Tags Posts tagged with "Bar"


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An inside look at what Roots has to offer. Photo by Carolyn Sackstein

By Carolyn Sackstein

The owner of Roots Kava Bar, Robert Dunn, celebrated the grand opening of Port Jefferson’s newest drinking establishment with family and friends when he opened the doors at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19. 

The enthusiastic crowd mingled about and enjoyed the cozy and comfortable seating in the kava pub’s back lounge and front self-serve area. 

Robert Dunn inside the new Roots Kava Bar in Port Jeff. Photo by Carolyn Sackstein

Most guests knew about kava, a beverage used as a replacement for alcohol. The owner wanted to create an environment where people, who do not use alcohol, could socialize over drinks and not experience the detrimental effects of alcohol. The decor is a pleasing mix of black walls, metal and wood. The serving bar is a natural plank with a live edge which echoes the natural theme of the beverages.

For the uninitiated, kava is a drink made from the root of the kava kava plant (Piper methysticum) which originates in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific islands. 

Kava is touted to alleviate stress, help with chronic pain, boost mood, increase energy and focus. The root is ground into a powder, steeped in water, then filtered. Kava has sedative and anesthetic properties that can produce a numbing sensation within the lips and mouth.

A sense of calm or euphoria is experienced by those who imbibe. Kava has been used in Fiji, Hawaii and elsewhere for perhaps as long as 3,000 years in religious and welcoming ceremonies for honored guests. 

The flavor of the raw drink has an earthy, rather grassy taste. Many find the taste quite pleasant. For those who do not like the raw taste, Dunn or Alyssa Chaikin, the bar manager, will be happy to customize the serve by adding flavorings like lemon or raspberry syrups. One popular choice is the cinnamon toast option. The kava bar also serves commercially produced kava and kratom beverages in cans and bottles. 

On Sunday afternoon, a family came in with their two children. Because of the sedative properties of the root, the only beverage that could be served to the children was kombucha. The children enjoyed the commercially produced bottle of this fermented nonalcoholic beverage. Dunn is exploring the addition of a greater selection of products to suit a wider audience, but the focus is on an adult clientele who wish to chill with friends over an adult beverage while avoiding alcohol and its ill effects. 

Guests can purchase a 12 oz. bottle or a growler ($5 bottle deposit) of the in-house prepared beverages so that they can be enjoyed at home. One can also purchase brand-name products such as Leilo, Kin Euphorics, Psychedelic Water and Stay Cool CBD.

The patrons on Sunday afternoon felt quite pleased with their experience. Angela Contratti of Nesconset had a bula bowl. “I feel a little floaty,” she said. “It’s a really nice alternative to alcohol. My expectations were low coming in here, but I am leaving feeling ‘wow.’”

Roots’ new sign hangs where BYOG and East Main & Main used to be. Photo by Carolyn Sackstein

As with all herbal supplements and nutraceuticals, one must bear in mind that there are concerns relative to purity and adverse interactions with medications one might be taking. Dunn uses kava root powders that have been tested by a third-party lab to ensure quality. He and his staff happily provide patrons with product information and describe the effects that one may experience from using the drinks. 

People who have medical conditions, are pregnant or lactating, or taking medications are warned to consult their health care provider to determine contra indications or adverse drug interactions. According to Bill Hatfield, a licensed clinical social worker, who has for years counseled clients who are in recovery for addiction, suggests people should be cautious about trying kratom. While kratom is currently legal in New York state, it is his experience that clients, who were clean for a significant period, relapsed after trying kratom. That said, the kava bar seems to be enjoying a positive buzz within the community.

Roots Kava Bar is located at 250 E. Main St., Port Jefferson. The hours of operation are noon to midnight. Holidays may have altered hours. For additional information call 631-831-4887. 

File photo

Suffolk County Police said two North Shore residents were shot and injured outside an East Patchogue bar early Saturday morning.

Police said a man was escorted from El Buen Ambiente, located at 466 East Main St. in East Patchogue, following an altercation with another patron. The man retrieved a handgun from his vehicle and began shooting, striking two bystanders outside the bar at approximately 1:30 a.m, Oct. 24.

A 39-year-old Lake Grove man, who was shot twice in his legs, was transported to Long Island Community Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. A 26-year-old Northport man, who was struck once in the leg, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

The shooter fled in an unknown direction.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on this incident to call the 5thSquad at 631-854-8552 or to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS (8477). All calls will be kept confidential.

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Danya, Dean and Kevin Scott stand at the last night of the DEKS pub. Photo by Kyle Barr

It could have been like any other night at the family owned DEKS American Restaurant & Taproom Feb. 28, but of course, it wasn’t. Once the clock struck midnight March 1, the staple pub in Rocky Point that has stood for 41 years closed its doors for good.

“It’s the people, of course, it’s the people,” said Dean Scott, the pub’s owner. “It’s been nothing but accolades from people that say, ‘Look, thank you.’”

The pub and restaurant owner is moving down to Florida to enjoy a retirement that has been a long time coming. He said it was time to take a break from the hustle of running a bar as old as his.

Regulars Margaret and Vinny Labate stand with pub owner Dean Scott, center, while reminiscing about a photo taken there some 20 years ago. Photo by Kyle Barr

“It’s time,” he said. “We haven’t had any life. It’s 24/7. It’s like, ‘What are we out of? What fell down? What’s broken?’” 

Regular Margaret Labate has been coming to the pub for decades. In one of the closets toward the front entrance, the pub workers hold onto many photographs from over the years. On one of them from around 1998, Labate and her husband Vinny stand by the bar, smiling as they did the night of Feb. 28.

“This is when you had color in your hair, hon,” Margaret Labate said to her husband as she held the picture. “We’ll miss the homeliness and the comfort of this place.”

Labate had come for years, back when she and her husband had started dating. She would even eventually go by herself, saying she felt safe there.

There was a good amount of camaraderie to go around the closing night. Scott and his family, including his brother Kevin and daughter Danya, know just about everyone who walks through the doors and were able to make a quick quip about nearly every one of them as they came in from the cold night outside.

It was a night of bittersweet well wishes, but just a few days before, Feb. 24, the bar hosted its going-away party with live music. That night the space was packed shoulder to shoulder, and the parking lot across the street was lined by cars. By Feb. 28, most of the neon signs had been taken down while the Scott family sold off hundreds of beer taps, some from brands long forgotten.

Despite his love for the patrons, Scott said he has to get off his feet. He only recently underwent below-the-knee surgery due to complications from diabetes.

Scott family and friends reminisce about DEKS pub. Photo by Kyle Barr

Natalie Stiefel, president of Rocky Point Historical Society, said the building dates back to James Hallock, whose family was a well-known influence on the area in the early 19th century, and was built in 1825. Area local Charles Bloder purchased the house in 1929 and turned it into a night spot called The Rocky Point Inn.

Before Scott purchased it, the bar was originally named the Sip and Bull Tavern, he said, but it was later changed to its modern incarnation. The current pub owner can still remember a time before the bypass along Route 25A, just when the area was turning from a summer destination into a place where residents could take up roots.

Overall Scott said he is happy to see so much support for what he and his family have done.

“We were the place that always stayed open no matter what, somewhere you could get warm and get a hot meal,” Scott said. “It’s really wonderful, it’s a nice thing to know that people actually appreciate what you’ve done for the past 41 years. It’s been a long time — a lifetime.”

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Renee Goldfarb, the owner of Origin of Era. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Karina Gerry and Kyle Barr

The winds of change have began to blow in Port Jefferson village as the new year brings a host of changes to the area’s small businesses.

A few restaurants in the area are closing. Japanese restaurant Oceans 88, famous for its sushi bar, planned to be closed Jan. 31. Owners did not respond for requests to comment.

“There’s no more sushi in the village, that’s a real shame,” said village Mayor Margot Garant.

Though not all is bad as a number of new shops, both new names and old names, take shape all around the village.

Billie’s 1890 Saloon

Billie’s 1890 Saloon, a Port Jefferson staple, has reopened its doors after a kitchen fire forced it to close two years ago.

The bar and restaurant located on Main Street is back in business under its original ownership. Founded in 1981 by Billie E. Phillips and his late first wife, Billie’s 1890 Saloon soon became a community favorite. In 1987, after six years, Phillips sold his business, but after the fire in June of 2016 he purchased the restaurant and bar back with his son, Billie S. Phillips, and set about renovating the space. 

Billie’s 1890 Saloon. Photo by Kyle Barr

While the layout of Billie’s has remained relatively the same, the crowd has changed.

“It’s a more grown-up establishment,” Phillips Jr. said. “The same tables, and bar length and everything like that but it’s just been cleaned up and refurbished and we’re just going for a little more of an adult crowd than what it had turned out to be before the fire.”

Before the 2016 fire, Billie’s was considered a college bar, tailoring to the younger crowd with its infamous wheel, which was spun every hour and wherever the wheel landed was the drink that would be offered at a reduced price. Now, it has an age limit of 23, pushing away the crowd that made it so popular before.

“The new Billie’s seems to have a very different vibe,” Christopher Gulino, a former East Setauket resident said. “The renovations look great, but I think the customers that were regularly going to Billie’s when it was previously opened were looking forward to seeing the same old Billie’s.”

While the younger crowd may not be too happy with the changes to Billie’s, Phillips Jr. said they were necessary for the business to succeed.

“Billie’s had become the local meeting place and people have very fond memories of it,” Billie the younger said. “But I don’t think the business model they had would have survived much longer.”

New shop from East Main & Main

Food lovers can rejoice as one of the owners of East Main & Main is opening a new restaurant in Port Jefferson village.

Lisa Harris and her husband Robert Strehle opened the popular donut shop in June 2017, offering customers new flavors of donuts daily. After the success of the donut shop, Harris is ready to take on a new solo venture, a restaurant that offers brunch, lunch, dinner and shareable appetizers.

“It’s always been my dream to own a restaurant and run a restaurant,” Lisa Harris said. “It just seemed like the natural next step — it seemed like it was something that we were ready to take a chance.”

The new restaurant is slated to open around the end of February on Main Street. Harris said she plans for the space to have a casual comfortable vibe.

East Main and Main in Port Jefferson Village. Photo by David Lucas

“We didn’t have to do any building, any construction, or anything like that,” Harris noted. “We were very lucky because the restaurant there had pretty much everything we needed, it was just something we had to make our own by changing the color scheme and doing a lot of cleaning.”

Harris plans on having some crossover between the staff at the donut shop and the new restaurant, but she is also looking to hire a full-time crew.

“So we will be creating some new jobs,” Harris said. “Probably seven to 10 new jobs will be created in Port Jefferson, which will be great.”

While rumors have been making their rounds that East Main & Main is closing, Harris assures that’s not the case.

“We’re not moving the donut shop,” Harris said. “The donut shop is staying right where it is.”

And if donuts are more your thing, don’t worry, as Harris insists her and her husband are open to the idea of opening up another space somewhere else if the right opportunity comes along.

“It’s finding the right spot is always a challenge,” Harris said. “We’re kind of so spoiled here because of the foot traffic that we get. It’s just always exciting and fun, so we’re looking for a spot that is very similar to Port Jeff and there aren’t a lot of towns like Port Jeff.”

Origin of Era

A new clothing shop that just opened Jan. 26 in Chandler Square is looking to attract women of all shapes and sizes with a fashion-forward, inclusive ideal.

Renee Goldfarb, the owner of Origin of Era, is a Long Island native but has spent much of her life living in Queens and Brooklyn and abroad while working in the fashion industry. 

“I worked in film and fashion for 15 years — moved abroad and worked in Prague and Berlin. I worked in two corporations in branding, but I didn’t want to make money for anyone else anymore, I wanted to do it for myself,” she said.

Origin of Era in Port Jefferson Village. Photo by Kyle Barr

The owner opened and operated another store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for several years before she and her husband bought a home in Amityville Harbor. When coming to Long Island Goldfarb wanted to find a town that had the same sense of community she originally felt in that city neighborhood. Her selection was between Babylon village and Port Jeff village, but she chose the latter because she said the elected officials had small businesses in mind, especially with events like the annual Charles Dickens Festival.

While she said her previous store focused on vintage clothing, her new shop emphasizes the modern. In terms of her clothing selection, Goldfarb supplies sizes from extra small to extra-large, and offers free alterations to any items purchased in the store. The brand selection encompasses companies from the U.S., Spain, the U.K., India and China, though she stressed she only selected ethically produced clothing.

Most important in her selection, she said, was the emphasis on getting clothing only designed by women.

“If I owned a woman’s store I would make sure we represented all women and made it inclusive,” Goldfarb siad. “That’s why I wanted to make sure we only carried female designers … If we think logically, we are catering to women, nobody knows women best but a woman.”

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.”

Bar owner, patrons recall paranormal occurrences at Katie’s on Main Street

The stairway leading to the basement of Katie’s bar in Smithtown. Photo by Kevin Redding.

By Kevin Redding

If there’s something strange in your neighborhood bar, chances are you’re at Katie’s on West Main Street in Smithtown — where ghostly happenings are just as normal as ordering a drink.

The two-floor pub and live music venue, which sits on the grounds of the old Trainor Hotel that burned down in 1909, has long been a hotbed for spooky sightings and experiences according to its staff and patrons. The bar’s high level of spectral activity has even been featured on episodes of popular paranormal shows like Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures,” A&E’s “Paranormal State” and the Biography Channel’s “My Ghost Story.”

Dominique Maciejka, a former bartender at the establishment, said she had her fair share of brushes with the bar’s spirited regulars.

“I was by myself closing up, the music was off, nobody else was around, and a beer bottle cap went flying from one side of the bar to the other, like, sideways across the room,” Maciejka said, recalling one such freaky occurrence at the end of a night shift in fall 2011.

“I was the only person around so there was no explanation, nothing that could’ve triggered that … other than something supernatural,” she said. “On the way home, I called my mom and asked her to stay on the phone with me.”

She was also working when a soda gun behind the bar seemingly flung out of its holster on its own and dropped to the floor, an incident captured on the bar’s security cameras.

Gary Bates, from Smithtown, said he once saw what he described as “a big, gray, seven-foot tall” figure walk from one end of the bar counter to the other.

Another time, Bates said he was walking in the empty bar and felt the sensation of stepping into a large spider web even though there was no physical one in sight, and was then suddenly poked in the arm.

“There’s definitely something weird going on there,” Bates said of the Smithtown nightspot.

Owner Brian Karppinen believes the bar might be haunted. Photo by Kevin Redding.

Over the years, folks who frequent Katie’s have reported a wide range of eerie activity: distorted faces taking shape in the bar’s mirrors, hearing voices in empty rooms, feeling like they were being watched by unseen presences, seeing transparent children in the background of selfies and group pictures and having whatever may be haunting the place follow them home.

None of these reported occurrences  come as a surprise to Katie’s owner.

“The whole place is active,” said Brian Karppinen, 53, who has owned the bar since 2000. He pointed out that while the bar’s lively upstairs tends to be occupied by mischievous and relatively harmless ghosts, the basement billiards area is where he thinks more sinister ones roam. “Down there is a darker feeling, a heaviness — not as fun. You feel, spiritually, like something is not nice down there.”

Karppinen recalled a night in which a tough biker went downstairs to confront one of the malevolent spirits, stood in what was considered the basement’s most active spot by the pool table and was violently punched in the stomach by an invisible force.

“If he faked it, it would be amazing, but that seemed real,” Karppinen said, making clear he takes a lot of people’s reports with a grain of salt. “He hobbled out of here and I’ve never seen him again.”

While there are a number of theories from various paranormal and psychic groups that have explored the bar hoping to identify the ghosts, Karppinen said little concrete evidence has emerged from such explorations.

Some say the ghosts are past Smithtown residents who may have died in the Trainor Hotel fire, while others are convinced the more evil spirits could be Jinns, a Middle Eastern poltergeist that has purportedly existed before any religion.

However, one of the more mischievous ghosts that has become a sort of celebrity at Katie’s is widely thought to be Charlie Klein, a Prohibition-era bootlegger and part owner of the Smithtown Hotel in the 1920s, which is now Croxley’s Ale House.

According to members of the Smithtown Historical Society, Klein shot himself in his house in 1933 after serving a prison sentence. Klein’s house, Karppinen said, is directly across the street from the bar.

Brad Harris, the historical society’s president, said even though he’s never personally experienced any of the bar’s hauntings, he doesn’t think they’re made up.

“I don’t think it’s a figment of anybody’s imagination as there does seem to be strange occurrences happening there,” Harris said. “We have always had problems trying to explain why Charlie Klein’s ghost would be disturbing the bar, as he didn’t kill himself there, but it’s a strange world.”

Even stranger, Karppinen said, was when members of the Pennsylvania State University “Paranormal State” group were investigating the basement and one of them pointed to the end of the bar and said, “that’s where your ghost died — right there.”

“I said, ‘no he didn’t, he died across the street, he killed himself,’” Karppinen recalled. “And he said, ‘no … I used to be a DJ here in the early ’80s and there was an old timer who used to drink and would fall asleep at the bar. We would wake him up, get him a cab, and we would send him home every night. One night, he didn’t wake up and he died at the bar.’”

The corner of Katie’s many patrons believe is the habitat of the bar’s more sinister spirits. Photo by Kevin Redding

Karppinen said weird and unexplainable occurrences have surrounded him all his life and “it really seemed like I was called here.”

It was when the Lake Grove resident was driving to his girlfriend’s house one day, he said, that something told him to go visit his friend, Rich, who owned a struggling bar called Wolfgang’s Pub.

Sure enough, his instincts were right and Rich was in rough shape, depressed that his business was losing money and claiming the place was “cursed.” He asked Karppinen to be his partner and help out. Rich retired from the bar business soon after and Karppinen renamed the place after his grandmother, Katie Dunagan.

Naturally, for Karppinen, it didn’t take long before things got phantasmic.

Once, while jostling with a rotted door at the top of a steep stairwell in the bar, Karppinen lost his balance and felt himself teetering backward when, he said, “I felt two things grab my shoulder blades and upright me. I was like, ‘wow, whoever that is, thank you.’ I got the vibe it might have been my dad or a passed away family member. It was not a spooky vibe at all.”

“I think it’s some kind of a package deal that maybe this place was active and they wanted me here,” Karppinen said, laughing. “[I think] the darker thing attracted me and likes that I never really thrive. There’s times when I’m behind in bills and I’m like ‘I’m selling the place’ and then something comes through and suddenly we have money for bills again. It almost seems like they love the torture, but don’t want me to leave.”

Unless you own a corporate bar, Karppinen said, the bar business is a dying industry, but the ghosts have helped bring traffic to Katie’s.

“People love to talk about it, people know us all over, it has definitely helped,” Karppinen said. “That and our live music. Sometimes people are jerks and they’ll come in drunk from another place, like, ‘I wanna see the ghost!’ and, spiritually, I have no idea what’s going on here … so I try not to let that happen. I don’t want to torture these [dead] people more.”

Asked what he would say to any skeptics out there, Karppinen said, “I would tell them I’m not here to debate you. I don’t believe a lot of the [stuff] people say happened here, but some of it is very hard to explain.”

PJFD responds to a fire at Billie's 1890 Saloon on Main Street. Photo by Alex Petroski
PJFD responds to a fire at Billie’s 1890 Saloon on Main Street. Photo by Alex Petroski

A well-known watering hole on Main Street in Port Jefferson is closing its doors — at least for a little while — after a fire shut it down late Monday afternoon.

Billie’s 1890 Saloon, located on the western side of Main Street near the intersection of East Main Street and about a quarter of a mile south of Port Jefferson Harbor, was ablaze after a fire started toward the rear of the building around 4 p.m. on Monday.

Port Jefferson Fire Chief Charlie Russo addressed the incident after the flames were extinguished.

“Right now it’s just a fire that started in the back area of the building— it’s under investigation so I can’t give you too much information, but again it started in the back of the building, not the street side of the building,” Russo said. The kitchen is located in the back of the building.

“It was extinguished fairly quickly and minimal damage was done,” Russo said.

Russo also said that one civilian was taken to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation after the blaze.

A spokesman for the business who was on site after the fire declined to comment Monday, but two messages were posted on the saloon’s Facebook page later that night.

“We are temporarily closed for business,” the first message read at about 5:20 p.m.

The second message was posted just before 8 p.m.

“If not for the [Port Jefferson Fire Department],” the message said. “Billie’s would have been no more. Thank you for the prompt response! We will be back soon. [We’ll] keep you posted.”

It is unclear how long Billie’s will remain closed.

File photo

A Maryland man was stabbed in the face inside a Huntington bar early Saturday morning.

An Acacia bar patron alerted police shortly before 2 a.m. that a man had been stabbed inside the establishment, the Suffolk County Police Department said, and the Huntington Community First Aid Squad brought the victim to the hospital.

The 22-year-old victim, who police said is from Maryland, was treated for a non-life-threatening facial injury at Huntington Hospital.

Detectives are investigating the stabbing at the bar, which is located on New York Avenue near Elm Street. Anyone with information is asked to call them at 631-854-8252, or to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS.

Wrestler Dave Otunga films a scene at the Long Island Pour House in Port Jefferson Station for ‘What Happened Last Night.’ Photo by Giselle Barkley

What really did happen last night?

That’s what audiences will figure out in writer and director Candice Cain’s film “What Happened Last Night,” an independent film that puts a spin on and takes a comedic approach to breakups, new flames, friends and college life. The film retraces the steps of a group of college students after a fraternity party and opens with main characters Sarah and Danny, played by Alix Kermes and Clayton Snyder.

Brookhaven resident Cain brought her cast and crew to Long Island on Nov. 28 and started filming a bar scene at the Long Island Pour House in Port Jefferson Station. Although the film focuses on college students, actress Rebecca Boughton said there’s something for everyone, whether in high school, college or adulthood.

“It’s just very relatable because it’s a story about relationships,” Boughton said. “It’s about coming of age and figuring out who you are and what you want to do with your life.”

Boughton plays Laila, a pretentious advisor for the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. While Boughton is a member of the sorority in real life, that’s not the only thing that attracted her to the film. She and the cast agree that Cain’s script has natural dialogue, making the interaction between characters realistic.

“You know she comes from a theater background,” actor Jake Thomas said. “It’s a very long script, but it does flow very quickly because the dialogue just jumps from one thing to another.”

Like many of the cast, Thomas is no stranger to the stage. As a kid, he played alongside Hilary Duff as Lizzie McGuire’s little brother Matt on the 2001 Disney television series of the same name. Thomas is making an appearance in Cain’s film as Dave, the main character’s ex-boyfriend. Snyder, who played Ethan Craft on the same Disney Channel show, recommended the production to Thomas.

Cain wrote the story in three days, when she was a 19-year-old George Washington University student. The idea came about after she woke up at a friend’s place after attending a party the night before. Cain was sick during the party and took Nyquil before attending, and her friend allowed her to stay overnight after alcohol spilled on Cain and soaked her clothing. She woke up to the smell of bacon but couldn’t immediately remember where she was.

“I started thinking to myself, ‘What if there was someone in bed with me and I woke up? How would I have reacted?’” Cain recalled.

The writer and director performed her story at her university’s theater, acting as Sarah. Two decades later, this past April, Cain found the script in her basement.

“Everyone who’s been in a relationship knows that breakups suck,” Kermes said. “They’re hard especially in college when you start thinking about your future.”

Big name stars like Amber Rose and WWE wrestler David Otunga, who’s engaged to singer Jennifer Hudson, will also appear in the film, which hits theaters next year. Otunga heard about the film through his agent and took on the role of Tiny, a large bartender who comes to the rescue of Sarah’s friend Mindy, played by Diana Durango.

“I’m really happy to be able to support independent films,” Otunga said. “I feel like these are so much fun because it’s truly about the art. It’s not super-huge budgets and everything, but we make it work and make such an awesome looking project and it’s really cool to be a part of that.”

Co-partners Salvatore Mignano, Eric Finneran, and Daniel Valentino inside VAUXHALL. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Burger fans of Huntington: rejoice.

VAUXHALL, a burger bar with a late night menu and coffee cocktails, is set to open soon on Clinton Avenue in Huntington.

Native Long Islanders Eric Finneran, Daniel Valentino and Salvatore Mignano named the joint in honor of the Morrissey 1994 album “Vauxhall and I,” and they want to bring a fun vibe to a spot in the downtown area that has seen many different tenants over the last several years.

Burgers will be the central focus, but Valentino said the restaurant will also have wings and other appetizers. The kitchen is expected to stay open till 2 a.m. or later.

Their coffee cocktails will combine different brews with a variety of liquors, including Jameson and Jack Daniel’s cinnamon whiskey. The guys also expect to have 14 different beers on tap and an extensive cocktail menu — Finneran said they recently hired a mixologist who is putting together a revolving seasonal list.

Located at the end of Clinton Avenue, near the traffic circle with Gerard Street, VAUXHALL will be at a corner that has been a revolving door for businesses in recent years, but Finneran said that fact didn’t deter the local guys from setting roots.

“We love it,” Finneran said, adding that it makes them work harder to succeed in that spot.

Valentino was born in Huntington and attended St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington. Finneran and Mignano are from the South Shore.

The front entrance of VAUXHALL
The front entrance of VAUXHALL

Valentino said they had been interested in Huntington village for a while.

“It’s a great town with the best walking traffic,” Finneran said. “It’s got that vibe that sets the tone to succeed in business. You set up shop here and you put out a good product and you’re going to win.”

This is not the first business venture for the three men. They are co-partners of the Amityville Music Hall in Amityville, a music venue that has hosted national touring hardcore bands like Glassjaw and Madball.

Finneran and Mignano are also co-partners of the Leaky Lifeboat Inn in Seaford, a punk rock bar they describe as “organized chaos,” and ZA Late Night Pizza in Seaford. Leaky Lifeboat Inn was named best bar in the Bethpage Best of Long Island program in 2012.

Valentino met his two partners while working as a bartender at the Leaky Lifeboat Inn.

“We built a great friendship, trust and rapport with him,” Finneran said.

Valentino said the trio is “always looking for the next thing.”

All three partners said the vibe of their new restaurant is “come as you are,” with a rustic feel.

“We want families during the day, but at night we expect the crowd to resemble the Leaky Lifeboat,” Finneran said. They also hope to capture the people leaving shows at the Paramount late at night.

“This is a unique, hip experience that is not in town yet,” Valentino said.

VAUXALL is expected to open sometime in late November but no official date has been set.