The Riverhead Project opens; Cody’s BBQ to follow

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Owner Dennis McDermott at The Riverhead Project bar on Monday after wrapping up his first weekend open for business.

One new restaurant has just opened in downtown Riverhead. And another is on the way.

The Riverhead Project, owned by Dennis McDermott and located in the former Chase bank building on East Main Street, officially opened for business Friday. It will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, just a few blocks to the west on East Main Street, Cody’s BBQ and Grill is slated to open in mid-June in the space formerly occupied by Casa Rica, said Vic Prusinowski, a commercial real estate agent who is managing the business.

Mr. McDermott, who formerly owned the Frisky Oyster and Frisky Oyster Bar restaurants in Greenport, said it took him only five months between the time he took over the building and the time the restaurant opened.

“Riverhead Town has been very helpful and supportive,” he said, naming Supervisor Sean Walter, building inspector Leroy Barnes and community development director Chris Kempner specifically.

Mr. McDermott described the menu at the Riverhead Project as “contemporary American, with Asian and vegetarian influences,” and the decor as “the current version of mid-century modern, with a little Palm Springs and Miami  influences.”

He described the Main Street location as ideal.

“I have a lot of faith in Riverhead,” he said. “It has so much potential. Everybody I meet is wonderful. I went to the Star Confectionery recently, great guy. Everything that’s occupied is wonderful.”

Cody’s BBQ and Grill, meanwhile, hasn’t even opened yet and is drawing raves for some of the murals on the wall.

They’ve got one of Buffalo Bill Cody riding a bull, and another of “a big American flag with our Cowboy girl,” said Mr. Prusinowski, also a former Riverhead Town councilman.

The murals were painted by artist and blues musician Frank Latorre of Eastport, who was recommended by East End Arts Council executive director Pat Snyder, Mr. Prusinowski said.

“We had some price quotes from guys in New York City, but we went with the local guy,” he said. “He did a beautiful job. Everybody’s talking about our murals.”

As for the restaurant, it will be “family-style barbecue,” Mr. Prusinowski said. “We’ll have steaks, burgers, seafood and also authentic barbecue fair. Basically, everything you would expect from a barbecue restaurant.”

Cody’s also will be a sports bar, with 10 televisions situated throughout the restaurant, Mr. Prusinowski said. It will be located in the same formerly occupied by Casa Rica, which was closed down earlier this year after numerous violent incidents were reported there, and the state moved to revoke their liquor license.

Building owner Richard Gherardi had operated a restaurant there himself, called Michael’s, prior to Casa Rica. Mr. Gherardi also has a restaurant in East Hampton, where he lives.

Mr. Prusinowski said he had been in the restaurant business himself many years ago, running the now-gone Grey Goose in Aquebogue.

“I think we have a good business model here,” Mr. Prusinowski said. “We’re doing our part to bring back Riverhead.”

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Check out more Riverhead Project photos at its Facebook fan page.