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Danford’s Hotel and Marina

From left, PJCC President Mary Jo Pipe with owner Nancy Piazza (holding scissors) surrounded by her team on Nov. 19. Photo courtesy of PJCC

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for Hair, Loft & Brow Spa on Nov. 19. Located in the Danfords Hotel and Marina complex at 25 East Broadway, Port Jefferson, the new business is an extension of the Hair, Lash & Brow Loft and Bar located at 120 East Main Street in the village. A grand opening celebration followed, with catered food, champagne, music, raffles and giveaways.  

This full-service spa offers an array of services which includes lash extensions, spa facials, massages, waxing, threading and semi-permanent makeup. 

Along with offering spa services, the stylists are fully licensed through New York State to offer continuing education, including advanced training for beauticians through their HLB Academy. Their team at HLB Academy trains hundreds of professional stylist in the areas of hair and lash extensions, micro-blading, semi-permanent makeup and micro-pigmentation.

Spa hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday by appointment only. For more information, call 631-509-1349 or visit www.hairlashandbrow.com.

Jeffrey Sanzel, pictured with Michelle LaBozzetta, in a scene from 'A Christmas Carol' in 2018. Photo from Theatre Three

By Melissa Arnold

If you’ve been to Theatre Three in Port Jefferson at any point in the last 30 years, you have Jeffrey Sanzel to thank. Of course, he doesn’t see it that way, but as Executive Artistic Director, he’s responsible for overseeing everything from the upcoming season’s lineup to hiring actors and managing day-to-day operations.

Jeffrey Sanzel Photo courtesy of Theatre Three

Beyond that, he’s also written countless shows of his own and taken his turn onstage. Each December, he reprises the iconic role of Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” and most recently starred in “Every Brilliant Thing,” an intimate one-man production about mental health.

So when it came time to choose an honoree for Theatre Three’s 50th anniversary celebration and fundraiser, the decision was a simple one.

“The amount of work Jeffrey puts in is completely unmatched. Watching him work up close is amazing – he’ll agonize over something as small as the placement of a book or the lighting being a certain way. He has a vision of how everything fits together, not just as a director but an actor,” said Andy Markowitz, president of Theatre Three’s board of directors.

The dinner/dance celebration was originally slated for 2020, the theater’s anniversary year, but was shelved during the pandemic. 

Jeffrey Sanzel in a scene from ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ in July of this year. Photo by Steve Ayle/ShowbizShots.com

“After the original plans were canceled, there was a suggestion to have a 55th celebration instead, but ultimately this is about recognizing Jeffrey for all he does. He deserves it, and this is his time. There’s no need to wait,” said Theatre Three’s Managing Director Vivian Koutrakos who met Sanzel when he first joined the Theatre Three staff in 1989. Since then, he’s earned a reputation for being a meticulous and serious director, but he’s got a humorous side, too. 

“It’s true that his humor is dry and he runs a very tight ship. But he’s honestly the funniest person I’ve ever met, and he makes us laugh every day,” Koutrakos said. “He’s absolutely brilliant.”

Now in its 52nd season, proceeds from the evening will be used to expand Theatre Three’s programming, particularly for children.

“The money raised is going towards new educational programs, specifically one called ‘How Does It Make You Feel?,’ an original musical aimed at elementary schools. The play will address many social-emotional learning topics,” said Sanzel. “In addition, there is a long-term project in the works for educational touring that I’m working on with Oya Bangura from Project Move.”

Sanzel is the creative force behind the theater’s school-based programs, using the stage as a vehicle to educate thousands of students on issues that can be tough to address, such as the Holocaust (“From the Fires”) and bullying (“Stand Up, Stand Out”), among others. Hired actors travel as far as Florida and Canada for the shows, with as many as 100 performances per year.

“The traveling shows for students are about 45 minutes long and are focused on specific age groups. The kids become totally captivated by the shows — it gives them an opportunity to connect with serious issues and ask questions in a way that’s meaningful to them,” Markowitz said.

Above, Theatre Three celebrated Jeffrey Sanzel’s 1,400th performance as Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol’ on Nov. 29, 2019 with the cast and crew. Photo by Gabriele Brekne

In addition to the traveling shows, the theater puts on a full mainstage season, children’s theater productions, comedy nights and special events. They also offer acting classes for all ages and skill levels.

Douglas Quattrock, Artistic Associate and Director of Development for the theater, said that while the past few years have been a struggle for the nonprofit, they are excited about the future.

“I think all of us at the theater saw our 50th year as a real turning point. Times are always hard in the arts, but with Jeffrey’s leadership we’ve been able to keep going and maintain the integrity and quality of our work. This team respects Jeffrey and the mark he’s made on this institution so much,” he said. “Personally, he’s given me so many incredible opportunities, brought my stories to life, and become such a dear friend to me over the years. I know that if I ever need him, he’s there for me.”

Dinner dance guests will be treated to a cocktail hour, an elaborate meal with open bar service, and live entertainment from Debra and Patrick Lawler.

As for Sanzel, he’s feeling a little sheepish about all the attention.

“It’s kind of embarrassing,” he joked. “But this is a great honor and the acknowledgement is deeply appreciated.”

Theatre Three’s Dinner/Dance fundraiser will be held on Saturday, Oct. 8 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at Danfords Hotel and Marina, 25 E Broadway, Port Jefferson. Tickets are $150 per person. For questions or to purchase tickets, call Theatre Three at 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

File photo by Christina Whitehurst

TPG Hotels, Resorts & Marinas — a Rhode Island-based hospitality group with hotels and resorts across the country — announced last week that it acquired Port Jefferson’s Danfords Hotel, Marina & Spa, located on the harbor in the village. 

Originally established in 1986 as Danfords Inn, it boasts 92 guest rooms and suites. Its marina features more than 100 slips and over 1,000 feet of side to tie with the capacity to accommodate vessels up to 250 feet in length. Hotel stayers and locals visit its onsite restaurant and lounge, WAVE. 

Some of the buildings on the property date back to the 1800s, when Port Jefferson was a bustling shipbuilding community.

“Danfords Hotel, Marina & Spa in Port Jefferson is a remarkable destination located in one of the highest barriers-to-entry markets in all of North America,” said Robert Leven, chief investment officer of Procaccianti Companies, in a statement. “Danfords is a perfect fit as we accelerate the growth of our recently launched marina platform. We have several more acquisitions in the pipeline and intend to have a significant concentration of East Coast marina properties by the end of 2021.”

The transaction is one of three acquisitions in the last seven months in TPG’s newly launched marina platform. In Rhode Island, TPG acquired both Dutch Harbor Boat Yard in Jamestown this June, and Champlin’s Hotel, Resort and Marina on Block Island in December 2020. The latter property is currently undergoing extensive renovations as part of a comprehensive improvement plan.

“It is not common to find the perfect buyer, but in this case we have achieved success,” Enrico Scarda, managing partner of The Crest Group, said in a statement. 

Additionally, as part of the transaction, TPG will also manage catering operations at The Waterview restaurant located at the Port Jefferson Country Club.

TPG will embark on a property improvement plan at Danfords, including resortwide modernization, which includes the lodging and slip reservation systems and a full renovation of the resort’s guest rooms. 

Additional renovations and improvements are also planned for the marina facilities.

The Crest Group was unable to further comment by press time. 

Danford’s was cited for violations by the New York State Liquor Authority July 4. Meanwhile, bars say current restrictions could suck any business they could have during reopening. Photo by Kyle Barr

Over the past weekend, 84 restaurants and bars in downstate New York were cited with violations to COVID-19 guidelines by the State Liquor Authority. A total of 10 establishments on western Long Island and New York City had liquor licenses removed. 

Bench Warmers Tavern & Grill in Mount Sinai has an outdoor deck, to the left of the artwork, built specifically to help comply with state orders. Owner of the sports bar Jim Dunn said nobody uses it because of the heat. Photo by Kyle Barr

Though Monday Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Long Island and New York City are stepping up their enforcement, it’s a new point in the continuing contention between bars and New York State over social distancing restrictions. While other states across the country see record spikes,the governor has mentioned the possibility of scaling back reopening of bars and pubs, though owners say that would kill their businesses.

Documents released by the state reveal 16 of the 443 establishments which were cited for distancing violations from March to July 22 were in Suffolk County, though none were issued in this most recent round of investigations. Among those on the North Shore, only Danfords Hotel &, Marina in Port Jefferson and Pancho Villa’s in Huntington have previously been cited. This was out of 1,080 SLA investigations in New York, according to a release from the governor’s office. That office has not responded to requests for comment about the specifics of those citations, or about where the 84 new violations have come from this past weekend’s efforts.

“We are very proud of what New Yorkers did to flatten the curve of the virus, but we have to protect our progress because no one wants to do that again,” Cuomo said in a release July 24.

On Monday, the governor said there had been no summonses on businesses failing to follow coronavirus guidelines.

Earlier in July, Cuomo announced a so-called “Three Strikes and You’re Closed” initiative that means any business that receives three violations or shows an egregious disregard for the guidelines could be closed or have its license revoked. This weekend’s investigations of these establishments showed people not social distancing or wearing masks in a kind of “party-like” atmosphere, according to the governor’s office. During the pandemic, 40 establishments have had their liquor licenses revoked in total, as of July 27. Cuomo cited young people as the main reason these bars are packed and not conforming to distancing guidelines. 

“That’s not unique to New York — it’s a national problem — and even the president of the United States said young people shouldn’t go into packed bars,” Cuomo said.

Danfords was cited on the Fourth of July for failing to conform to distancing guidelines. A representative of The Crest Group, which owns Danfords, did not respond to requests for comment.

Pancho Villa’s was cited June 26. Restaurant owners could not be reached for comment.

The governor indicated last week that if we see more failure to social distance in bars, the state may roll back reopening regarding these establishments. 

It’s a hard line to follow, especially as New York hovers over a 1 percent regional infection rate. If that number increases past 5 percent, schools will not be able to reopen in the fall. Above 9 percent, the governor will start to roll back on the reopening process that counties across the state managed to make over the past two months.

But for bars and other restaurants that sell alcohol, it’s a roller coaster bringing them undue anxiety, even as they try to make guidelines.

Mount Sinai’s Bench Warmers Tavern & Grill co-owner Jim Dunn said it’s been tough to follow what has been, from the ground level, seemingly haphazard orders from New York State. Business has been hard, he said, even after reopening. He’s gone from 10 tables in the dining area to four and from 12 barstools to six along the bar with only three bar tables. He built a deck patio that now has five tables on it, but with the recent heat wave, very few customers have dared sit outside and eat.

Though he said he’s been doing everything to comply with state regulations, the constant changes have been disruptive. The worst order for his restaurant, he said, has been the requirement that people must order food if they are to order drinks. 

“A guy who’s a contractor can’t just come in and have a beer after work, because he has to have a beer with dinner,” Dunn said. “They’re trying to put the restaurant business out of business — every week there’s a different thing with this governor.”

STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES

Gerard Romano of Port Jefferson Station snapped this photo of roses in the Village of Port Jefferson last week. He writes, ‘These red beauties were planted at the main entrance to Danfords Hotel. I positioned  my camera near the roses so that the gray and white railings provide a soft contrasting background.’

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THE SAILOR Gerard Romano of Port Jefferson Station captured this image of the sailor statue at the Mary Bayles Waterfront Park before the North Shore’s first snowfall this year using a Nikon D3100 with a Nikon 10.5 mm fish eye lens. Danfords Hotel & Marina appears in the background. According to the Port Jefferson Historical Society’s website, the statue, which gazes out over the waters of Port Jefferson Harbor, was dedicated to the park in 1984, ‘‘In recognition of the shipbuilders who from the late 1700s launched over 400 vessels to answer the call of country, commerce, whaling and pleasure.”

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