Others tried, but for the first time in several years, John DeLeo appears poised to complete his three-year contract to operate a restaurant at the Shelter Island Country Club and sign on for the long-term.
What Mr. DeLeo got that several predecessors couldn’t get from the Country Club Board of Directors was an agreement to operate both the restaurant and bar as a single entity, The Flying Goat.
Previous operators of the restaurant had to share the space with those hired separately by the board to run the bar. The result was not only a split in revenues, but difficulty in trying to run two separate business operations out of the same space.
Former board president Ron Lucas got the ball rolling last year, finally convincing his colleagues that continuing to run two operations with two separate revenue streams wasn’t working and needed to be changed. When his successor, Marc Scola, took over board leadership last year, he was pleased with the decision and optimistic that the change would ultimately benefit both The Flying Goat and the country club.
The Flying Goat opens Easter Sunday at 11 a.m., serving a brunch menu until 3 p.m. Then the restaurant will remain open from noon to 9 p.m. every day during the start of the season and expand to 10 p.m. once the season gets into full swing on Memorial Day weekend.
“We’re excited about a second year,” Mr. DeLeo said during an interview at the restaurant Thursday. “This is like a hidden jewel,” he said of the restaurant.
Work was going on around him with a crew dealing with repairs to the building exterior and another crew expected in to repair the fireplace.
The same management team is returning — general manager Joann Piccozzi, chef Tom Ritzler and bar manager Robert Mullins.
“Everybody runs it like it’s their own business,” he said of his team.
Ms. Piccozzi has been working with Mr. DeLeo at his South Fork restaurants for nine years, taking over management of The Flying Goat last summer. Mr. DeLeo has run the Montauk Lighthouse Grill, the Quogue Snack Bar Pavilion and eateries at Hither Hills State Park, Wildwood State Park, Ponquogue Beach and Tiana Beach.
Mr. Ritzler was chef at the club when Vue, run by contractor Ian Weslek, club general manager Harry Brigham and electrician Joe Piscatello opened there in 2015. They called it quits after a single season.
The menu will remain pretty much the same, although Mr. DeLeo said he’s open to adding dishes if people make requests. He also plans to offer small plates, along with the usual fresh fish, steaks, pasta and other items that were served last year.
There will again be three to five specialty drinks, but the bar is prepared to serve whatever customers want.
Costs of operation, as with everything, have gone up, but Mr. DeLeo said he’s making every effort to keep prices similar to what they were last year.
Ms. Piccozzi is aiming to provide lunches for the many work crews on the Island. They can come in and get a burger and beer or if they’re short on time, they can call ahead and lunch will be waiting for them to take out, she said.
While some of last summer’s wait staff are returning, Mr. DeLeo and Ms. Piccozzi are looking for additional summer staff, including bartenders, barmaids and waiters and waitresses.
“We’re hoping to do more business so we’ll need more people,” Mr. DeLeo said.
“We’re just waiting for the weather to warm up and the people to show up,” he said. “If we’re successful, the country club is successful and vice versa,” he said.