Love Lane Market will likely open in February

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Love Lane Market co-owner Michael Avella with the new gas/wood fired pizza oven, which will be a centerpiece of the new market's food court. He hopes the store will be open by mid-February.

Behind the boarded-up storefront that was the Village Market on Love Lane, local contractors are at work creating a new space that is bound to be the object of many epicurean fantasies.

Love Lane Kitchen owners Michael and Patti Avella are planning to have their new Love Lane Market open by mid-February. They’ll have an on-site butcher, fresh local produce in season, gluten-free and vegetarian offerings, local eggs, micro-brewed beer, a pizza oven and food court, and a wide variety of specialty foods in the 3,000-square-foot retail space.
But there are two things that they decidedly won’t carry: cheese and chocolate.

“I have a very high opinion of the cheese shop across the street,” said Mr. Avella. “And we’ll have no chocolate counter. I’m a big fan of the Love Lane Sweet Shoppe.”

Coffee klatchers who used to gather at the counter to watch the streetscape through the plate glass windows at the Village Market can also take heart. The counter will remain, and a coffee bar is planned, serving the Kitchen’s own blend. A gelato bar will be in the corner of the shop closest to the post office, with a breakaway door that can be opened for service on the sidewalk in the summer.

The project hasn’t been without headaches, said Mr. Avella, who agreed to put a wooden safety facade over the front of the building this week when construction workers realized that the cement facade on the 70-plus-year-old building was unstable.
“Just like any building of that age, it needs some shoring up,” he said.

Mr. Avella said he hopes that the ambiance of the new shop reminds visitors of Zabar’s or Dean & Deluca in the city, where he said care is put into every item that is stocked on the shelves.

“We’ll have people who know what they’re talking about working here,” he said. “When you come into a store like that, you have questions. You might pick up a galangal in the produce section and not know what to do with it.”
Galangal is an Asian root that is related to ginger. It is just one of the many Asian products that the Avellas hope to stock in their shop.
The food court will have a wok station serving a variety of noodles, and sushi makings will be found in the store’s aisles.
“When we first started having Asian nights at the Kitchen, you couldn’t find a nori sheet on the North Fork,” said Mr. Avella, referring to a flat leaf of seaweed used as a wrap.

The space was designed by Chris Smith, a regular customer of the Love Lane Kitchen who has designed high-end restaurants all over the world. The Avellas had had no idea. Mr. Smith only mentioned his profession to them after hearing they had bought the market. They quickly signed him up.

“He’s a terrific guy, and he’s probably one of the top restaurant designers in the world,” said Mr. Avella.

Gabrielsen Builders of Jamesport are the general contractors. The HVAC work is being done by Kolb Mechanical of Mattituck. Custom Lighting of Suffolk, also of Mattituck, is doing the electrical work.

The Avellas estimate that they will employ between 30 and 40 local workers at the shop once it is open, in addition to the 30 or so people who work at the restaurant.

“The pricing will be extremely fair and reasonable,” said Jen Lew, who is helping to market the businesses. “We’re adding to the integrity of what is most certainly one of the most beautiful blocks on the East End.”

The Love Lane Market is taking suggestions for its retail offerings on its Facebook page, which is open to everyone.

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