Sound Beach restaurant opens in honor of fallen firefighter

Sound Beach restaurant opens in honor of fallen firefighter

Councilwoman Jane Bonner, Supervisor Dan Panico, co-owner Eddie Spagnola and co-owner Carolyn DiBernardo Ingoglia celebrate the grand opening of the new Firehouse Restaurant and Bar. Photo courtesy Town of Brookhaven

By Sofia Febles

New York City firehouse. The space resembles the home of a firefighter — from the hook door handle when you first walk in, to the model fire trucks and family photos from first-time restaurant owner Joseph DiBernardo’s personal memorabilia. 

The building now occupied by the Firehouse has been home to a restaurant for many years. It was first called Boyle’s, then Shorty’s and for years it’s been known as the Hartlin Inn. For nearly three years, the local community has been left wondering what will take Hartlin Inn’s place. Now the DiBernardos have brought it back to life, in their late son FDNY Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo’s honor. 

The owners of the restaurant, Joe and Barbara DiBernardo opened this restaurant in memory of their son, Joey, who came from a long line of firefighters, including his dad. 

When Joey was young, he would create and play with firefighter sets. Joey would help his dad in a Brooklyn firehouse, being part of his first real fire at the age of 10. When Joey turned 18 he became a fire alarm dispatcher on Long Island. 

Joey went on to work at the World Trade Center for nearly six months in the rescue and recovery operation. He was one of the people who founded the Town of Brookhaven Technical Rescue Task Force and was one of the first team leaders. 

In 2005, he was called to an apartment fire in the Bronx — a day known as Black Sunday, when three firefighters died including Joey. 

Trapped on the top floor in a backdraft, he was forced to jump out of the window five stories above the ground. From his plunge, Joey landed in a courtyard, breaking many of his bones from the waist down, and would eventually experience respiratory arrest and then a coma. 

On Nov. 22, 2011, Joey passed away as a result of injuries sustained from his heroic efforts on Black Sunday. He was awarded the IAFF Medal of Honor, the New York City Medal of Supreme Sacrifice and the FDNY Medal of Valor. 

In 2013 the “Joey D” foundation was created by the father and Joey’s friends in honor of the fallen firefighter. The foundation provides personal safety ropes to fire departments throughout the United States. It is run strictly by volunteers, mostly Joey’s friends. The foundation’s goal is that no firefighter dies because of lack of safety ropes. Joey’s father hopes that the foundation will continue even when he is gone.

The opening of the Firehouse Restaurant & Bar for the DiBernardos was an important event in celebration of their son. “I want my customers to know and understand Joey’s story, and I want Joey to live on in perpetuity through this restaurant,” Joe said. “This restaurant is like a family, surrounded with the best people.”

On the menu is a variety of sandwiches, wraps, flatbreads, burgers and “firehouse favorites.” “The ‘big pretzel’ and meatball appetizers are guest favorites,” Joe said.

“I went for lunch with my husband two weeks ago, we found everything great,” said Ruth McDowell of Port Jefferson Station. “He had the fish and chips, I had French onion soup and a BLT. Perfect balance of everything. Even the coffee was delicious. We will be back.” 

The bar section has been refurbished beautifully and is often filled with locals who enjoy happy hour and beyond.

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