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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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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09/30/10 5:30pm
09/30/2010 5:30 PM

The Village Market has been a fixture on Love Lane in Mattituck since 1896, but when the market’s doors close on Sept. 30, it will be the end of an era.

Mike Bourguignon has owned The Village Market, which serves breakfast and lunch specials, sells groceries and has a full deli with counter seating, for 22 years. In the past year, at his wife’s suggestion, he began quietly seeking a buyer for the business.

He found one right next door. Michael Avella, who owns The Love Lane Kitchen, is in contract to buy The Village Market, which he plans to turn into a specialty grocery store before Christmas. Both men expect the closing to be within the week.

Mr. Avella said he was excited by what he plans to continue the counter seating offered at The Village Market.

“People can expect a butcher, a baker, a fish monger, produce that will be almost exclusively local, high quality imported goods,” he said. “We’ll also have pastries, gelato, a coffee station and we plan to make our own doughnuts. It’s all in the design phase right now.”

Mr. Bourguignon was grinning from ear to ear Saturday night, when the market’s cook, Judy Thilberg, threw a surprise going away party for him at the market. It seemed as if everyone in Mattituck had crammed inside to say goodbye.

Mr. Bourguignon had worked at several delis throughout Long Island before he heard in 1988 from friends who owned a similar market in Quogue that The Village Market was for sale. When he first visited and saw the regulars hanging out in the deli, trading stories in the early morning or having a quick bite on their lunch breaks, he knew it was a place he wanted.

“This was always the place to be,” he said, as he stood surrounded Saturday night by a group of regular customers who were gently chiding him and reminiscing about their visits to the market.

“What am I going to miss? It’s obvious. All these knuckleheads,” he said.

Ms. Thilberg and the butcher, Mario Zulli, had both been on the staff when Mr. Bourguignon bought the market from Vicki McDowell and Marilyn Gatz.

Both Ms. Thilberg and Mr. Bourguignon said that they would take advantage of their new free time to travel. Ms. Thilberg plans to continue working at her brother’s auto body shop, Sap Enterprises, in Riverhead.

“The best part of the job was meeting all the interesting people over the years,” she said. “We’ll miss everybody.”

Ms. Thilberg’s sister, Carol Underwood, was already missing the market as she sampled her sister’s cooking at the party.

“I’m going to miss the chicken salad,” she said. “Judy is like a pillar.”

Ms. Underwood’s husband, Jim Underwood, was also feeling nostalgic. Just retired from his job as a health teacher at Mattituck High School a few blocks away, he came to The Village Market for lunch nearly every day during school.

“I’m going to miss their sausage and the news updates from people you’d see,” he said. “This place was like Mattituck online, but you didn’t need the Internet. This has been community home base. There’s going to be a big gap.”

Mr. Underwood said that when he returned to school with food to go the plates would be heaping. The crab cakes and lemon chicken were his favorites.

“I tried to make the lemon chicken. Judy told me how, but I couldn’t duplicate it,” he said.

Lisa Davis, who said she works not far from The Village Market, has been a regular for 22 years. “I wouldn’t miss their egg special on Saturday mornings,” she said. “It has a down-home, friendly feeling. They knew everybody. It’s going to be a big hole.”

Danielle Grathwohl’s first job was at The Village Market, when she was 14. That was before Mr. Bourguignon owned the market, and “he made it better,” she said. She worked as a cashier and, when it was slow, she made chopped meat.

“My mom said, ‘Work some place you can walk to,'” she said.

“My husband’s here every day with my children. Judy would give them cookies, so she became the cookie lady. My daughter was Little Miss Mattituck and she had her picture taken with Mike on the counter,” Ms. Grathwohl added.

Ms. Grathwohl said that she doesn’t know where she and her family will go for cookies and home cooking now that The Village Market is closing.

“It’s really the end of an era,” she said.

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