Coronet to close, former owner reminisces about Greenport eatery

06/02/2016 6:00 AM |

Coronet

Well before sunrise, Gary Ostroski would arrive in Greenport Village to open the Coronet Luncheonette. Inside, retired Greenport police officer “Ducky” Miller would already be drinking his first cup of coffee.

The days went like clockwork. At dawn, busloads of fishermen would be waiting at the door for coffee. Soon after, the local politicians, contractors, shopkeepers and lawyers followed. At 10:15, when employees in the Mills Co. building across the street were let out on break, another surge would hit.

After nearly seven decades the Coronet, a small breakfast and lunch spot at the corner of Main and Front streets that was often jammed during the summer from morning until close, is approaching the end of an era.

Mr. Ostroski, who owned the Coronet from 1981 to 2004, said the prospective new owners have begun the process of acquiring the business with the hope of revamping it as a similar restaurant. Callie and Tim Martino, owners of Crazy Beans, a breakfast and lunch café with locations in Stony Brook and Miller Place, laid out some of their plans before the Greenport Village Planning Board last Thursday.

“We are just looking to bring Crazy Beans to Greenport, one of our favorite spots,” Mr. Martino told board members. He said they do not plan to physically change the interior of the Coronet, which currently remains open, but simply redesign it.

Mr. Martino said he’d like to keep the sign over the door that reads “Coronet Circa 1949.”

Perry Angelson, the Coronet’s current owner, joined the Martinos at the meeting and voiced no objections. He declined to comment on this story until a deal has been finalized.

Mr. Ostroski still owns the building that houses the Coronet. He said he will continue to do so, at least at first, adding that the Martinos will have the option to purchase the building as well as the business.

For decades, the luncheonette has served as a community hub.

Marian Kruszeski worked there as a waitress under owner Jerry King, from 1950 to about 1971. She worked the 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift, she said, and often would get called in to work on her days off.

She still runs into a former colleague, Fernando Jimenez, from time to time, she said, and they reminisce about their time at the Coronet.

Known for its 1940s theme, the Coronet — founded by Nicholas Drossos — serves homemade breakfasts and lunches. Ms. Kruszeski said Mr. King was known for his homemade blueberry muffins and the homemade chowder he cooked each year for the Greenport Fire Department parade.

In addition to the food and atmosphere, the Coronet has been a center for town discussions.

“They always said you could tell who was going to win the local election before the election based on what you heard in the Coronet,” Mr. Ostroski said.

Gail Horton, president of the Stirling Historical Society in Greenport, recalled the Coronet as the unofficial town forum. She said she remembered sitting in the restaurant with former mayor George Hubbard Sr. every Saturday and how shop owners and town citizens would stop in to discuss their problems.

“You run your campaign out of there,” said Ms. Horton, who was a village trustee at the time.

In the mid-1980s, after winning an election, Ms. Horton said she walked into the Coronet for coffee, as she did most days, and received a standing ovation.

“A place like that just generates such a good feeling about a village,” she said.

The Coronet has not only served as a popular destination for food but as a source of employment for many people over the years.

“If you look at all the owners and all of their employees, it was like half of town probably worked at the Coronet at one time,” Mr. Ostroski said.

During his time as the restaurant’s owner, Mr. Ostroski ran the Coronet Coffee Club, which had the slogan “Often in error, never in doubt.” At times, celebrities like Billy Joel and Drew Barrymore blended in with the crowd. Harrison Ford was also known to frequent the Coronet, Mr. Ostroski said, recalling that Mr. Ford sat at the bar eating a cheeseburger and fries.

“You never knew what was going to happen,” he said.

While the end is near for the Coronet, Mr. Ostroski said he’s enthusiastic to see what the future holds for the owners of Crazy Beans.

“It will be fun,” he said.

The transition’s exact timing has not yet been set.

Sarah Phillips, president of Greenport’s Business Improvement District, said residents will have similar dining options at Crazy Beans as they do at the Coronet.

Menu items will range from multi-grain waffles to avocado BLTs, french toast, pancake specials, quesadillas and more. The café boasts more than 30 different flavored lattes that can be made hot or iced.

“I think they are going to be a really great fit for Greenport,” Ms. Phillips said.

Mr. Ostroski said he also thinks the new business will thrive. His generation has moved on, he said.

“It’s time for a new tradition to be formed in Greenport,” he said.

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Photo: The Coronet Luncheonette, located at the corner of Front and Main streets in Greenport, has been in business since 1949 and is now on its sixth owner. The restaurant still has the same soda fountains and shake blenders as it did when it opened. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

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