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Miller Place

Miller Place Inn. Photo courtesy the Miller Place Inn

By Samantha Rutt

The Miller Place Inn, a beloved landmark and popular wedding venue for decades, closed its doors permanently on Feb. 1, leaving the community reeling and couples scrambling to reschedule their dream weddings.

Owned and operated by the Regina family for 18 years, the inn has hosted countless celebrations, from weddings and anniversaries to graduations and corporate events. Known for its historic charm, picturesque gardens and attentive staff, the inn established itself as a cherished destination for residents of Miller Place and beyond.

“My son was married at the Miller Place Inn 36 years ago … it was perfectly delightful, a wonderful experience” Elanor McMullan, a longtime Miller Place resident said of the inn. “I have known the Miller Place Inn for so many years, they did a beautiful job with the wedding and we have many happy memories.” 

The closure came as a shock to many, with couples receiving letters only days before their scheduled events. The Regina family cited “the current business environment, the changing dynamics of the catering industry and the remnant effects of the pandemic lockdowns” as reasons for the closure.

“Because of the current business environment, the changing dynamics of the catering industry and the remnant effects of the pandemic lockdown that still affect so many of residents and businesses, we have determined that it is not possible for us to continue operations,” the Reginas stated in a letter sent to customers who left deposits for upcoming events. “We’ve exhausted every effort to keep this family business … from coming to this end, including decorating upgrades and a recent renovation. Unfortunately, despite the financial cost of these efforts we have not been able to end the financial strain of continuing the business.”

While the future of the property remains unclear, the emotional impact is undeniable. The news has resonated deeply within the community. Residents shared memories of cherished events held at the inn on social media, expressing sadness and disbelief. Local businesses that often collaborated with the venue, like caterers and florists, also face uncertainties due to the sudden closure.

“​​My wife and I got married there this past year and were very happy with management and our ceremony. I am so sorry to hear that people didn’t have a good experience there, and am sorry to hear that the venue has closed,” an anonymous user on Reddit said about the inn. 

“We got married there in 2019. The Regina family overall was nice and respectful and kept their promises. The food was incredible and we were satisfied with how everything turned out.” said another Reddit user.

Despite the sadness, there are also glimmers of hope. Organizations like Brides of Long Island are offering support to affected couples, helping them reschedule their weddings at alternative venues. The resilient spirit of the community is evident in the outpouring of sympathy and willingness to help those impacted by the closure.

Many questions remain unanswered regarding the financial details of the closure, the fate of employees and the future of the property. Whether it will be sold, repurposed or remain vacant is unknown.

After edging by Miller Place in the first set having to win by two, the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats lost the second set to make it a new match in the League VI matchup.

Squeezing by the Panthers 25-23 in the third set and rallying in the fourth set, the Wildcats were lucky to escape with the 3-1 victory, 28-26, 18-25, 25-23, 25-18, on the road Sept. 22.

Senior Giorgia Balza led the way for the Wildcats with 13 kills, a pair of aces and 4 blocks, and teammate Caroline Lange had a block with 4 kills.

Setting the pace for the Panthers was Payton Horan with 13 kills, a service ace and 2 digs along with Olivia Honkanen’s 6 kills 3 service aces and 4 digs.

The win lifts the Wildcats to 2-2, leaving the Panthers searching for that elusive first win.

Both teams are back in action Sept. 28 when the Wildcats host Bayport-Blue Point at 4 p.m. and the Panthers have a road game against nearby Mount Sinai. First service is set for 4:30 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon

The Miller Place community twinkled brightly on Saturday, Dec. 10, during a tree lighting ceremony held at the Aliano Shopping Center on Route 25A.

The event was well attended by community members, public officials and even pets. Fun and joy went all around. A tall, multicolored tree served as the centerpiece for the evening. 

Community members enjoyed a blast to the past during the annual Country Fair hosted by the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society Oct. 15-16.

The program was held at the historical society’s c. 1720 headquarters, located within the area’s historic district on North Country Road. Outside, live music played as the society’s volunteers educated the crowds of spectators. 

In a vivid recreation of an era without running water or electricity, some prepared baked goods and stews over an open flame, offering spectators a taste of history. Others brought out toy sets, reliving the pastimes of their local forebears.

Antoinette Donato, vice president of MPMSHS, was overjoyed by the number of community members who turned out throughout the day. She described the event’s purpose and its place in honoring the region’s history.

“We share a step back in time with the community,” she said. “We have demonstrators who demonstrate old crafts from years and years ago that no longer exist. We have our barn open, which is full of historical artifacts.” She added, “We feel it’s really important to share this experience with the community. It’s an opportunity to share what early America was like.”

Mark Sternberg, a local historian who specializes in the American Revolution, was among those who joined the festivities. In an interview, Sternberg shared the unique place Miller Place occupied during the Revolutionary War.

“There were patriots here, loyalists here, but there is definitely a huge amount of Revolutionary War history here,” he said.

At this historic site in Miller Place, Sternberg described the experience of being transported through time. He emphasized the need to preserve historical artifacts and structures, and celebrate local customs — all a function of the historical society.

“It’s tough when you don’t have a touch point,” Sternberg said. “The saving of these historic structures is one key way of connecting to history, giving people an idea of imagining the event happening there.” 

He added, “What’s great about this area is a lot of these houses are exactly where they were initially, so you can also position the whole landscape as tying into how you would imagine that place being throughout history.”

Donato believes that events such as these keep local history alive, making it engaging and entertaining for the next generation. She also stated that there is no substitute for the immersive experience offered through the fair.

“You can read about it in a book, look it up on Facebook and Google it, but there is nothing like coming here and seeing it in person,” she said.

— Photos by Raymond Janis

North Country Road Middle School will serve as the polling site for this year budget and school board elections. File photo

Miller Place school district will be holding its budget vote and board of education elections this Tuesday.

The proposed budget for 2022-23 is $77,670,225, a 1.5% increase.  

Incumbents Johanna Testa, BOE president, and trustee Keith Frank are being challenged by Jennifer Andersen-Oldenskov, Kenneth Conway, John Galligan, Jennifer Keller, Andrea Spaniolas and Jenna Stingo.

In this at-large vote,  the three candidates receiving the highest number of votes will be elected to serve on the board of education, according to the school district. 

Voting

The budget vote and trustee elections will be held Tuesday, May 17, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at North Country Road Middle School, 191 N. Country Road, Miller Place.

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By Bill Landon

It was all Comsewogue in the first 24 minutes of play when senior attack Michael Katz had his hat-trick two minutes before the halftime break. 

Miller Place co-captain Anthony Bartolotto arrested the Warrior scoring frenzy when the senior buried his shot to take the goose egg off the board in this Div. II showdown on May 3. The Warriors stood on the gas and never looked back, putting the game away 10-3.

Katz finished his day with four goals and two assists. Teammates Justin Bonacci had an assist and three goals, Brayden Arias scored twice and James Krieg stretched the net. Goalie’s Adam Wachholder had eight saves in net and Gavin Larsen stopped five.

Miller Place senior Devon Duchnokski and Robby Cunningham each had a goal apiece and keeper Kenny Leen had six saves.

The win lifts the Warriors to 8-3 in league and the loss drops the Panthers to 7-4 with three games remaining before post season play begins. 

From right, Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, Councilwoman Jane Bonner and Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich with members of Cub Scout Pack 204. Photo from TOB

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, Councilwoman Jane Bonner and Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich recently welcomed “Arrow of Light” Cub Scouts from Pack 204 in Miller Place to Town Hall in Farmingville. 

The group held a lively discussion about Town government and the role of the Supervisor and Town Council. Part of their requirement to transition from Cub Scout to Boy Scout is to speak with local leaders about how they serve their community.

“Scouts visiting Town Hall is a longtime tradition and I am always happy to join my colleagues to speak with them about my career in government. These scouts asked very good questions and their enthusiasm gives me great hope for the future of this country,” said Supervisor Romaine.

Councilwoman Bonner added, “I really enjoyed our meeting with the Cub Scouts at Town Hall. They were so enthusiastic to learn more about how government works, and I was happy to spend the time talking with them. These boys are the leaders of tomorrow and from what I can see, we will be in good hands.” 

“I really enjoyed meeting with the Scouts. I was so impressed by their well thought out and sophisticated questions. Explaining how government and politics work to young people really helps put into perspective what we’re here to do and I have every hope and confidence that these young people will grow up to be an active part of the community,” added Councilmember Kornreich. 

After two years of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, folks young and old were finally able to enjoy their beloved St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Hosted by the Friends of St. Patrick, the 70-year-old tradition returned to the streets of Miller Place and Rocky Point where a sea of green made of marching band members, bagpipers, local fire departments, public figures, vintage cars and more flowed past waves of revellers.  

File photo by Bob Savage

After a two year hiatus brought on by COVID 19 restrictions and mandates, The Friends of St. Patrick will resume a springtime tradition by hosting the 70th annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 13 starting at 1 p.m. sharp. This year the committee has named all former Grand Marshals to be Grand Marshals at this year’s parade. 

“North Shore residents have been cooped up and socially distanced for two long years now. It is time to break free and come out and celebrate with your community in this annual rite of spring. Pipe bands, fire trucks, dancers and marchers promise to lift all our spirits,” said a press release.

In lieu of naming a Queen and her Court, the Friends of St. Patrick have begun a scholarship fund for our local high schools. This year’s winner of a $1,000 scholarship is Alexa Zichinelli from Miller Place High School. Alexa wrote an essay on Irish history and lore inspired by her great-great Grandma, Mary Margaret McArdle from County Clare.

Alexa will be studying pre-med in college and is an active athlete, musician, tutor and volunteer. She aspires to become a surgeon and be a part of Doctor Without Borders.

For further information please visit their website at www.friendsofsaintpatrick.com or call 631-473-5100.

Kenny Lee, PJ Lobster House’s new sushi chef, inside the restaurant. Photo by Julianne Mosher

It’s now the best of both worlds.

When Benten Fine Sushi and Japanese Cuisine in Miller Place permanently closed in October, members of the community were devastated.

A new opportunity came just this month for Kenny Lee, the former Benten owner, where he has found a new home inside Port Jefferson village’s PJ Lobster House. 

It began when the Lobster House’s owner, James Luciano, started getting tips and requests from mutual customers about Lee. 

“James had another sushi person before who left and the timing just worked out,” Lee said. “I thought it was a good opportunity.”

When the PJ Lobster House moved from Upper Port to Main Street last year, as part of the renovations came a full sushi bar that they didn’t have at their old spot. 

“It’s great to add sushi to the menu, especially with the summertime coming,” Luciano recently said. “There’s no sushi in Port Jeff.”

Luciano admitted that when the previous sushi chef was at the bar, people didn’t come to sit there and indulge. But then Lee came on board and the seats have been filled every night he’s there.

“We’re getting a lot of customers where people are asking for sushi, and then ask if Ken is working,” Luciano added.

Last March, TBR News Media reported that Benten was struggling to keep their doors open due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A GoFundMe was created to help support the sushi restaurant with hundreds of people showing their support.

Unfortunately, Lee said, the closure was inevitable.  

“It was hard finding people to work,” he said. 

Lee and his mother owned the building at 971 Route 25A in Miller Place for nearly two decades, previously owning a place in Mount Sinai for many years before that. 

Lee and his family decided it was best to close instead of dealing with the constant stress.

But the new opportunity at PJ Lobster House is special for Lee — he is a graduate of Port Jefferson high school and is happy to be back in the community.

And while it’s not a carbon copy of his menu at Benten, Lee is bringing a ton of favorites — customers who order the new PJ roll might remember it as Benten #2.

Luciano said that right now they will have sushi available Wednesday through Sunday and will offer lunch, dinner and plan to add seafood towers to the menu.