Business

North Fork Table & Inn sold to NYC hospitality group, ‘local investors’

North Fork Table & Inn, widely regarded as a top restaurant on Long Island, has been sold.

The new owners of the popular Southold restaurant, which closed for the winter season for the first time in its nearly 14-year history, include a Michelin-starred chef and a group of North Fork investors, according to a press release.

John Fraser of the New York hospitality group JF Restaurants, which operates popular NYC spots like The Loyal, 701 West and Ardor, was the only partner named in the announcement.

“Early in my career, I spent summers working on Long Island and am excited to return,” he said in a statement. “It’s such a special part of the world, with a vibrant wine and food scene anchored by a tight-knit farming community. I’m really looking forward to welcoming everyone back to see the changes.”

Mr. Fraser said former North Fork Table & Inn co-owner Claudia Fleming will remain pastry chef and executive chef Brian Wilson will also remain involved when the restaurant reopens this summer.

Ms. Fleming said in the release that she was glad to leave the restaurant in “safe hands.”

“I’m looking forward to working with John and his team on the next chapter of North Fork Table, but also having more time for other creative projects, including my next cookbook,” she said.

News of pending changes at the acclaimed restaurant broke in a pair of social media posts last month when the restaurant said it was closing its doors. It clarified in a new post the following day that the move would be seasonal.

“It will be a little while between drinks but we’re not going anywhere,” the restaurant posted on Instagram and Facebook a day after a post and newsletter that began by informing followers that “after fourteen beautiful years, we will be closing our doors after dinner service on New Year’s Eve.” The second post clarified that the restaurant would reopen in summer 2020 and its popular food truck would open sooner.

While the new owners declined to name any other partners in their announcement, local businessman Jonathan Tibett confirmed Wednesday that he was one of the investors involved in the purchase.

He said he’s thrilled to support the next chapter of the famed restaurant. “As a Southold resident with an interest in history, I’m very honored to be involved in the community’s hospitality scene, which carries such a strong sense of place,” Mr. Tibett said. “I’ve shared many special meals at the [North Fork Table & Inn] with my family and friends, and look forward to its re-opening this summer.”

Mr. Tibett recently developed the nearby Einstein Square at the former Rothman’s Department Store site and is also proposing a 44-room hotel and restaurant complex, The Enclaves, just west of North Fork Table & Inn on the Main Road in Southold. The latter project has been met with public opposition at recent town hearings. 

North Fork Table & Inn was opened in May 2006 by acclaimed husband and wife chefs Gerry Hayden and Claudia Fleming and business partners Mike and Mary Mraz. Its opening, in a renovated building that had previously been the home of La Gazelle, a French restaurant and bed and breakfast, is often credited as a major turning point in the farm-to-table movement on the North Fork. From its inception, the restaurant has been a champion of sourcing from local ingredients, an approach also reflected in its wine list.

“I have so much respect for what Claudia, Gerry, Mike and Mary have built at North Fork Table, and am so grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Claudia as we start this new chapter for the restaurant,” Mr. Fraser said in his statement. “It’s a beautiful historic building, so we want to gently restore the property while preserving its essential character and spirit.”

The property was placed on the market in 2014 after Mr. Hayden was diagnosed with the neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He died a year later.

In its nearly 14 years of existence the restaurant has been a launchpad for the careers of many local cooks and restaurateurs, who under the tutelage of the James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Ms. Fleming and James Beard finalist Mr. Hayden, refined their skills. And even after Mr. Hayden’s passing, the restaurant continued to earn rave reviews and remained a go-to spot for foodies.

The sale price for the restaurant, which was first listed for sale at $3.8 million more than five years ago and was most recently listed for $1.6 million this fall, was not immediately released. The selling broker for the transaction was International Financial Group Ltd, Douglas Cabral.