North Fork residents curious about who might purchase the Claudio’s restaurant complex in Greenport got their first clue in this week’s issue of The Suffolk Times.
The Village of Greenport published a legal notice (see below) stating that a new liquor license application for Claudio’s Main Street address was filed with the New York State Liquor Authority this month.
Claudio’s co-owner Bill Claudio said this week the property has not yet been sold, but a potential owner, Michael Barrett, has begun taking steps in case a deal is finalized.
“He’s proceeding on the idea that somewhere down the road, he will purchase it,” Mr. Claudio said. “Right now, he’s trying to get a jump on it for liquor licenses for operations.”
The legal notice indicated that Mr. Barrett applied for the liquor license on behalf of himself “or an entity still to be formed.” Mr. Claudio said he didn’t know much about Mr. Barrett’s background but described him as a “very nice guy.”
“He loves the East End and he is looking at Claudio’s with the idea he could move his family out here,” Mr. Claudio said.
Sources told The Suffolk Times it is the same Michael Barrett who has been a partner at several New York City and Hamptons eateries and night spots, including the former China Club in Midtown west, The Tippler in Chelsea Market and the Shagwong in Montauk. Attempts to reach that Mr. Barrett were unsuccessful this week.
Greenport Mayor George Hubbard confirmed that the liquor license had been applied for, but said he has not met with any potential buyer for the property.
New York City real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield was accepting offers for the property this summer. Guthrie Garvin, executive director with Cushman and Wakefield’s Forest Hills office, told The Suffolk Times in July that he couldn’t disclose the number of bids received, but that there was “pretty steady interest.” Mr. Garvin did not respond to an email Saturday seeking information about the potential sale.
The Claudio family announced in January that they were selling their two-acre waterfront property, which includes the namesake Claudio’s as well as Crabby Jerry’s and Claudio’s Clam Bar. The listing portfolio said the complex was expected to generate nearly $8 million in revenues in 2015.
“I’m 76 years old and I think it may be time to retire,” Mr. Claudio told northforker.com in January. “If it happens, it happens.”
In addition to its existing assets, the property allows for up to 50,000 square feet of additional construction without disturbing the current restaurants, so long as owners acquire village approval, according to the portfolio.
The Claudio family has owned what was first opened by Manuel Claudio as Claudio’s Tavern since 1870, making it the longest continually owned family restaurant in the United States. in For the past 26 years, Claudio’s has been perhaps most closely associated with Mr. Claudio, though his family’s business, which has expanded to include the neighboring Claudio’s Clam Bar and Crabby Jerry’s, is owned by a corporation that includes his wife, Jan, sisters Kathy and Beatrice, and Jerry Tuthill, Beatrice’s husband. They purchased Claudio’s in 1989 from Bill’s father, William Claudio Sr., who had owned the popular bar and restaurant since 1930.
Mr. Claudio said in January that he expects new owners to keep the restaurant close to the same.
“They are not going to want to change anything that we’ve been so successful at for 145 years,” he said. “They are going to want to see how we do it, learn how we do it.”
Rumors have floated around Greenport all year as to who might by the restaurant. Sunset Beach owner Andre Balazs and Paul Monte former CEO and now senior advisor of Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa have been among those rumored to be interested in purchasing the property. Each time, Mr. Claudio has refuted those claims.
Mr. Claudio estimated Friday that the current ownership group has had discussions with more than 20 potential buyers for the property since it has owned the complex.
“If it happens this time, I can finally sit back,” Mr. Claudio said Friday.