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Mora’s Fine Wine & Spirits

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Carolyn and Rich Mora stand inside Mora’s Fine Wine & Spirits. Rich Mora holds a bottle of bourbon made specially for the store’s 30th anniversary. Photo by Rita J. Egan

What started as an interest in wine has led to a store that has become a staple in the Three Village area.

On Nov. 30, Rich Mora will celebrate 30 years as owner of Mora’s Fine Wine & Spirits. His wife of 16 years Carolyn, a retired children’s librarian who helps her husband run the store, credits its success to Mora’s passion for locating smaller production wines and different spirits customers tell him about. She said patrons, many of whom find the store through its website, come from all over including a gentleman recently all the way from Tennessee.

“We have great customers, but basically it’s Rich’s passion for fine wine and for staying his course and not selling out to big companies,” she said. “I’m very proud of him. Thirty years is a big thing. It’s all about community here.”

The exterior of Mora’s Fine Wine & Spirits

Mora’s Fine Wine & Spirits continues the legacy of a liquor store at the location of 280 Route 25A in East Setauket. Mora said in 1989 he bought the building from Robert Eikov, who was in his 80s at the time and also ran a liquor store. The Eikov family lived in the area for decades, and elder Eikov originally opened a cut-to-order butcher shop at the location. Three Village Historical Society historian Beverly Tyler said Eikov, along with his wife Blanche, constructed the building shortly after they were married sometime in the 1930s, and lived in an apartment at the rear of the store. Decades later, Eikov reopened his business as a liquor store.

“Robert Eikov told me that he was having trouble cutting meat due to the cold temperature and because his hands were not as flexible as in his youth, so he had to give up the butcher shop,” Tyler said.

Today the building looks pretty much the same as it did when Eikov owned it, Mora said, even including a green awning and a neon liquor sign that has been there since 1965.

The store owner said he didn’t set out thinking he would own a wine store, even though he always felt like he would work for himself. Born in Central America, he grew up in Larchmont in Westchester County, and after going to college for a while in Oregon he decided to study at Stony Brook University. He holds an undergraduate degree in physics, but while studying at SBU, he decided to take a formal wine class and became interested in the art of fine wines. He started teaching after college but the wine tasting classes stuck with him, and he began researching how to acquire a liquor license and setting up the business itself before he bought the building he is in today.

While he was studying at SBU, Mora said the area reminded him a lot of Larchmont, where he lived near the Long Island Sound. He added he always loved the water, beaches and boating.

“It felt a lot like home here,” he said.

When it comes to running a successful business, Mora said a store owner needs to constantly reinvent the business as rules, shipping laws and the business world are constantly changing.

Through the years, Mora has offered events, such as tastings, for his customers as he said the universe of wine keeps expanding, and with the increased number of spirits brands out there, interest has grown.

“This community is very responsive to that,” he said. “They like to discover exciting new wines. They like our events. They like the people from the wine business that we introduce them to.”

To celebrate the store’s milestone, the Moras recently had a bourbon whiskey specially made by Garrison Brothers Distillery in Texas. The couple tasted samples to choose what they felt best represented the store. Rich Mora described it as “a honey barrel,” and bottles are available at the shop for purchase for a limited time.