12/05/13 3:12pm
12/05/2013 3:12 PM
MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO |  The doors have been closed at Love Lane Market for several weeks.

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | The doors have been closed at Love Lane Market for several weeks.

After overcoming electrical problems caused by Hurricane Sandy and reopening this summer, the story of Love Lane Market has come to a sad conclusion.

RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | The coffee bar that had been set up for the market's re-opening in late June.

RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | The coffee bar that had been set up for the market’s re-opening in late June.

The boutique grocery store and eatery in Mattituck has shuttered for good, owner Michael Avella announced Thursday.

“I apologize to my customers, my employees and the community at large,” he said. “Although I did what I could, we were not able to recover from the losses sustained from Superstorm Sandy.

“Intellectually, I know that many others have faced even worse devastation in the aftermath of the storm; homes lost, lives and loved ones lost,” he continued. “But, personally, I will likely never recover from the emotional and financial loss this year-long nightmare has caused.”

Love Lane Market had closed its doors last November after an electrical malfunction during the storm caused the store’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to burn out, effectively spoiling all refrigerated merchandise, Mr. Avella told The Suffolk Times earlier this year. He had told The Suffolk Times he lost $100,000 worth of inventory after Sandy.

The business opened again in late June, this time with a full coffee bar.

Then last month, previous editions of The Suffolk Times and a pile of courtesy magazines began piling up among leaves at the market’s front entrance. The market appeared closed.

That was when Ann Johnson of Mattituck was found peering inside the darkened shop’s windows with two friends.

“It’s too bad,” she said. “It’s a nice space, too. And he [the owner] was such a nice guy. He put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into reopening. He was just here last weekend.”

When asked last month if the business was closed, Mr. Avella said a final decision hadn’t been made. He had still wanted to look into grant money through the state, he said.

But on Thursday, he said he had exhausted all his options.

“I spent months applying to FEMA, the SBA and state for assistance through their much publicized programs,” Mr. Avella said. “The application process started in November 2012 and became dozens of pages in length, including hundreds of pages of supporting documents.

“Over the months, I responded to endless requests for additional paperwork. At times it appeared that these agencies were looking for any excuse to deny my appeals for assistance. Ultimately, I was unable play their waiting game any longer.”

When asked what she would like to see come to the storefront in the heart of Mattituck’s historic business district, Ms. Johnson suggested someplace fun, someplace where her adult children could go to have fun — “instead of having to go to Dune Road.”

“A nice restaurant pub would be great, for nighttime,” she said.

With Michael White

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09/21/13 7:58am
09/21/2013 7:58 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Captain Dave Berson walks the dock outside Scrimshaw’s restaurant in Greenport the morning after Superstorm Sandy struck the North Fork. The restaurant’s owner, Rosa Ross, described the dock as looking like a ‘jumble of wood’ in the storm’s aftermath.

Jerry Tuthill vividly remembers the anguish he felt the first time he surveyed the cruel hand superstorm Sandy dealt to his family’s 25-year-old Greenport restaurants, Claudio’s Clam Bar and Crabby Jerry’s.

“The docks were all torn up,” he said. “Crabby Jerry’s was completely wiped out. I built this place myself, so it really broke my heart.”

As devastating as Mr. Tuthill’s ordeal following Sandy was, it unfortunately wasn’t unique. Some North Fork businesses, like Pepi’s Italian Restaurant in Southold, were in ruins following the storm, which ravaged the Atlantic coastline late last October.

“It’s destroyed,” owner Pepi Gibinska told the Suffolk Times last November. “My deck is inside the restaurant. We’re trying to save what we can.”

Ten months later, Pepi’s remains closed.

“We’re working on reopening,” Ms. Gibinska said. “It takes time.” She declined further comment, but said she has obtained building permits to reconstruct the restaurant.

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Scrimshaw Restaurant, which sits on the water at the end of Main Street in Greenport, also suffered extensive damage but was closed for only three weeks following the storm.

Rosa Ross, Scrimshaw’s owner and executive chef, said the restaurant had a significant amount of electrical damage. The eatery’s outdoor dock, however, fared the worst.

“It looked like a giant picked up the dock and just threw it back down,” she said. “It was a jumble of wood.”

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Nearly 11 months after this photo was taken, Pepi’s Cucina Di Casa restaurant in Southold has still not reopened.

The dock was replaced in June, Ms. Ross said, and although the restaurant has been up and running for months, customers still ask her if Scrimshaw is operating.

“I just had someone call me today and ask if we were open,” she said with a light chuckle this week.

“From mid-July to the end of Labor Day, the season was good,” Ms. Ross said. “We’re still struggling to recoup and pay off all our debts.”

In Mattituck, Love Lane Market was closed for eight months after an electrical malfunction caused by Sandy burned out the store’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, effectively spoiling all refrigerated merchandise. The store reopened at the beginning of July but has since struggled to find its momentum, owner Mike Avella said.

“We had an OK summer,” he said. “We’re definitely not where we were last year at this time. Unfortunately we had to restart from zero, pretty much.”

In addition to losing all the store’s inventory, Mr. Avella said, he also needed to hire and train new staff.

“It cost me a lot of money to come back in,” he said. “We’re maybe 75 percent of where we were last year with inventory.”

But as challenging as this year has been, Mr. Avella said, the future looks promising.

“On a positive note, we are applying for grants from New York State and we have high hopes that we’re going to receive a grant that will help us finish restocking and hire more employees,” he said. “Ideally, we’ll be in a position to take advantage of the Thanksgiving holidays.”

In Greenport, Mr. Tuthill is also looking on the bright side.

“I’m not looking forward to another storm like that, let me tell you,” he said. “But it could have been worse. A lot of people thought that we’d never be open for the season because we had so much damage.”

Claudio’s Clam Bar and Crabby Jerry’s both opened in May, on time for the summer rush. Claudio’s Restaurant also suffered damage but was open 36 hours after the storm.

And although Labor Day, which traditionally marks the end of the summer business season, came and went two weeks ago, Mr. Tuthill said the restaurant still sees a lot of business when the weather is nice.

“Greenport isn’t a hidden secret anymore,” he said. “People know about it now. I’m amazed how many people are coming here on the weekends and even during the week.”

If all goes well, he said, there will be plenty of visitors at this weekend’s Greenport Maritime Festival, where Bill Claudio is parade marshal.

“I’m hoping for a good weekend with the Maritime Festival,” Mr. Tuthill said. “That would really help us out a lot.”

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07/04/13 12:00pm
07/04/2013 12:00 PM
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | The new coffee bar at Love Lane Market in Mattituck.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | The new coffee bar at Love Lane Market in Mattituck.

Eight months after electrical damage caused by Hurricane Sandy forced the owners of Love Lane Market to halt business, the popular Mattituck grocery store and eatery is now open and its owner plans to launch a fair-trade coffee bar this weekend.

“We’ve always been very successful selling coffee at Love Lane Kitchen,” said owner Mike Avella, who sold Love Lane Kitchen last year. “Frankly, I think we serve the best coffee on the North Fork.”

Customers will be able to make and enjoy cups of fair-trade coffee roasted by Southold business Long Island Coffee Roasters. Individual bags of coffee from a diverse number of countries, including Rwanda, Indonesia and Ethiopia, will also be available for purchase. Mr. Avella said he also plans to offer fresh croissants, scones, muffins and coffee cakes baked on-site.

Love Lane Market closed its doors last November after an electrical malfunction caused the store’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to burn out, effectively spoiling all refrigerated merchandise.

“It’s a little overwhelming because we have so much to do,” Mr. Avella said. “I lost $100,000 in inventory [due to the storm]. I’m sorry and I apologize to all our customers who’ve been trying to come in the doors for the past seven months. We just weren’t able to open until I could effect all the repairs.”

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01/27/13 12:42pm
01/27/2013 12:42 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO Keith Luce demonstrates how he makes sea salt for a previous Suffolk Times article.

Acclaimed local chef Keith Luce is currently heading up a kickstarter page to raise funds for a smokehouse he said will help him develop his cured meats.  But you’ll have to settle for reading between the lines if you want to know exactly where he plans to sell those meats.

“All of the pieces of the puzzle, including a storage and cutting facility are secured and two retail/wholesale outlets will be launched in the spring of 2013 to help sell and market the fabricated end product — Artisan cured meats,” Mr. Luce wrote on the kickstarter page for Love Lane Market Artisinal Curing.

While the name of the page certainly gives a large clue to where one of the two retail outlets might be, Mr. Luce said he isn’t ready to divulge too many details.

“It’s a project I’ve been working on and is an extension of my family farm,” the former White House sous chef told The Suffolk Times. “I’m working on being able to say more.”

The Love Lane Market, which has sold Mr. Luce’s products since it opened in 2011, has been closed following damage from Superstorm Sandy. A message written Dec. 2 on the market’s Facebook page said it would reopen after repairs to the store’s damaged refrigeration units are complete.

Mr. Luce needs to raise $50,000 before March 4 in order to receive his kickstarter donations. So far, 17 backers have donated about $2,000.

The chef has been making moves since stepping down as executive chef of the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in December. That month, he consulted on the menu for The All Star, the long-awaited bowling alley and restaurant that opened on Route 58 in Riverhead, near the intersection of Route 105.

Now, he hopes to take the farm-to-table concept to a whole new level on the North Fork.

His cured meat products, which he said includes ham, bacon and sausage, are from a small herd of Mangalitsa pigs he’s been raising on his family’s Sound Avenue farm.

According to his kickstarter page, the pigs are free ranging on five acres of farmland and are fed fresh vegetable scraps from his restaurant kitchen, spent grain from a local micro-brewery and cooked potatoes.

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10/20/10 3:28pm
10/20/2010 3:28 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO Sign announcing the auction is taped in the window of the now-closed Village Market in Mattituck.

Going, going, mostly gone.
If you always wanted to own a souvenir from your favorite hangout, Mattituck’s now defunct Village Market, you may have missed your chance.
On Monday, an auctioneer from American Assets sold off everything from a walk-in refrigeration unit, a coffee station island and Bunn coffee makers to display cases, cash registers, racks, ceiling fans, cooking equipment and even baskets that once held baked goods.
New owner Michael Avella, who bought the market last month from longtime owner Mike Bourguignon, also owns Love Lane Kitchen next door and plans to open his own specialty food market in the space. He’s keeping a few original items, including a large refrigeration unit to hold bottles and cans. But he has new, modern equipment on order and plans to renovate the space so almost everything had to go, he said.
Mr. Avella admitted disappointment at the small number of bidders — about 10 total — but said that Mattituck was too far from New York City for merchants to travel here and then have to transport whatever they might have bought back to their own stores.
Signs in the window read “Coming Soon — Love Lane Market.” But how soon will depend on how quickly Mr. Avella can spruce up the old digs and get new equipment installed.
“I would love to be open by Christmastime,” he said, “but it’ll be tough.” Nonetheless, he’s not letting go of that goal.
While the new market and Love Lane Kitchen will operate independently, a few items might carry over between the two businesses, Mr. Avella said. Love Lane Market will feature its own homemade sausages and may have homemade pasta. Those could well be offered at the restaurant, too, he said.
As for how much he might net from the auction, he wasn’t optimistic. “I’d be happy if somebody could use the stuff,” he said.
Bidders were to pay for and remove their treasures by Tuesday. Depending on what didn’t sell at the auction, Mr. Avella said he had been offered warehouse space and might try to sell the items on eBay and craigslist.
Mr. Avella couldn’t be reached Tuesday to determine the final receipts from the auction, but there were some items on which no one bid, so there might still be a chance to pick up your own memento of Mattituck’s Village Market.
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