08/05/18 5:59am
08/05/2018 5:59 AM

I’ve had the privilege of growing up on the East End and I am sad to say that I no longer recognize my home. Over the course of my life, the East End has become an increasingly popular tourist destination. While I am aware this trend has been beneficial for local businesses, I believe we are reaching a tipping point. These past two years I have been away at college and the shock wave that hits me each time I come home for the summer has left me wondering what happened. READ

09/29/15 7:00pm
09/29/2015 7:00 PM

Steve Bellone

Members of the East End Tourism Alliance asked County Executive Steve Bellone to increase the amount of tourism funding they get through an existing 3-percent county room occupancy tax at a meeting in Riverhead Tuesday. READ

05/11/15 4:02pm
05/11/2015 4:02 PM
State comptroller Tom DiNapoli. (Credit. Flickr/nycomptroller)

State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. (Credit. Flickr/nycomptroller)

A high profile $211 million local business and tourism advertising campaign championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo lacks the performance measures needed to determine if the spending has been a wise decision, according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. (more…)

04/01/15 5:11pm
04/01/2015 5:11 PM
The Pour the Core hard cider festival at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue in October attracted a big crowd. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

The Pour the Core hard cider festival at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue in October attracted a big crowd. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

A quiet summer Sunday drive on the North Fork of Long Island — zipping past farm stands and rows of vines — may be a thing of the past. Thanks to an increase of tourism, the area is certainly changing and shows no sign of slowing down, longtime business owners and residents say.

And according to data from Southold Town, tourists are being drawn to the area for more special events than ever before. That means more festivals, more wine tastings, more fundraisers and especially more weddings.  (more…)

10/20/13 8:00am
10/20/2013 8:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The lure of pumpkin picking is one reason traffic tends to get crazy on weekends during the fall.

I love my commute to work. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one around here who considers it a privilege to be able to drive Sound Avenue and other scenic routes in the area during their daily commute. Driving into – or even away from – a rising sun while farmers tend their fields or passing a tractor rolling along seems to offer a sense of “away-from-it-all” peace that, for me at least, makes the daily drive pretty enjoyable.

Then comes the weekend.

JOSEPH PINCIARO

JOSEPH PINCIARO

Particularly this time of year, as most of us know, those drives — though you’re often not doing too much actual “driving,” but rather “slowly traveling” — can easily become a little less enjoyable.

Yes, it’s pumpkin-picking season. Corn maze season. Apple-picking season.

If you haven’t already, you’ll probably read plenty on Facebook or maybe hear it in the grocery store about those dreaded tourists, the people from “up west” who annually swarm the slice of heaven we’re blessed to be able to call home year-round. They’ll pay someone to harvest their crops for them (extra points for the farmer who thought that one up!), the young-uns will post some selfies on Instagram (look guys, no pavement!) and someone might even bring grandma out into the farm in an electric wheelchair (I actually saw that one last weekend).

What they’re all doing, ultimately, is clogging up all these one-horse (or five-lane) roads and getting in our way as we just try to get our hair cut or make a trip to the hardware store.

They really should just go back to where they came from and leave us all alone, right?

I honestly doubt many people out there think all tourists should leave us alone. But what do we do exactly — close the gates at the Brookhaven Town border?

I grew up in the suburbs of Boston, a place people don’t really travel to. They live there, as do their family and friends, and they have fun together and watch the Red Sox together and make plenty of beautiful memories there. And they travel short distances when they want to be somewhere different for a weekend or so. Now, I happen to live in that place I used to travel to.

So I guess I don’t really get some of the complaints about tourists. If someone’s drive is delayed 20 minutes because people are dragging their bags of pumpkins across the street and wheeling their kids down the road in their wagons, to me that means a lot of people really wanted to come to the area I live in. Which I think is pretty neat.

I do hear horror stories about the way some tourists behave. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all tourists are angels or that dealing with agritourism traffic couldn’t be improved. But let’s not let a few bad apples spoil the bunch. And we’ve all heard that saying about people in glass houses (not greenhouses), right?

I was told by Joe Gergela, executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, that from Labor Day through the end of October, agritourism will generate anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of the annual revenue that comes into the farms that I’m able to enjoy long after those families are gone, the pumpkins rotted on their doorsteps. Agriculture as a whole in Suffolk County leads the state in terms of sales dollars generated, according to a 2010 study, bringing in over $240 million. And Cornell University found in the early 2000s that over 70 percent of farm owners said their agritourist customers were repeat customers, while nearly half of the customers themselves reported spending money at those destinations on more than one occasion.

I’m not exactly sure what all those numbers mean when it comes down to a direct impact on my pocket.

But if working around really bad traffic for a few weekends — or just staying home and doing work around the house or watching college football — is part of the cost of maintaining those morning drives on Sound Avenue while most of the tourists are taking the LIRR, I’ll take it.

Joseph Pinciaro is the managing editor of The News-Review. He can be reached at [email protected] or 631-298-3200, ext. 238. Follow him on Twitter @cjpinch.

10/02/13 10:00am
10/02/2013 10:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A pilot shuttle bus program will transport people to wineries, hamlets and local businesses this Veterans Day weekend.

The Southold Economic Development Committee is partnering with the North Fork Promotion Council to host a meeting for Southold businesses to learn about efforts to extend the tourist season.

The forum comes as part of a major public relations effort and significant advertising campaign for Taste North Fork, a new pilot shuttle bus service to connect wineries, hamlets and local businesses this Veterans Day weekend.

The pilot program is being made possible through a portion of a $335,000 “I Love NY” grant, aiming to help promote agritourism on the East End, according to the East End Tourism Alliance.

During the joint meeting, local business owners will be asked to weigh in on the planning process for the event and brainstorm activities to make the implementation of this grant a major success, according to Southold Town.

The meeting will be held on Monday, Oct. 7 at 6 p.m. at the Peconic Lane Community Center Peconic Lane, next to the Recreation Center.

[email protected]

09/13/13 4:54pm
09/13/2013 4:54 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | A slow weekend was unheard of at Claudio’s Clam Bar in Greenport this summer, which some local business owners said was the village’s busiest in recent memory.

Maybe it was fate that led Jane and Gary Ash to return to Greenport this summer for the second time in their lives.

Several years had passed since the Massachusetts couple’s first visit to the North Fork, which occurred, Ms. Ash recalled, on a particularly rainy May weekend when most of the businesses were closed. Since going to the beach was out of the question, the Ashes caught an early ferry out of Orient Point, returning home with plans to maybe revisit some day.

That day finally came in August when the Ashes, who are avid Studebaker collectors, traveled to Coram to purchase an engine for one of their cars. Wanting to give Greenport another go, they booked a room in the village and were pleasantly surprised by what they discovered.

“It was lively and fun,” Ms. Ash said. “What impressed us the most was how many people were out enjoying the evening. It was a great mix of people.”

The Ashes are not the only ones who discovered the charm of the North Fork this summer.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastating impact on popular summer spots like Fire Island and parts of the Jersey Shore, those in the local tourism and hospitality industries are reporting one of the most successful summer seasons on record.

Greenporter Hotel owner Deborah Rivera Pittorino told The Suffolk Times in April that the hotel was already sold out for weekends through the summer months. The staff at the hotel said this week that the busy summer has now extended through September.

“Every weekend we had full occupancy,” said Greenporter employee Kim Rosen. “Even the next four weekends from now we are at full capacity.”

She said most of the visitors were coming from New York City and Connecticut – a trend that was reflected throughout the region.

“We have been seeing a lot of new visitors all across the North Fork,” said Steve Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine Council and a board member of the East End Tourism Alliance. He credits the influx in part to positive coverage the area has received from national news organizations. Wineries, in particular, have reported a spike this summer, according to Long Island Wine Council president Ron Goerler Jr.

“August has been tremendous,” said Mr. Goerler, owner of Jamesport Vineyards. “This is the largest turnout we’ve ever seen. Whether it’s their first time here or they have rediscovered it – people are here.”

More visitors has meant more business for local shops, particularly in Greenport.

“It was the best summer we’ve had,” said Shelley Scoggin, owner of The Market in Greenport, which first opened in 1987. “We were really, really busy and Greenport was busier than ever.”

Even before the season began, Greenport Village Business Improvement District director Peter Clark predicted a tourism surge in the waterfront village this year.

In anticipation, the BID developed new maps and signage to outline the business district for visitors and sponsored a number of events to attract tourists.

The preparation started before Christmas, as the BID worked to let the public know that Greenport is open for business and the majority of storefronts weren’t destroyed in the storm.

Infrastructure was even improved in Greenport this summer, Mr. Clark said. The recently completed electrical upgrade to the east pier at Mitchell Park Marina has already reached its goal of luring mega yachts to Greenport Harbor, according to village administrator David Abatelli. In August, usage of the marina was up 35 percent compared with this time last year, which brought in about $180,000 in additional revenue for the village in just one month, he said.

“I’m happy to say it is attributed to the yachts,” Mr. Abatelli said. “July was better than last year, too, but August was exceptional, especially for the marina.”

Now that the season is winding down, Mr. Clark said the planning has paid off.

“People have fallen in love with the assets of our area,” he said. “I know we’ve had more traffic for sure. The marina has been full and mega yachts have been docking. People are interested in coming to Greenport. It’s excellent.”

The tremendous push made by the BID and the village to restore the waterfront community has not gone unnoticed by visitors.

“We are fans of anywhere they’ve succeeded in making the downtown attractive and vibrant,” Ms. Ash said. “Greenport has a great mix of old and new. It’s a hard balance for many towns to maintain.”

[email protected]

08/04/13 8:00am
08/04/2013 8:00 AM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | A reality television show led a Times/Review intern to ask around this week about the silly things tourists say.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | A reality television show led a Times/Review intern to ask around this week about the silly things tourists say.

“We’re gonna go to the wine vineyards,” the young woman said.

“Where?” her friend asked.

“In, like, North Fork,” she responded.

This was an exchange between two stars on the last episode of the reality TV show “Princesses: Long Island,” the latest offering from Bravo. Though the girls on the show hail from Nassau County, they ventured out to the Sparkling Pointe vineyard in Southold for the July 28 episode.

Reactions to our homeland were varied: One girl compared the vineyard to the Garden of Eden, while another actually relieved herself in between the rows of grapes.

As drama ensued, one character cried to her parents on the phone, asking if there were an airport nearby so she could take a private jet back to her hometown. As she started walking to Route 48, her friend screamed, “Don’t walk toward the freeway!”

Finally, as the crying girl explained to the camera that she just wanted to leave, she lamented, “But we’re in the middle of nowhere.”

The princesses’ take on the North Fork can’t help but evoke memories of the different ways tourists react to our communities on Long Island’s East End.

It inspired me to ask around this week uncover some of the funny, absurd and borderline insulting things folks in the local tourist industry have heard out-of-towners say.

I left out their names and kept their businesses out of the piece in an effort to encourage them to share the really good stuff.

ON THE FARM

“This one guy asked us, ‘How many seeds are in your tomatoes?’ We said we really didn’t know, so he had us cut them open and look. He said he liked to eat his tomatoes like apples and didn’t like a lot of seeds.”

farm stand employee, Mattituck

“My friend works as a waitress out here and one time a little kid ordered a glass of milk to drink and his dad said to him, ‘It’s gonna take a little while because they have to go out back and milk the cow. We’re in the country and that’s how they do it out here.’”

restaurant worker, Riverhead

“One time, this lady came in and she looks outside and then at me and goes, ‘Are the animals out there real?’ I just stared at her for a minute because I was thinking, ‘Is this lady for real?’ Then I just said, ‘Yes.’ ”

farmer, Cutchogue

Out to eat

“Once this guy came in at like 11:55 p.m., we close at midnight, and he was sitting at the bar. He looked at me and said, ‘Hey, you, call a cab would ya?’ The bartender was like, ‘This is the North Fork; we don’t have cabs.’ ”

restaurant worker, Southold

“While I was working, tourists came in and sat at one of the tables up against the wall that used to be a booth. After I cleared their dishes and was at the counter, just like seven feet away, one woman very loudly said, ‘Service these days. Whatever happened to serve from the left, take from the right?’ which was physically impossible without taking their plates through the window outside. Then the other woman said, ‘I guess they don’t do that out here.’ ”

restaurant worker, Southold Town

“We get lavish requests for sandwiches sometimes. When we ring them up, people are always surprised and comment how the Hamptons is so much more expensive. They are also always asking where the wineries are and where ‘Herbie’s Farm’ is.”

deli worker, Mattituck

OUT AND ABOUT

“One time my friend and I were at Scoops eating ice cream and a group of tourists came up to us and were whispering really loudly, like ‘Oh my gosh, they must be locals’ and gawking at us like we were animals at the zoo.”

Cutchogue resident

“I was on the Cross Sound Ferry in June and a lady was telling her son to wave goodbye to the Hamptons.”

store clerk, Mattituck

Of course this column is meant to be funny. I recognize the tourism economy is a great thing for my hometown and most of the folks who come out here get what we’re all about.

Just do me a favor, though, next time you come visit: Try not to pee in the vineyard.

Ms. Leaden is a student at Manhattan College. She lives in Cutchogue and worked at Times/Review Newsgroup this summer as an intern on a New York Press Association scholarship. She can be reached at [email protected].