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WLNG
April 12, 2006

Outside Chamber Music Permitted? New Main Street Upscale Eatery


Shoppers on Riverhead's Main Street may soon have the opportunity to enjoy an elegant dining experience: Last week, the Riverhead Town Board learned that the wheels are in motion for a sale that could result in a new, upscale restaurant to move into the space formerly occupied by The Boardwalk on Main restaurant, which shut its doors last summer.

Owner of The Boardwalk, Mary Cox, was present at last week's work session to discuss a permit that could become a potential deal breaker in the sale of the property.

According to Cox, restaurateur Rich Gherardi, well-known on the East End for his Michael's at Maidstone Beach in East Hampton, has expressed interest in the Main Street site. "It's going to be an upscale restaurant," said Cox. "He wants to play upscale chamber music" outside on the deck. She added that the new establishment would have the elegant atmosphere epitomized by Michael's at Maidstone Beach.

In question, said Cox, is the extension of a permit required for playing music outdoors. Cox said that last year, she followed proper procedure and got a special permit for playing music on the deck. Cox asked the board if that permit could be extended, and if, in fact, it was transferable to the new owner of the property.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Phil Cardinale said he would speak to Town Attorney Dawn Thomas to verify whether or not the permit was transferable and could be extended by resolution, or whether the new owner would have to reapply for a permit.

Cardinale and the town board were amenable to Cox's request. "We want music on Main Street," said Cardinale. "We want to make it a mecca for people to have fun."

Cardinale added that there was no need to "torture" individuals who came forward to do the right thing and apply for a permit, adding that many other business owners never even bothered with that step. 

"You were the only one to do the right thing," he told Cox.

Cox said the potential new owners were "waiting on" word about the permit extension before proceeding with the sale.

"It sounds exciting," said Cardinale.

The entire town board supported the resolution to extend the permit, and Cardinale said they would "move it along" so that if it could, in fact, be extended, the board would do so at the next town board meeting next Tuesday

Gherardi confirmed that he and his partner Bill Landberg have the contracts and are planning to open the restaurant as another location of Michael's.

Although Gherardi said the restaurant has an "upscale feeling," he will offer prix fixe dinners priced at $24.95, as well as early bird specials. And, with outdoor music, he said he anticipates a flourishing bar crowd.

The permit, he agreed, could have been a deal breaker. The value of the site is in having a cabaret license, something that he said "is not easy to come by" these days.

Gherardi, who is a builder by trade and owns commercial property in Riverhead, said he looks forward to opening on Main Street. A mixed-use community, with businesses and residences, is a win-win situation, as reflected in similar communities in Maryland.

"You've got a real town feeling — a real neighborhood," he said. Without such a mix, residential areas are "desolate" during the day, while business areas are "desolate" at night. Mixed-use communities offer round-the-clock amenities and the ability for residents to walk to shops.

Gherardi commended the town board's plans for the area and said he hoped they "stayed on course" with future mixed-use development.

"We're excited about coming to Riverhead," he said.

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