The former Cody’s BBQ building has been purchased by the owners of Patchogue’s PeraBell Food Bar, who plan to open a new Riverhead eatery at the East Main Street location next spring.
PeraBell partners John Peragine and Scotti Campbell say the new restaurant will be modeled after their hugely successful joint venture on Main Street in Patchogue and, though they haven’t “officially” decided on its name, they’re “95 percent sure” it will bear the same name.
“We’re extremely excited to be coming to Riverhead,” Peragine told RiverheadLOCAL Thursday, after the partners took a tour of the downtown district. “The town has so much potential. We’re looking to tap into it and be a part of a great community,” he said.
“The riverfront is beautiful. The theater is awesome. It was exciting to see. It felt right,” he said.
Peragine said Riverhead today reminded them of Patchogue Village just as it was about to blossom. The pair opened PeraBell eight years ago as a 30-seat restaurant on West Main Street. “Back then Main Street was dead,” Peragine said.
Main Street, Patchogue today is bustling, filled with shoppers, diners and theater-goers. PeraBell Food Bar outgrew its West Main Street quarters and four years ago opened up in a much larger space on East Main Street in the heart of the village, right next to the Patchogue Theater for the Performing Arts.
Peragine credits a creative village government, new redevelopment projects, an energetic chamber of commerce and a lively restaurant scene with the village’s renaissance. The “Alive After Five” event, which closes Patchogue’s Main Street to vehicular traffic for a free street festival on four Thursday evenings in summer — with live music on seven stages, craft and retail vendors, food, and family-friendly activities — brings thousands of people to the village and has been a tremendous boon to business, he said.
“You bring 10,000 people there each week, they stay and eat and hang out. And they come back,” Peragine said.
For PeraBell, the partners’ philosophy was to focus on being a great neighborhood restaurant, said Peragine, a chef who was trained at Johnson and Wales.
“We wanted to be a place where you go for a great burger and a beer and watch the ballgame, or where you could celebrate your wedding anniversary with a three-course meal and a bottle of wine,” he said. “We offer fine dining in a casual restaurant that has a cosmopolitan atmosphere but is very comfortable.”
They’ve apparently met their goals because their 200-seat restaurant and adjoining bar packs out.
“We keep our menu very affordable — 90 percent of it is under $20. We have daily chalkboard specials plus a menu of staples,” Peragine said.
Peragine and Campbell plan a complete interior renovation of the Cody’s building, which they just purchased from Bridgehampton National Bank. The bank, which held a $770,000 mortgage on the building, took title in June after Cody’s closed its doors a month earlier.
The new owners plan to eliminate the long exterior hallway at the Main Street entrance and square off the front facade of the building with a steel frame glass door facade like the one they installed in Patchogue. It allows the entire front of the restaurant to be opened to a sidewalk cafe, which looks nice and is popular with customers, Peragine said.
“We’re going to class it up a bit,” he said.
The interior will be renovated to look and feel like what they’ve done with great success in Patchogue, he said. They’re excited about the rear deck overlooking the riverfront, too. “The river is a great asset,” he said.
The partners are high school buddies who attended Patchogue-Medford together, graduating in 1989 and 1990. After graduation, Peragine went to culinary school and Campbell went to college for business. Peragine lived and worked in Manhattan for 12 years before moving back to Long Island and going into business with his old friend, who had gotten involved in the bar business locally. They opened PeraBell Food Bar and then The Tap Room on West Main Street. They recently sold The Tap Room, Peragine said.
Campbell is also a partner in Dublin Deck.
At PeraBell, Campbell runs the “the front end” while Peragine runs the kitchen.
“We love the location and we’re very excited about coming to Riverhead,” Campbell said last night at the crowded restaurant, pausing for a brief interview and a photo, as he oversaw seating arrangements, answered staff questions and strode through the dining room checking in with customers.
“We believe we’re going to be a perfect fit.”
Top photo caption:John Peragine, left, and Scotti Campbell, partners in PeraBell Food Bar in Patchogue, yesterday evening at their restaurant. Photo: Peter Blasl.
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