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New Shelter Island Country Club  restaurant coming this spring

The clubhouse restaurant at Goat Hill will open in the next few months with a new name and a new owner. In a press release this week, the Board of Trustees of the Shelter Island Country Club announced, with “immense pleasure and excitement,” the new restaurant that will be opening at the clubhouse.

Jim Lang (Courtesy photo)

“The 1901 Grill LLC, owned by Jim Lang, will be opening for Spring 2024,” the board said. “Jim and his family have owned a home on Shelter Island since 1965. Jim’s vision will be a place where Shelter Island Country Club members, Island residents, and visitors can come for a quality meal and to socialize with family and friends at a reasonable price. Their goal is to cater to the members and the local community.”

Jim Lang recalled his family’s early days on the Island in an interview with the Reporter. Beginning in the summer of 1965, they rented a cottage at Peconic Lodge, the hotel complex that is now home to the Perlman Music Program.

“We were all Irish twins,” he said. “I was 4 months old, and my parents also had a 15-month-old and a 26-month-old. That cabin got pretty small.”

When the owner of Peconic Lodge decided to sell after his wife’s death, the Lang family bought his home, a little red house, situated between the Pridwin and Peconic Lodge.

Jim spent his teen years working at the Pridwin, in different jobs throughout the kitchen and dining room. “I was the breakfast chef, busboy, waited tables, tended bar.” He continued tending bar in Queens during his college years, then went to work for Miller Beer as a salesman. Later, he became a New York City firefighter, serving in the department for 14 years before retiring.

If the idea of opening a restaurant was in the back of his mind, learning that the club was seeking a new proprietor this year made him realize this was an opportunity he had always wanted.

“I’ve got to do this now,” he said. “I can remember the days when you could go out to dinner with your family and not spend your whole paycheck.” He applied in response to a Request For Proposals put out by the board, outlining his vision for the restaurant.   

He picked the restaurant’s name, 1901 Grill, as a nod to the founding date of the Country Club. Its history traces many of the same lines as the Island itself. The course was created by the Heights Association to serve its members and guests, then opened to the public.

In the late 1970s the Town of Shelter Island bought the property from the Heights Association and appointed a Board to oversee course operations. The Board, in turn, found volunteers to run the Club. The club has been operated ever since by a volunteer Board of Trustees elected by Club members.

The Club was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, and became a nonprofit in 2019.

The outstanding feature of the clubhouse restaurant is its location, perched at the top of what has been familiarly known as Goat Hill. From its wraparound porches, stunning views of the Island stretch out from north to south, with breezes that cool even the warmest summer days. Inside, the bar is a place where golfers can gather after their rounds and connect with other Islanders and visitors.

These days are filled with setting up the kitchen and restaurant and looking for staff, Mr. Lang said, speaking with the Reporter on a day when he was going out to buy new chairs.

“I was setting up the dining room because I had to take pictures for the State Liquor Authority,” he said, “and I realized the chairs were too big and heavy and in need of painting, so I decided to just replace them.”

The target date for opening is early April, but that will depend on when the licensing is secured.

He’s put in other equipment, he said, but he will mostly be able to use what’s already in the kitchen. As for staff, he’s still lining up a chef, but will have help in getting the place up and running from a childhood Island friend, Julia Best.

From his years working at the Pridwin, he’s clear-eyed about what he’s getting into, but excited. “I know it’s hard work,” he said. “But I will be fulfilling a lifelong dream.”