Tags Posts tagged with "Country Corner"

Country Corner

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Marios Patatinis stands in front of The Bench in Stony Brook which he bought before the pandemic hit. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Marios Patatinis didn’t let COVID-19 stop him from expanding his businesses. In fact, it worked more in his favor.

The owner of Sweet Mama’s Family Restaurant in Northport and at Stony Brook Village Center recently bought The Bench in Stony Brook and the Country Corner in East Setauket.

“Nobody expected this,” he said of The Bench. “Coming into it, my motion was to buy this and just let it run normally. COVID I guess helped in the sense that we had to adapt quickly over the March to June period.”

Patatinis, who was born and raised in Cyprus, began his restaurant entrepreneurship in 2016 after working in maritime business and eventually telecom. He decided he no longer wanted to work for other people and be in control of his own career. That’s when he found Sweet Mama’s in Northport and took over the restaurant. Two years later he opened the brand’s second location in Stony Brook village. Now, in 2020, he has added two more North Shore spots to his growing list of endeavors: The Bench in Stony Brook, by the railroad station, and Country Corner in East Setauket.

Patatinis wanted to give both bars a facelift, clean them up and make them more upscale with specialty menu items and intriguing cocktails.

“They’re really complementing each other,” he said.

Sweet Mama’s is known for its breakfast, brunch and lunch, with Grandpa’s Shed inside the Stony Brook location — a speakeasy bar settled in the back. The Bench is a casual family sports bar, while Country Corner is a traditional pub with newly added, tasty menu items.

When the East Setauket resident decided to purchase The Bench, it was a rather long process. Patatinis signed the paperwork in November, with the goal to open in March. COVID-19 crept up on the business owner and his new location the first week it opened. “We took over, then they shut everything down,” he said.

Soon enough, the business was able to utilize the takeout dining options to get out its name and the change of ownership.

“The Bench was never known for its food,” he said. “So now you see I have a high-end chef, an upscale bar with an upgraded wine list. … We’re getting away from the stigma of the old college sports bar.”

During the pandemic, he and his team renovated the interior to make it more family friendly. They built a side room to host intimate luncheons and parties.

But it wasn’t always easy. He had to figure out how to adapt his first two locations under new state guidelines, all while planning the other new openings.

“I would say the first few months were tight, because what was coming through was actually going on just to cover the bills,” he said.

To cope with the pandemic and keep his businesses running smoothly, he restructured his priorities.

“And here we are now, six months open,” he said.

He said the community has been welcoming to The Bench’s new setup. Now, he’s looking forward to bringing a change to the Country Corner.

Located on the corner of Route 25A and Gnarled Hollow Road, the bar was known as a local pub. Patatinis said he’s planning the same upgrades he did to his former restaurants. Clean it up and add some more good food. Since taking over the spot just two weeks ago, he’s already begun small renovations, with plans for larger ones to the bar early next year.

“We want to give it an easy appeal, have people through the door, look at and go, ‘I can hang out here,’” he said.

Even though COVID-19 made things feel rushed and were hard sometimes, Patatinis is optimistic.

“We have to adapt, and it actually made us more efficient,” he said.

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Photo from VFW Post 3054

Three Village veterans are hoping the community will stop by the pub Country Corner Saturday, March 2, for a fundraiser to benefit their Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3054 are hosting a fundraiser March 2 to renovate parts of their Jones Street building. Photo from VFW Post 3054

Michael Salemi, vice commander of VFW East Setauket Post 3054, said money raised that day will go toward much needed renovations of the post’s building located on Jones Street. Admission to the fundraiser will include food and one beer, and there will be raffles with prizes donated by local businesses.

Salemi said, in the past, the post has raised money for fellow veterans, especially at local homes, but recently they needed to concentrate on gathering funds for work on their post building. The group raised $2,800 during a Feb. 5 fundraiser at Madiran The Wine Bar.

“This past fundraiser at the wine bar and this one coming up at Country Corner, it kind of helps get ourselves squared away,” he said, adding once they complete renovations they can return to raising money for local veterans.

Quartermaster Jay Veronko said the post is celebrating its 85th anniversary this year with the Jones Street building being approximately 90 years old. Historian Carlton “Hub” Edwards said he remembers attending Setauket High School, which housed first to 12th grade, on Jones Street in the 1940s when the current VFW building was used by the school for gym, carpentry classes and school fundraisers. He said for years it was referred to as the scout house because a Boy Scout troop used it as a meeting place.

Veronko said even though the building has been renovated over the years, the post members are hoping to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and general renovations are needed, especially in the kitchen and women’s bathroom. The post has no income, Veronko said, as they are conservative about renting out the house for parties to the general public due to it being located in a residential area.

The quartermaster said the members were appreciative of Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) who recently coordinated a visit with local trade union representatives to the post. Hahn said it was during a visit to a VFW post in Medford that she learned that sometimes trade unions donate their time to renovate VFW posts, and many local skilled laborers want to volunteer and use their skills to help veterans, which helps defray the cost of labor.

Hahn said she recognizes the appreciation residents feel for veterans, and believes they feel it’s important local posts have what they need to continue serving vets.

“I’m just trying to help however I can as a reflection of what I know is strong support from our community as a whole,” she said. “It’s everyone’s duty to help a little bit these folks who gave so much.”

Veronko said the hope is that one day the post, which hosts the East Setauket Memorial Day Parade and Veterans Day memorial service, as well as a fall chicken barbecue fundraiser, will be able to organize more community events like flea or farmers markets.

“We’ve been part of the community for a long time,” he said. “We try to be a good neighbor, and we’re trying to reach out a little bit more.”

Country Corner is located at 270 Main St., Setauket. The fundraiser begins at 4 p.m. March 2, and admission is $30 per person. For those unable to attend the event and would like to contribute, donations can be sent to the post at 8 Jones St., East Setauket, NY 11733.