Michelangelo's restaurant and pizzeria at 300 East Main St. this week in March.
Photo: Peter Blasl

Michelangelo of Riverhead has closed.

The Italian restaurant and pizzeria has been shuttered since mid-March. The eatery opened on East Main Street in 2019, about six months before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

The building is being sold, a source close to the building owner said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He said he had “no real information” on what the buyers, whom he declined to identify, will do with the site.

“Unfortunately we have been a victim of this pandemic. Thank you for the support in the past,” the restaurant posted to its Facebook page last month in response to a comment that it appears to be permanently closed.

Principals in the business could not be reached for comment. No one answered the restaurant’s business phone and voice mail messages left for an owner on his cell phone were not returned. Michelangelo’s website has a notice stating the restaurant has closed. The notice appears when a visitor attempts to use the online ordering tool.

A Michelangelo employee discussed the closing on the “East End Takeout” Facebook group in March.

“Michelangelo’s is closed permanently. Unfortunately we were a casualty to this pandemic,” waitress Katelin Beyer wrote in the group on March 19. “We had no idea we were going to close.”

The restaurant was open and posting daily specials to its own Facebook page less than a week before.

Restaurants have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, with emergency orders limiting their hours and occupancies over the past year. The National Restaurant Association said about one in six restaurants have been permanently closed during the pandemic. By that measure, restaurants in downtown Riverhead have fared well in terms of their survival rate so far. While business volume continues to be off even after COVID restrictions were eased, Michelangelo is the only downtown restaurant known to have permanently closed so far. A new microbrewery pub, Peconic County Brewery, has opened on the riverfront in 221 E. Main Street building on the corner of McDermott Avenue. A new cafe and bakery is opening in the former site of Blue Duck Bakery Cafe, which closed its Riverhead location in 2019. A new restaurant is planned for the former Hy Ting site on West Main Street, where the building, under new ownership, is undergoing renovations.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo initially ordered restaurants to shut down altogether last March. He allowed restaurants outside of New York City to open for outdoor dining in mid-June and eventually for indoor dining with limited occupancy. In November, downtown Riverhead was included in a designated “yellow zone” based on COVID test positivity rates of residents in downtown portions the Riverhead hamlet and Riverside. The designation meant additional restrictions on restaurants. Cuomo lifted the restrictions in Suffolk’s yellow zones on Jan. 27.

Michelangelo of Riverhead is the third restaurant to open and close at the former Main Street bank building, since it was first converted to a restaurant use by The Riverhead Project in the spring of 2011. The upscale restaurant, which opened with much fanfare, closed in September 2014 following settlement of an eviction proceeding for alleged nonpayment of $58,000 in rent, taxes and late fees.

Sonoma Grill opened at the location in October 2016 and closed a year later. The building sat vacant until it was rented by Michelangelo of Riverhead, which opened three years later. Michelangelo’s did extensive renovations inside and outside the building.

The property at 300 East Main Street is owned by Archangel Holding LLC, which paid $1.1 million for the site in February 2014.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.