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Bakery

Apple hand pies at Hometown Bake Shop. Photo from Danna Abrams

Pi Day will be extra sweet this year.

Hometown Bake Shop at 2 Little Neck Road in Centerport plans to open its doors on Monday, March 14, also known to math enthusiasts as Pi Day because the numerical date matches the first three digits of pi.

Northport resident Danna Abrams, 38, and Huntington’s Luigi Aloe, 42, are putting their collective business and culinary experience to use in the new shop endeavor. If they execute their vision successfully, “hometown” will not only be the name of their bakeshop, but the feel as well.

The menu will feature items made from scratch, both sweet and savory, with organic and gluten-free options and local influences.

“I’m a mom with three kids, and we all don’t have time to make everything anymore,” Abrams said in an interview at the under-construction shop on Tuesday. “We all wish we could do the slow-cooked brisket, the 20-hour pulled pork. We want that, and love that, with no preservatives and made from scratch and from someone who wants to make it and loves to make it. So that’s what [Hometown Bake Shop] is.”

The duo has been on a shared path for years, starting with graduating from Huntington High School.

Aloe also owns Black & Blue Seafood Chophouse in Huntington. He hired high school friend Abrams to be that restaurant’s pastry chef several years ago, and after some experience selling their products at farmer’s markets, the duo decided opening the new business was the next logical step.

Wrapped-up treats at Hometown Bake Shop. Photo from Danna Abrams
Wrapped-up treats at Hometown Bake Shop. Photo from Danna Abrams

Abrams’ three daughters are her inspiration, she said. Charlie, 9, loves her mom’s chicken potpie — which is Aloe’s favorite as well. Abrams’ recipe for her fudgy, chocolate brownies was perfected while she was pregnant with 5-year-old Ilan, and 3-year-old Riley loves anything with fruit in it.

“I’ve always been a foodie,” Abrams said. She holds a master’s degree in sculpture from Boston University but has worked in restaurants all of her life, including the Cold Spring Harbor Beach Club and T.K.’s Galley in Huntington. Her Italian and Jewish roots influence her cooking and passion. She said everyone jokes she must secretly be from the South, because her fried chicken and biscuits are so authentic, they couldn’t possibly come from anywhere else.

Even though Abrams said cooking comes second nature to her, this is her first time venturing into the world of entrepreneurism. That’s where Aloe comes in — he’s spent time in the food industry, owning restaurants since he was 23. Together the two have all the ingredients for success.

“Danna is very talented and she’s like the heart and soul,” Aloe said. “I think what our whole thing is here is to try to be a family-oriented place.”

Abrams has plans to dedicate a refrigerated display to local produce and dairy products, as a way of supporting local business owners’ dreams in the same way she says Aloe did for her.

“The community here is very good to the stores,” Aloe said. “They’re not into conglomerates. … Everybody’s rooting for us — that’s what we feel like in the community.”

Hometown Bake Shop’s manager, Nicole Beck Sandvik, reiterated both owners’ vision for the business.

“We want people to walk in this place and have it be like their second home,” Beck Sandvik said. “When they don’t have time to cook breakfast or make dinner, they know they can come here and get a home-cooked meal.”

Hometown Bake Shop will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Little Portion Friary is on Old Post Road in Mount Sinai. Photo by Giselle Barkley

After 35 years, Hope House Ministries is reuniting with its roots.

Earlier this year, in light of financial difficulties and a lack of manpower, the Franciscan Brothers of the Little Portion Friary on Old Post Road in Mount Sinai announced their building was closing. But this past spring, Father Francis Pizzarelli approached the brothers about acquiring part of the property, and now it can still have a future.

According to Pizzarelli, his Port Jefferson-based nonprofit Hope House Ministries began at the Little Portion Friary location, when it rented the friary’s guesthouse. The group has since grown, adding local properties such as the Pax Christi Hospitality Center on Oakland Avenue in Port Jefferson, where it shelters homeless men. Now it will return to where it all started.

Pizzarelli said the brothers were going to sell the 44-acre property to a developer who was going to build condominiums. Instead, Hope House will rent four acres of the lot — with the rent going toward the land’s purchase price — while the remaining 40 acres will go to Suffolk County. Hope House will change the facility’s name to Hope Academy at Little Portion Friary and use the building to further assist and support the people who are battling addiction.

With Long Island facing heroin addiction in particular as a widespread problem, Pizzarelli said he didn’t have enough space to help, so he first purchased an apartment house in Port Jefferson to accommodate those individuals brought in for assistance.

“What the friary is going to provide for me is greater space,” Pizzarelli said.

The young men who currently reside at the apartment house will be moved to the friary, and the additional space will give them more room to reflect and help further their treatment, the priest said.

The building required basic maintenance and renovations, including repainting the bedrooms, replacing carpets and cleaning the facility.

“When the brothers realized they had to leave, they weren’t going to spend money on a building that might have been demolished,” Pizzarelli said.

Hope House began renovating the building in September. Residents like Ann Moran of Sound Beach described the friary as a “little known secret” in the Mount Sinai area. She was pleased about the friary’s new future, saying, “I’m delighted that Hope House is taking it over and the [friary] won’t be closing.”

Pizzarelli said his neighbors were also thrilled that Hope House was preserving the friary’s nearly eight and a half decades of service to the community.

Despite the changes, one local tradition will remain — the bakery is and will still be open for business. For many years, the brothers were known locally for baking bread and have passed the baton to Hope House, which has been selling bread since October.

Pizzarelli said he kept the bakery “not so much to make money, but to basically honor the brothers and their 86 years.”

The labyrinth and chapel will also be available for community members to use.

According to the Little Portion Friary website, the friary helped serve the community through “prayer, study and work.” The brothers of the friary occasionally took in homeless people or others who simply needed a safe place to go.

The Franciscan brothers are currently in San Francisco and were not available for comment, but Pizzarelli said the brothers were also pleased to know the friary would be used for a good cause.

“The Franciscan brothers have always been supportive of this ministry and are grateful that [the] ministry will continue to give life to this holy ground.”

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Work will add parking spots, greenery near historic area

The parking lot east of Mariners Way will get a makeover. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Village officials have lined up a construction company to redo the parking lot behind the Fifth Season restaurant, recently dubbed the Baker’s Alley lot, as part of a larger project that aims to restore a downtown historical area.

The Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees hired East Moriches-based Rosemar Construction, the lower of two bidders on the work, at its meeting on Monday night. At the municipal lot by Mariners Way, the work includes repaving and striping, putting in a pedestrian walkway and adding landscaping.

In addition to the parking field east of Mariners Way, the lot includes 14 spaces in a strip on the road’s western side.

Restriping will make room for seven to eight more parking spots, Mayor Margot Garant said at the meeting.

It will also eliminate a dead end in the middle of the parking lot, improving access for public works employees when they remove snow from the village’s lots in the winter.

East Coast-based engineering firm VHB — the group that put together the construction drawings and plans for redoing the metered parking lot based on designs by Port Jefferson’s Campani and Schwarting Architects — still has to review Rosemar’s bid, which came in close to $350,000 and will be funded by village parking meter revenue.

“I’m told that this is quite a good price,” Trustee Larry LaPointe said. “VHB expected it to come in significantly higher.”

Officials are now calling the area the Baker’s Alley parking lot, making it the namesake of a nearby path the village is working to restore. Baker’s Alley was, in turn, named as a nod to Port Jefferson’s so-called bakery wars that took place there in the early 1900s, in which William West’s New England Bakery famously competed with another local shop. The feud fully erupted in 1916, when both owners changed the establishments’ names to Port Jefferson Bakery.

The now-overgrown and often overlooked dirt path starts at East Main Street, heads down to the parking lot and turns north toward East Broadway. Village officials are looking to turn the alley into a brick walkway, with classic lighting and native plants along the way. After turning north, it would run along a short stone wall as it passes between the parking lot and adjacent businesses, then connect with the small Founders Park at East Broadway.

The village has not yet received bids on the alley portion of the project, LaPointe said, but officials want to get moving on the parking lot work.

“We need to get started as quickly as possible so we don’t interfere any more than necessary with the use of that lot in the high season.”