07/03/13 12:00pm
07/03/2013 12:00 PM

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Vine & Hops Café is expected to open on East Main Street in downtown Riverhead later this summer.

A Jamesport couple plans to open a new wine, beer and coffee shop called Vines & Hops Café in downtown Riverhead next month.

Jeff McKay, a strength and conditioning coach who will be operating the 2,200 square-foot café with his wife, physical therapist Christine McKay, told the News-Review the East Main Street café will offer wine from the North Fork and California along with gourmet coffee and a variety of local craft beers.

“I’ve always wanted to get into the hospitality business and it just formulated in my head because there was nothing out here on the East End like this,” Mr. McKay said.

Artisan food prepared by the North Fork Chocolate Company including cheese platters, flatbread, chocolates and truffles will also be on the menu, which Mr. McKay said will change slightly according to season.

The space will also include couches, televisions in the “beer section,” and a gift shop area where customers can purchase gift baskets.The business will only serve wine that has a 90-point or higher distinction of greatness from Wine Spectator magazine.

“We want to bring quality products,” Mr. McKay said of the café, which he describes as having a “European feel, right down to the lighting.”

“The prices will be extremely affordable, though,” he said.

Vines & Hops Café will be located next to TheWarStore.com, a game shop that opened last month. Both rental properties, along with Twin Forks Bicycles, are owned by Riverhead Enterprises.

“This is the sixth new lease in an 18-month period that we’ve signed,” said Sheldon Gordon, the managing general partner of Riverhead Enterprises. “It’s been remarkable what the interest coming to downtown has been. It’s quite gratifying.”

In Mr. McKay’s estimation, downtown Riverhead is close to being an ideal location for Vines & Hops Café.

“We looked at [opening the shop] in Greenport but it didn’t appeal to us because the winters are so slow there,” Mr. McKay said. “With the theater open and businesses are starting to pop up, we thought, ‘Let’s take advantage of the opportunity and settle into downtown Riverhead.’”

Once the shop opens, Mr. McKay and his wife plan to encourage customers to kick back and relax with their favorite drink.

“We consider ourselves the ‘before’ and ‘after’ place – you can come here before a show or a movie,” Mr. McKay said. “People will be able to come and recognize their favorite beverage and have it in a comfortable atmosphere. It’s not a bar and it’s not a restaurant.

“It’ll be as if you’re home in your living room.”

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03/03/13 10:00am
03/03/2013 10:00 AM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The grand ballroom at Saturday's grand re-opening gala.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTOS | The Suffolk Theater’s grand ballroom at Saturday’s grand re-opening gala.

Opening night at the newly restored Suffolk Theatre in downtown Riverhead was a show stopper.

Hundreds packed the venue on Saturday to celebrate the theater’s grand reopening. The “Back to the 30’s” cocktail party marked the first time the theater has been open for business since it screened “Dirty Dancing” in 1987.

“We’re tired, but it feels great,” owner Bob Castaldi said. “This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

The theater first opened in December 1933. More than 80 years later, it remains the last large art deco theater on Long Island, theater officials say.

After buying the theater in 2005, and after litigation with the town halted progress on work, Mr. Castaldi and his wife, Dianne, have spent the last three years restoring the theatre to its former glory. Most of the fixtures and detailing are true to the original building.

Massapequa resident Jim Frost took notice. He recalled coming to the theater as a young boy. On grand opening night — a night two swiveling spotlights shot light back and forth off the clouds, and Main Street was lined with vintage cars —  he took his wife, Mimi, to enjoy the celebration and reminisce.

“It’s wonderful,” Frost said. “We bought tickets right away. I haven’t been this excited about an event in a long time.”

There was no stone left unturned, right down to the ragtime music gracing the stage. The party came to life with the help of Vince Giordano’s band, The Night Hawks. The ensemble won a 2012 best compilation soundtrack Grammy for its work on HBO’s prohibition-era series Boardwalk Empire.

Party guests indulged in the era. They dressed for the occasion and were sure to hit the dance floor.

“This has been something I’ve been talking about since I was 10,” explained Erin McKenna, whose mother has volunteered during the restoration. Ms. McKenna now lives in New York City but made a special trip to support the theater.

Many believe the theater is going to help the long-beleaguered downtown area start attracting much more people and businesses.

“It’s finally here,” Ms. McKenna said. “This is so important for Riverhead.”

The grand opening gala officially ended about9 p.m., but not many noticed. The party continued well into the night, as DJ Aly Di Nas kept guests dancing at the after party that featured signature cocktails.

In the upcoming weeks and months, the Suffolk Theatre will showcase a variety of classic movies, hold live concerts and dance parties and even a couple of magic shows.

To check out the full list of upcoming events, log on to www.suffolktheater.com

03/01/13 1:08pm
03/01/2013 1:08 PM
Read all about Suffolk Theater in Riverhead

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Newsies Nicholas Inzerillo and Shane Westphelan, both of Manorville, hand out theater programs.

More than 100 people turned out Friday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at downtown Riverhead’s newly renovated Suffolk Theater.

The area of East Main Street outside the theater had been shut to traffic for most of the morning, as crowds gathered to listen to period music from Bob Barta and the Sunnyland Jazz Band, which performed on a red carpet under the theater’s digital marquis — as bubbles rained from the sky.

Theater ownes Bob and Dianne Castaldi and theater executive director Bob Spiotto were joined by town officials, county lawmakers and representatives of county Executive Steve Bellone and New York Governor Andew Cuomo.

Officials agreed the theater will help in the continued revival of downtown and act as a magnet to attract new business.

01/08/13 10:00am
01/08/2013 10:00 AM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Architect Martin Sendlewski presents the plans for the Woolworth building at the Riverhead IDA meeting Monday evening.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Architect Martin Sendlewski presents the plans for the Woolworth building at the Riverhead IDA meeting Monday evening.

Riverhead Industrial Development Agency members discussed setting milestones to determine what tax breaks to grant developers — and when to grant them — of East Main Street’s largely vacant Woolworth building after a public hearing on the project Monday evening.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Woolworth building has been largely vacant since the former five-and-dime store closed in 1997.

Representatives for Woolworth Revitalization LLC, the company behind the proposal, said the redeveloped building would be a mixed-use construction project with storefronts on the first floor and about 20 apartments on the second floor.

“We’re very excited about this project,” said Sag Harbor resident Michael Butler, who is heading the project. “We think it’s going to be a very good one for downtown Riverhead.”

The ground floor of the building would feature 25,000 square feet of commercial space, with 15,000 square feet of studio and one-bedroom apartments on the second floor, he said.

Mr. Butler said the group is looking to invest between $5 million and $6 million into the long-neglected building to renovate and make repairs.

Riverhead architect Martin Sendlewski, who presented plans of what the interior space would include, said it would be cheaper to renovate the building than tear it down, despite its current state.

The group requested the IDA grant tax breaks on sales, mortgage and real estate taxes in order to keep yearly costs down while renovating the structure.

After the hearing was closed, board members agreed the project was “vital” for Riverhead, and discussed setting up milestones that would need to be met for the developers to qualify for tax breaks.

One hypothetical milestone would give a 25 percent abatement on the difference between total assessed and land value if the developers had a renovated commercial space available.

That abatement would increase up to 100 percent if the construction were to progress to having apartments ready on the second floor.

“If he doesn’t get anything done, he gets no abatement,” said IDA executive director Tracy Stark-James. Members of the board said they supported the idea.

“This is perfect because we’re not swinging in the breeze on it,” said board member Dawn Thomas.

Representatives from the Woolworth developers and the IDA will meet to negotiate the exact milestones. The group said they expect to close on the property in February and begin construction work right away.

While no one spoke at the public hearing, representatives from the Suffolk Theater attended to learn more about the proposed project next-door.

“I think there’s a lot of promise here,” said Suffolk Theater executive director Bob Spiotto after the hearing.

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