A storied Riverhead restaurant is now a just a memory.

The building that once housed Klein’s Court Restaurant, J.P. Michael’s and, most recently, the Courthouse Restaurant was razed today by demolition equipment operated by its current owner.

File photo.

The long-vacant historic structure was demolished by its owner after Riverhead Town determined it was unsafe and threatened to tear it down.

Lyle Pike, a principal in the company that owns the building, says the property is now under contract to be sold to Richmond Realty.

The former restaurant, adjacent to the Suffolk County courthouse, was once a popular watering hole and eatery frequented by judges and lawyers. It has had several changes in ownership over the years and has spent much of the past decade vacant and boarded up.

With the condition of the vacant structure deteriorating and its exterior unkempt and overgrown, Riverhead Town officials began issuing notices of violation in an effort to get the owner to clean it up and make repairs. Last spring, the town executed an administrative search warrant to gain access to the interior for inspection purposes. Officials said they found a partially collapsed roof and other structural problems, in addition to health concerns, including the presence of rats. Riverhead Town then commenced an unsafe structure proceeding before the town board intended to ultimately give the town the right to raze the building.

Meanwhile, the Israel family — local builders, developers and real estate brokers — has been purchasing other buildings along Railroad Avenue, hoping to undertake a revitalization effort in the troubled area surrounding the train station. They saw acquisition of the dilapidated former restaurant as essential to those revitalization efforts.

“We were tired at looking at this eyesore. It was having a negative impact on the whole area,” said Issac Israel of Richmond Realty. “We’d like to fix up the area, see it cleaned up. It’s the first step.”

The contract of sale required Pike to take the structure down, Israel said.

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Courtney is a photographer, videographer, web designer and writer. She is a lifelong Riverhead resident.