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Year in Review: Top 10 Business Stories of 2012

Vineyard 48 parties, a new passenger ferry and shellfish festival, and the transformation of a longstanding Greenport chowder pub made 2012's most-read business headlines.

For entrepreneurs of all kinds, the North Fork really is a dynamic place to set up shop. This year, vineyard owners, restaurateurs and retailers found success along with stress in the game of balancing economic bloom with governmental compliance and community needs.

A new shellfish festival injected life into Greenport during one of the slowest times of year while an experimental passenger ferry connected sightseers to both forks during the busiest time of the year.

Here are a few of the most popular business articles of 2012 on North Fork Patch.

Despite complaints from neighbors over loud music, the lewdness of the crowd and the potential dangers involved in having limousines and busses park on Route 48, Vineyard 48's managers did not back away from pursuing a dance party approach to doing weekend business at their winery during the 2012 vineyard-hopping season.

“The bottom line is that this is a business,” said manager Dale Suter. “There are more days during the week that we are empty, but we need to make a profit — and it’s extremely difficult to do that as a winery.”

About 25 people working in the North Fork wine industry spoke out against proposed changes to a law regarding special events regulations in Southold Town at a public hearing in May. People like Steve Bate, executive director of the said that the code change is “too sweeping” and he and others have problems with what they felt are “exorbitant” permit fees.

Terry Harwood, owner of the Vine Street Café on Shelter Island, took over the former Chowder Pot Pub on Third Street in Greenport, calling the place the Blue Canoe Oyster Bar. But aside from updating the intimate 1970s structure with an unbeatable view of Greenport Harbor and the Shelter Island ferry and upgrading a few menu items, not much has changed at the longstanding pub.

After months of planning and waiting for village government approval, the Peconic Bay Water Jitney got off to a lively start in July on its journey to connect Greenport and Sag Harbor for the rest of the summer. The ferry service, a joint venture of Hampton Jitney and Response Marine, was permitted by the village board's of Sag Harbor and Greenport on a pilot basis. But after the season, the water jitney's founders had doubts about the boat's future, saying that they just weren't making enough money.

Bayman Charlie Manwaring relocated the Southold Fish Market — a place he grew up working in and has owned since 1999 — from its longstanding spot in the Heron Suites complex in Southold across Route 25 into a trailer behind the former Hollister’s steak and seafood restaurant in early September. Manwaring survived Hurricane Sandy in the temporary spot and is waiting through a permitting process with Southold Town to reopen the long vacant Hollister’s.

With $500,000 in donations from 675 community members in the bank, the North Fork Community Theater bought its historic playhouse that has housed its 50-plus years worth of performances on Old Sound Avenue in September from the neighboring Mattituck Presbyterian Church, which has owned the structure since 1830. The group has rented the building from the church for just a dollar a year for the past 50 years.

Inspired by the allure of more eyes, more traffic, and hopefully more business, a pair of local businesswomen decided to pick up shop and move from Peconic to Southold. Jeri Woodhouse, owner of A Taste of the North Fork, and Lori Guyer, owner of the White Flower Farmhouse, are took their talents to Southold after doing business next door to one another on Peconic Lane for about the past three years.

The vision of Southold resident John Kramer, Greenport ‘Shellabration’ Seafood Fest drew 750 people and raised $3,500 for local causes, as shellfish lovers made their way from Greenport Harbor Brewing Company to a dozen different restaurants in the village for small plates of seafood and other specialty dishes paired with local wines during the normally slow second week of December.

About five years ago, Tony and Greg Cocheo began an odyssey to open up a 7-Eleven on the corner of Route 25 and Factory Avenue in Mattituck. The store would be the second one the Cocheos would own and the fourth 7-Eleven on the North Fork, replacing an aging Citgo gas station. After years of picketing and delays in construction, the doors of the Mattituck 7-Eleven opened to a steady stream of customers in December of 2011. Tony Cocheo says the store is doing extremely well with coffee, hot food like pizza, grilled hot dogs and rolls, and other to-go food items like sandwiches and salads.

Everywhere you look these days on the North Fork, you can’t seem to escape an invitation to a Zumba fitness party — schools and libraries, gyms and fitness centers, before local road races and at home fitness gatherings. That’s because for many, Zumba — a dance fitness program incorporating everything from hip-hop dance to martial arts moves — isn’t a workout, it’s a party. Local fitness studios like JABS in Mattituck and Five Branches Wellness in Greenport boomed with Zumba business in 2012.

What was your favorite business story of 2012. Tell us in the comments.

Pam Riley January 05, 2013 at 12:22 AM
It's a shame that this is the business news that is reported when hurricane Sandy came through and destroyed so many businesses profits during a busy end of season push. As we know the north fork relies on the tourism in the fall to make them profitable for the season.

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