Online match sparks ‘I do’ at Cliff’s Elbow Room

On Sunday, after a seven-year adventure, a colorful local couple got married at Cliff’s Elbow Room — the tiny tavern and grill in Jamesport where the widowers met for their first date.

Riverhead’s new town clerk, James Wooten — an old friend of the groom — married Vincent Spampinato, 71, and Suzanne Mitchell, 70, surrounded by a small coterie of relatives and friends. 

“This is a very special place for you two,” Mr. Wooten noted during the ceremony. 

The adventure began in 2017 on the online dating app OkCupid. Ms. Mitchell, who retired a few years ago after a half century in nursing, said it was her first and only online date. 

“It was a rare night because we’re usually so busy, but that night we were bored,” she said, referring to herself and a fellow nurse. “And that’s what happened: I just went on OkCupid. I’ve never done that before.”

She kept her expectations low. 

“I actually said we should meet at McDonald’s,” Ms. Mitchell recalled. “This way, the investment is just the dollar for a cup of coffee, because I was paying for myself and for him, maybe. But he said, ‘no, let’s go get lunch.’ ” 

They decided on Cliff’s Elbow Room.

“We split the bill,” she said. 

A few days later, Ms. Mitchell called him for a second date. 

“I decided that I wanted to see more of him,” she said. “And we found it weird, because we felt most unusually comfortable and we thought it was kind of weird that we did.”

In a separate interview, Mr. Spampinato concurred.

“We just hit it off,” he said. “We hit it off right away. We really did.”

He had been dating on the app for a couple of years.

“I got lucky. I found Suzanne. I did very well on the dating for an old guy for two years, but then I found her and I said to myself, ‘You know what? It’s time to stop right now. I’ve found the one.’ ”

Months passed and the romance blossomed. 

“I was at Disney with my sister and my niece and I realized that I really loved him,” Ms. Mitchell said. “I was very attracted to him. And I kind of let that slip to him [on the phone], and then I was like, ‘Oh s—!’”

Mr. Spampinato, who grew up in southern Queens, is retired from a career as a salesman, which included a stint on the sales team at Mattituck Sanitation [now Mattituck Environmental]. Ms. Mitchell grew up in Westchester and then moved around the South before settling in Shirley. 

While they were dating, they each had rescue dogs at home. Ms. Mitchell was still working as a nurse  in Bay Shore and spending a lot of time in Jamesport. 

“So I would go back to my dogs [in Shirley at night] and stay there. One day coming home from work I fell asleep. I said ‘that’s it. It’s too far a commute.’” 

“So we decided, ‘You know what? Let’s move in together and see how the dogs get along,’ ” Ms. Mitchell said. “And they love each other.”

In 2018, the couple moved into Mr. Spampinato’s South Jamesport Avenue home — “crawling distance from the Elbow Room” as he describes it.

Mr. Spampinato said his new bride has had a “rough kind of orthopedic run” lately. 

“In June, she had her knee replaced, and right after Thanksgiving she had one hip replaced and now she’s going to have the other hip replaced” later this month, he said. “She also had an entire mouth reconstruction. So she’s practically rebuilt just in time for the wedding.”

Their life together is rich with shared interests, including a trio of rescue dogs named Charlie, Pixie and June.

“We spend a lot of time looking at sunrises and sunsets because they’re all different depending on where you go,” Mr. Spampinato said. “We have some of our favorite places we like and when she is able to walk better, we hike around.” 

He said that the couple often catch sunrises at the southern end of their street, or head to Iron Pier Beach for sunsets. 

“Believe it or not — at this time of year anyway — one of the best places to see the sun set is along Laurel Lane between Peconic Bay Boulevard and the Main Road. Sometimes we just pull over there and you get some fantastic pictures.” 

They also love New Suffolk Beach

“We grab a coffee and a roll at Handy Pantry [in Mattituck] and we drive down to New Suffolk and hang out there and watch the sun rise, or the sun set,” Mr. Spampinato said. “Sometimes we just go in the middle of the day because sometimes, if the wind is hitting the water right, it looks like a million diamonds out there.” 

Ms. Mitchell said the she and “Vinny” just enjoy each other’s company.

“We were actually gardening together for a while, and then that sort of went by the wayside because my joints fell apart,” Ms. Mitchell said.

“We like to take rides together and eat and put on music, and just listen to it. We dance in the house sometimes.”

They love swing, big band and 1950s crooners. 

“We’re not the best dancers, but we don’t have to be. He loves Louis Prima and Keely Smith. He loves them. I like Dean Martin. 

“And then we love our good old-fashioned rock,” she said, adding “Like our song,” referring to Van Morrison’s rendition of “Have I Told You Lately.”

It was during a recent hospital stay that Ms. Mitchell and Mr. Spampinato got engaged. 

“He asked me — and he always asks me and I always said ‘no.’ ” 

This time, she said yes.

The venue seemed the perfect choice to the couple.

Getting married at Cliff’s Elbow Room “was our idea, and they were amenable to it,” Mr. Spampinato said. “I may not go there as often as I used to, but I’m kind of like a fixture in the neighborhood.”