With the first green hues appearing on trees and lawns comes the emergence of the North Fork restaurant scene that in many quarters has remained quiet through the winter months.
With spring upon us, downtown Greenport is seeing changes in two local restaurants. Rhumbline, on Front Street, is undergoing a sea change with its menu and some internal renovations, and the former Bay & Main in Stirling Square, on Main Street, will open as North Fork Oyster by mid-April.
North Fork Oyster owners Farouk and Sana Ahmad will feature fresh fish and produce. They plan to abandon the loud music that once attracted many young people on weekend nights, to the consternation of neighbors. They complained about not only the music but also about the frequent visits by Southold Police to quell disagreements that sometimes spilled out from the restaurant onto surrounding streets.
North Fork Oyster will be a family restaurant catering to children as well as adults, the Ahmads said. They hired restaurateur Dan Reyburn, who has owned his own restaurants, as manager.
Family is important to the Ahmads. They said their decision to open the restaurant was made in consultation with their children, who weighed in on its ambiance and menu.
This isn’t the couple’s first venture into the restaurant business. They own a 300-seat establishment in Edgewater, N.J., although they don’t manage it. They own Stirling Square itself, where Mr. Ahmad opened a coffee and gelato shop last year, and they rent to other businesses in the square.
“This is where we believe we belong,” Mr. Ahmad said. They came to the United States from the Middle East 36 years ago and lived in New York City and New Jersey before moving to Greenport.
“This country adopted us and we adopted the United States,” Mr. Ahmad said. “We love the people in Greenport” and have made many friends in the few years they have been coming here.
“The place has a lot of history,” Mr. Ahmad said about the restaurant that operated for years as the Cinnamon Tree.
“We want to bring back those memories,” his wife said.
“We’re going to reinvent it to be a good clean family place,” he said.
They may have some music inside, but it will be in keeping with the ambiance of a family restaurant, and if they do have live music on the patio, it won’t be raucous, they said.
Prices will be moderate, Mr. Ahmad said, noting that he wants to appeal to locals as well as summer visitors.
At Rhumbline, owned since 2008 by brothers Zorzis and George Raptopoulos of East Marion, a menu change will reflect their Greek heritage. They have always had some Greek food on the menu but plan to make Greek cuisine the focus of their offerings.
They closed last weekend to renovate the interior, including the installation of a glass partition to separate the dining area from the rest of the restaurant. And they’ll be displaying raw fish and steaks in the window to lure in customers.
Like the Ahmads, the Raptopouloses have operated the restaurant as a family venture, with Zorzis handling the bar while George functions as chef, cooking up vegetables from the garden of his father, Peter.