.

A significant expense of the entire project is the replanting of the entire flank of the hill which includes core logs, erosion control blankets, wood terracing, soil anchors and tens of thousands of native plants, including woody plants, beach and switch grasses.

The comprehensive project and detailed drawings were put out for competitive bidding. Twelve bids came in ranging from $4.8 million to $6.2 million. Funding the project will require a bond initiative, which will have an impact of increasing the typical household tax bill by approximately $147 per annum over the 15-year term if no other sources of funding are available or if no other budgetary changes are made.

The final awarded bid for the lower wall project ended up being $4.3 million. But when it comes to federal funding, the village is competing with other locations which have had their share of issues with Mother Nature.

“We were denied the application for the reimbursement of the bluff, they claimed, in short, that it was an existing condition,” Palumbo said. 

“We’re appealing that because we know it’s a preexisting condition and it’s going to be a condition that will continue to occur if our measures aren’t taken to the bluff.” 

The village has recently enlisted the assistance of Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY1), who is offering his full support to the appeal to FEMA and helping to seek other funding sources. 

Palumbo added that he has been in talks with decision makers with FEMA weekly, and has been scouring to find other types of funding that could help offset the cost.

“This is probably one of the most expensive projects any municipality on Long Island has ever had to deal with,” Garant said. “This is a severe erosion issue and it’s not going away. We might lose a lot more than we already have lost if we don’t act quickly.” 

For more information, including the plans to stabilize and restore the bluff, visit the website portjeff.com/eastbeachbluff. 

File photo

During the most recent Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees meeting, a representative from Suffolk County Police gave an update to residents about what has been happening locally and across the county with crime.

On Monday, March 7, chief of constables Fred Leute joined the officer clarifying statistics from Feb. 7 through March 7 comparing 2021 to this year. The officer noted that across Long Island, catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed, as well as car thefts.

“Please lock your cars,” Leute said. “A continual problem across Suffolk County and across New York State are people targeting residential areas, checking doorknobs on cars and taking what is inside.”

Both Leute and the officer agreed that keeping a close watch on one’s personal vehicle is important, especially if the car has a garage opener. “If you have a garage opener and they break into your car, then they have access to your home and you,” Leute said. 

The police representative added that across the county, they are seeing an uptick in people leaving their keys in a running car, allowing people easy access to the vehicle.

“Don’t leave the keys in your car,” she said. “We’re seeing an uptick in people leaving their cars running at locations such as gas stations and 7/11’s with people hopping in and going for a joy ride.”

More locally, Leute mentioned calls about vehicles illegally parking in handicap spots down Main Street, particularly in the spot on the corner next to Starbucks. 

The officer added that in the past year, there has been an uptick in general calls for service, but a decline in assaults (zero in this time period). She reported there is an active investigation on one burglary, one criminal mischief charge and one larceny that was cleared by an arrest. 

She added that ambulance calls have gone up slightly, with one overdose ambulance call during this time period. She was happy to report that motor vehicle accidents have decreased significantly from 15 to just one. 

Recent shooting

Residents at the meeting were concerned over events that occurred early Monday morning Down Port.

“We did have a shooting occur just two buildings over [from Village Hall] over by the town parking lot across from SaGhar restaurant,” the officer reported.

While details were unavailable due to the active investigation, she said that the village cameras have been instrumental in helping and that she was, “pleased to tell you we have a suspect identified and we are currently seeking that suspect.”

It’s “mamba mentality,” Cole Keating, an 11th grader at Comsewogue High School said.

Cole, who just turned 17, is on the autism spectrum. High functioning, his mom Lea Keating said that Cole might be different, but that doesn’t mean he’s not less.

The high school junior, who idolizes stars like the late Kobe Bryant and is a fan of the Knicks, always wanted to be on a team. He simply wanted to play. It was Bryant who once said mamba mentality means to be able to constantly try to be the best version of yourself.

Ever since he was little, Cole said, he loved sports — especially basketball because of his height. “I’d play with my Little Tikes basketball hoop,” he said. “I wasn’t very good — not like what I am now.”

People who are on the autism spectrum often have special interests that they become passionate about. Cole has always been into sports. Lea said that ever since he was little, he would memorize players scores and rankings. He’d watch any game he could find on TV. Funny enough, she said neither she or her husband are big sports fans. But they do have one that they cheered on every week this past season: Cole — No. 40 on the court.

Since middle school — seventh grade to be exact — all Cole wanted to do was get onto the junior varsity team. However, he never made the cut. He eventually joined an off-campus travel league two years ago created by Glen Santoro and that’s where he began to excel, learn the ropes and get out of his comfort zone. 

“Cole unfortunately didn’t make the team a couple of times in the school district and his mom said to me that he was looking for a place to play,” Santoro said.

Since it was a travel team, he told Lea and Cole, “It was going to be very intense, a lot of running and yelling,” and added, “But I was so blown away by how prepared and how serious he was … and how much he wanted to improve.”

Cole’s mom explained that, “Sports always calmed Cole down. His social skills come into play on the basketball court.” He would practice after each game, taking critiques and working hard to get it just right. “Even the little things that I yelled out during the game, he took seriously and wanted to work on,” Santoro said.

Fast forward to now.

The athlete towers at 6 feet, 3 inches tall over his teammates as he shoots and every so often scores. “He knows how to use his body well,” Santoro said. 

“He’s smart, he knows what to do and he knows his role. By using all that, he was finally able to make the school team.”

It wasn’t easy, said Comsewogue JV basketball coach Noah Buffins. “The first few rounds of tryouts, I cut him,” he said. “But what makes this story great is that he won’t stop.”

After growing and learning from Santoro and that travel team, Cole finally gained the confidence to try out one more time for the Warriors.

“I think Cole is able to show coach what he’s learned over the last couple years — what he’s learned, how he’s grown and what a great player he has become and he helped us win games over the years,” Santoro said. “He really listened.”

And in the fall of 2021, Cole tried out. Lea received a text that read just three little words, “I did it.” He followed it with, “It’s about time.” Lea screenshot the message and sent it to everyone.

“Our second game of the year was a very big game, Longwood,” Buffins said. “We put him in the game and we win the game … I was blown away. You can tell he’s got so much passion and so much love for it that nobody’s going to stop him.”

Buffins said that he is happy he was able to share these memories with Cole over the season: “That’s what it’s about … making memories.”

And the memories are great ones. 

Lea said that Cole had his first actual birthday party with his teammates, who have become his friends, just last month. The guys took him to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner and hung out together to celebrate the big 17.

“A lot of times when you’re on the autism spectrum, you think about yourself a lot and it’s hard to get outside of yourself,” she said. “So, for him to have the opportunity to have genuine real friends and to support his team, basketball has taught him all these life lessons that we’ve always tried to teach him.”

So, what’s next for this superstar? He’s gearing up to try out for the varsity team next year. The ultimate goal is when he gets to college to play for a D1 team, too.

Mamba mentality — he’s making Kobe proud.

Gov. Kathy Hochul. File photo by Julianne Mosher

After bipartisan backlash from Long Island officials, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has dropped her budget proposal that would require local governments to expand legalizing accessory apartments.

“I have heard real concerns about the proposed approach on accessory dwelling units,” Hochul said in a statement. “I understand that my colleagues in the state senate believe a different set of tools is needed, even if they agree with the goal of supporting the growth of this kind of housing.”

The plan stated that, to increase affordable housing across the state, dwellings would be allowed to convert garages, basements and backyard units as apartments. Both Democrat and Republican lawmakers from the town, county, state and federal levels all said this could hurt Long Island, and essentially eliminate single-family zoning.

“I am submitting a 30-day amendment to my budget legislation that removes requirements on localities in order to facilitate a conversation about how we build consensus around solutions,” she added.

The plan was introduced in January during the State of the State. Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) was one of the first to call the governor out on it, which then resulted in Brookhaven, Smithtown and Huntington towns to voice their concerns.

“One small victory, but many battles ahead,” Suozzi told TBR News Media in a statement. “We successfully stopped Governor Hochul’s radical proposal from being passed in the budget, but we’re not done yet. Now we must stop her and the state legislature from passing this misguided legislation during the Albany legislative session.”

Throughout the last month, these lawmakers argued that the plan could have potential impacts on Long Island’s quality of life, the environment and local school districts.

““I’m pleased that Governor Hochul pulled the Accessory Dwelling Unit legislation from the budget, but that isn’t enough,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst). “At this time, there are still discussions of tweaks to the law. Local officials on Long Island are adamantly opposed to any modifications that remove our ‘home rule.’ We know what is best for our community and we don’t need New York City and New York State dictating to us what our communities should look like. As we’ve seen with the pulling of the bill, combining our voices and speaking out ensure that we can be heard. I urge all residents to contact their State representatives and the governor’s office, to voice their opposition to any modification of ADUs here on Long Island.”

Several Suffolk County lawmakers spoke up against the ADU legislation Feb. 11 with the help of several state assembly members and senators.

“The removal of this proposal from the budget is great news for all of our communities and I am proud to have stood with my colleagues in town, county, state and federal officials from both sides of the aisle to fight to protect local control,” said state Senator Mario Mattera (R-St. James). “This shows that joining together and standing united can lead to positive change for our residents.”

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) held a press conference Feb. 3, as one of the first townships to take a stance on the issue.

“The call to remove this misguided proposal was finally heard by the governor and we will continue to maintain local zoning control,” he said in a recent statement. “Our right to home rule on issues like housing is what protects our communities from turning into the crowded neighborhoods that we see in cities, which is not what the residents of Brookhaven Town want.”

Hochul still has plans to combat the affordable housing crisis, and the emphasis on increasing accessory apartments and improving their safety will be targeted in New York City rather than the suburbs.

“Albany extremists will resurrect this terrible idea the moment bipartisan opposition gets distracted,” said Huntington Town Supervisor Ed Smyth (R). “Stay vigilant!”

Kenny Lee, PJ Lobster House’s new sushi chef, inside the restaurant. Photo by Julianne Mosher

It’s now the best of both worlds.

When Benten Fine Sushi and Japanese Cuisine in Miller Place permanently closed in October, members of the community were devastated.

A new opportunity came just this month for Kenny Lee, the former Benten owner, where he has found a new home inside Port Jefferson village’s PJ Lobster House. 

It began when the Lobster House’s owner, James Luciano, started getting tips and requests from mutual customers about Lee. 

“James had another sushi person before who left and the timing just worked out,” Lee said. “I thought it was a good opportunity.”

When the PJ Lobster House moved from Upper Port to Main Street last year, as part of the renovations came a full sushi bar that they didn’t have at their old spot. 

“It’s great to add sushi to the menu, especially with the summertime coming,” Luciano recently said. “There’s no sushi in Port Jeff.”

Luciano admitted that when the previous sushi chef was at the bar, people didn’t come to sit there and indulge. But then Lee came on board and the seats have been filled every night he’s there.

“We’re getting a lot of customers where people are asking for sushi, and then ask if Ken is working,” Luciano added.

Last March, TBR News Media reported that Benten was struggling to keep their doors open due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A GoFundMe was created to help support the sushi restaurant with hundreds of people showing their support.

Unfortunately, Lee said, the closure was inevitable.  

“It was hard finding people to work,” he said. 

Lee and his mother owned the building at 971 Route 25A in Miller Place for nearly two decades, previously owning a place in Mount Sinai for many years before that. 

Lee and his family decided it was best to close instead of dealing with the constant stress.

But the new opportunity at PJ Lobster House is special for Lee — he is a graduate of Port Jefferson high school and is happy to be back in the community.

And while it’s not a carbon copy of his menu at Benten, Lee is bringing a ton of favorites — customers who order the new PJ roll might remember it as Benten #2.

Luciano said that right now they will have sushi available Wednesday through Sunday and will offer lunch, dinner and plan to add seafood towers to the menu.

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Miller Place Superintendent Marianne Cartisano. Photo from MPSD

A beloved superintendent will be retiring from Miller Place school district, effective June 2022.

Marianne Cartisano said that the retirement has been in the works for years so she can focus on the next chapter in her life. 

“I’m going to sleep,” she joked. “I’ve been in administration for the entire 31 years of my career. So, it’ll be the first time probably, since I’m about 16 — even when having my children — that I will have an extended period of time just to do an appropriate decompression.”

She plans on spending time with her family, and will continue to mentor.

“I had spoken to the board a couple of years ago when we were planning a succession plan for Miller Place,” she added. “Mr. Lipshie has been my right-hand person for 10 years so that has made the transition a little bit easier.”

Deputy Superintendent Seth Lipshie will be taking on the role of superintendent of schools 

“I’m super excited, I’m motivated,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for me to continue my service in Miller Place.”

Lipshie said he is in his 32nd year in the district and he’s done a bit of everything while working there. From 1990 to 2001, he was a social studies teacher and in 2001 he became assistant principal at North Country Road Middle School. From 2002 to 2010 he served as principal of Miller Place High School before being appointed as assistant superintendent in 2010 and deputy superintendent in 2014. 

Deputy Superintendent Seth Lipshie. Photo from MPSD

“I’ve either hired or interviewed almost probably a good majority of the staff that now works in the workplace,” he said. “One of the things I think that I’ll bring to the table is some stability, something familiar.”

By having all this experience, Lipshie said that he has developed “some very strong ties with staff and the unions in terms of making sure that we can serve the students as best we can without any issues.”

He has also been adviser for the AV Club as well as spearheaded the Mock Trial Club. He coached soccer at both the middle school and the high school, was the varsity basketball coach for nine years and has been an umpire for high school baseball for the last 17 years.

Cartisano said that promoting Lipshie to the role of superintendent was a no-brainer — it was important to keep things consistent. 

“Having been here now 10 years, that’s a long stretch of the superintendency, especially with the last two COVID years,” she said. “It’s been so rewarding, and the work is so purposeful and meaningful — it just has been a great run.”

But Cartisano said that Lipshie is not a carbon copy of her. 

“It’s a marriage made by workplace, and we probably agree on 85% of the time,” she said. “The other 15% we don’t, and that has allowed this district to move forward because we don’t have one mindset, we have different perspectives. That’s the way we lead. It’s not that Seth is a mirror image of me nor me of him. That would not be good leadership.”

She added that there is nobody that could have been a better fit.

“This is an organization that has 500 staff members that show up every day and educate our children, we have 2,500 customers who get off buses every single day for us, and it’s important that the school district stays consistent,” Cartisano said. “We’re very excited.”

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Photo by Julianne Mosher

It was a fun-filled day for the Port Jefferson Cub Scouts.

On Sunday, Feb. 13, more than a dozen scouts and their families headed to Port Jefferson’s Village Center to watch and participate in their annual Pinewood Derby.

All the kids in Pack 41 were given a car kit where they were responsible for sanding the mini vehicle down, putting weights on it and painting it to race.

Sponsored by Nessenger 112 Automotive Group, it was a great way for the scouts to show off their creative (and competitive) sides. 

According to scoutmaster Tim McNulty, the boys had about a month to prepare for the big race — which was livestreamed by a camera attached to the track for anyone to watch.

“Last year, because of COVID, we livestreamed the event,” he said. “It was very successful. So, this year, we’re live streaming and again, and are able to have families come in-person.”

Scout Blake Welischar painted his race car with a flash symbol.

“Because I know it’s going to go fast,” he said. 

And while the competition was tough, Blake said it was a great day, nonetheless.

“My favorite thing about being here today is to see everybody else having a lot of fun,” he said. 

McNulty said that boys and girls are both encouraged to join the local Cub Scouts. Parents interested in signing their kids up can email [email protected]

“It’s a great organization,” he said. “The kids have a great time.”

Jake Sullivan won the big race with his vehicle he named, “Car.”

Although Kieran Foster’s car (a USA black and blue inspired print) didn’t win, he still loves being a part of the Cub Scouts.

“We get to learn a lot of fun new things,” he said.

A sampling of Indian food for the restaurant’s lunch special. Photo by Julianne Mosher

The Curry Club officially has a new look, now with a water view.

Previously located in Setauket at 10 Woods Corner Road, the family behind several local eateries and venues has merged two favorites into one large palace of spice. 

Indu Kaur, owner of SāGhar in Port Jefferson, said that when her family purchased the building located at 111 W. Broadway, the original plan was to eventually move The Curry Club in — but then COVID-19 happened and everything changed. 

Kulwant Wadhwa, the family’s patriarch and owner of The Curry Club, kept his location the same, and everything they had planned stalled. The Wadhwa/Kaur family devoted their time to helping first responders from Riverhead to Manhattan by feeding them good, wholesome Indian cuisine as they renovated the former Harbor Grill and Schaffer’s into SāGhar — an Indian-American fusion restaurant, with a gorgeous upstairs bar overlooking the harbor.

SāGhar, translates to “Home of the Sea.”

The family is also behind The Meadow Club in Port Jefferson Station, which reopened last year after a fire devasted the catering hall back in 2018.

“So, we kind of took the challenge,” Kaur said. “And over the last year, we became well known in the community.”

Now, nearly two years after purchasing the new Port Jefferson village spot, the dream of integrating The Curry Club into SāGhar has officially become a reality. 

“It’s all blended very well,” Kaur added. “It’s our story. We started from an authentic Indian restaurant, and now here we’re the next generation, adding a more modern fusion touch to the menu.”

And as of Tuesday, Feb. 8, The Curry Club at SāGhar was born. 

The move

Indu Kaur (far left) with father Kulwant Wadhwa and family in Port Jefferson. Photo from Kiran Wadhwa

Practically overnight, Kaur said they finalized dinner in Setauket, and after sending their customers home they moved out. 

Monday night, the family moved from the former location into the downstairs room. Wadhwa said that SāGhar has given them more space to cater to more people — roughly 75 seats upstairs, 55 in the Harbor Room up front, 35 in the Captain’s Room and 45 in the Schooner Room. The Curry Club at SāGhar is on the same lot where the famous Schooner Restaurant sat years ago. 

The lease will officially be up at the old location on May 31, and until then the family will continue to operate The Velvet Lounge adjoining the restaurant.

But the two are excited for SāGhar’s new look. According to Kaur, a lot of it will look similar but now they will offer a full buffet — just like The Curry Club was famously known for. 

“In Port Jefferson, there is nowhere where you can actually grab and go pick food, especially for nurses meaning to get out in two minutes who are only a mile away to the hospital,” she said.

She added that they will continue doing live music every weekend, and host other fun events for the community like psychic nights.

With the move came a whole renovation to their kitchen and an addition of a whole line of Halal wines — champagnes, reds and whites created with 0% alcohol. 

And Wadhwa said there is something for everyone at the “new” Curry Club.

“We’ve got vegetarian options, vegan, nonvegetarian, gluten free … we thought of everything,” he said. 

They’re also continuing their balanced lunches.

“Those are always very popular,” Kaur said. “This is a must-have.”

For just $20, the lunch portion includes eight samplings of different Indian dishes and a side of rice to try them with. It also comes with a side of naan bread for easy dipping.

Some history

Wadhwa was not always a restaurateur. In fact, the family originated in Afghanistan where he was a pharmacist. 

“A lot of things happened with our country,” Kaur said, adding that the family eventually moved to India to escape.

As his children began getting older and started to marry, Wadhwa decided that moving to America would be the best option for his family. In the early 1990s, he came to Long Island, where his brother-in-law was a chef. Together, they decided to open what was believed to be the first Indian restaurant in Suffolk County — The Curry Club. 

Wadhwa “started working in the kitchen,” Kaur said. “Dad didn’t even know how to pick up a glass of water, but now he’s running three bars.”

And just like that, he changed his career “because of family survivorship,” she said. “America has been a blessing that we were able to survive.”

The original Curry Club was actually located where Bliss is currently occupied. 

Wadhwa said that at the time the only other well-known Indian restaurant was located in Hicksville and they were worried if it would work out.

“From the day we opened the door, we got busy,” he said. “We got so busy that a line was outside — people were waiting.”

Now, nearly 30 years later, the family is excited to continue bringing flavor to the North Shore.

“We want to bring color,” Kaur said. “And spice and happiness. That’s our goal, to just serve our community and see everybody happy with food.”

The daughter-and-father duo said that they can agree seeing people happy when they leave with full bellies keeps them smiling.

“It’s good,” Wadhwa said. “It’s exciting.”