Though most North Fork business owners boarded up and got out before what is now known as hit this weekend, a handful of markets, restaurants and taverns stayed open to brave the storm — and maybe make a little money.
in New Suffolk boarded up their brand new vaulted windows with a panoramic view of Peconic Bay on Saturday in preparation for the worst but took the boards down by 2 p.m. on Sunday to open for dinner that night, said manager Rose Tarpey.
“It was great — we were fully powered by generator and a lot of people came down,” she said.
Legends had a much worse time this past winter, when the owners were forced to close the business on Jan. 12 when snow from one of the blizzards made parts of the roof sag.
“It really didn’t get very rough on the bay down here,” Tarpey said. “The only problem we had was high tide at about 12 p.m. on Sunday when the road flooded for a bit.”
Handy Pantry, a small grocery store in Mattituck, also had front windows boarded up to ride out the storm, but was open to the public via generator. Manager Diane Schmidt said that Saturday, Sunday and Monday were crazy busy from 5 a.m. until 11 a.m. and that this morning was the time for people to stock up on ice.
“Saturday night was busy and Monday was insane, and now that the hurricane is over with so many people without power, we’re seeing a lot of people who wouldn’t normally stop here.”
- in Greenport was open all weekend and reportedly very busy each night despite the hurricane threat, while other businesses on Front Street, such as shored up against possible flooding,
Jimmy Rando, owner of Sweet Tomatoes restaurant on Shelter Island, said he had no second thoughts about staying open all weekend. He too had a generator and propane lamps to keep his customers happy even with a limited menu and only dinner service on Sunday.
“I think most people appreciated the fact that we decided to stay open,” he said. “It was also a good bonding experience for myself and my staff.”
Rando said that generators and lots of ice kept everything as fresh as possible and that he used up perishable inventory that otherwise would have been lost if he didn’t try to stay open during Irene. He said that he made the best out of what is normally a very profitable weekend during the year.
“It wasn’t easy but it’s great PR for the business,” he said. “My philosophy is that if someone tells you that the world is going to end and we’re all going to die but then the world doesn’t end and we don’t die — I can always say I told you so if I do something other than nothing.”