Thirteen years ago, Phil Mannino and his family came to the North Fork. They were looking for something different than the restaurants they owned on the bustling South Fork in Bridgehampton and elsewhere.
“I got a pretty good taste of the North Fork and the taste I got, I liked,” he said last month, just days after that long meal finally ended with the Manninos handing over control of O’Mally’s in Southold to new ownership.
For Mr. Mannino, who took the trip from Bridgehampton across the ferry to Southold six days a week while running the restaurant, the commute just became too much.
“It’s just been great. It’s really been a great experience,” he said. “The place is wonderful, I love it … If it wasn’t so far I’d still be there.”
O’Mally’s was one of 21 restaurants Mr. Mannino has run since he first got started in the restaurant business as a bartender in his brother’s bar in Bridgehampton 50 years ago.
Mr. Mannino stepped in at O’Mally’s in 2001. He said the family tried to keep it a friendly environment for locals, even going so far as to hire a magician to perform at the restaurant on Saturdays.
“Every day was a great memory,” he said.
The restaurant was sold last month to Jimmy and Kelly Kokotas, a couple that has run restaurants in Brooklyn.
Steve Pablatos, who’s taken over as manager, said the new ownership is keeping all the traditions at O’Mally’s.
“We’re going to continue everything he had, plus we’re going to update the menu with some new stuff,” he said. “Pastas and fish dishes, also some scallops. We’re planning to open up for lunch too.”
Mr. Pablatos said it was important for the new owners to connect with the locals on the North Fork.
“We’re trying to do the best for the people in the community here,” he said. Mr. Kokotas is planning to come back to New York after spending some time in Florida, Mr. Pablatos said. He couldn’t be reached for comment.
Mr. Mannino said he’s sure the restaurant is in good hands. With O’Mally’s off his plate, Mr. Mannino said he’s planning to rest for a while. But he’s sure he’ll be back in the restaurant business again soon, ready to begin the next phase of his career.
“It’ll be time for the second half to start,” he said.