BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Chris Chobor and Ashley Knight reopened their restaurant, renamed The Islander, last weekend.
The former Pat & Steve’s has been reborn as The Islander.
After a 10-day closing that allowed for a major facelift and change of ambiance, the Sunday crowd this past weekend settled right in, giving owners Ashley Knight and Chris Chobor a booming welcome back.
Thanks to artist Catherine Brigham, murals of Shelter Island scenes adorn the walls above white wainscotting.
When Ms. Knight and Mr. Chobor announced last June they were taking over the restaurant from Pat and Steve Lenox on a four-year lease with an option to buy, they had in mind both the renovations and name change. But they “didn’t want to skip a beat” so they put off the major transition until now, Ms. Knight said.
“Our goal was a smooth transition” so that customers weren’t inconvenienced and would hardly notice a change, she said last spring.
The restaurant gave Ms. Knight and Mr. Chobor the perfect chance to realize their dream, they said at the time.
“We didn’t want someone to take it over and turn it into yet another fine dining restaurant,” Mr. Chobor said. “As working class people, we wanted someplace we can go that’s still affordable. We want a place where people can come in after the beach or a ball game and have a non-stuffy place in which to kick back,” he said last spring.
While they had plans for some renovations and menu expansions, both were determined to hold on to what made the restaurant successful for the Lenoxes. They kept the staff and tried to provide the same good service and good food, Mr. Chobor said.
“It was a family work project,” Mr. Chobor said about the renovations. The entire staff — kitchen workers and front of the house staff — helped along with a couple of workers from Mr. Chobor’s construction crew.
“It was a little challenging,” Ms. Knight said about meeting the self-imposed deadline they set to reopen this past weekend.
The menu has been expanded, adding some specialty sandwiches and salads.
“What people see is important to us,” Mr. Chobor said about the new ambiance, “but what people eat is even more important.”
“It’s a testament to our partnership that, despite working until midnight or 2 a.m., we were never at each other’s throats,” Mr. Chobor said, referring to the 10-day drive to get the restaurant renovated and reopened.