A sign in the window of Spicy's barbecue restaurant last Wednesday says, "Sorry We Will Be Temporarily Closed. Photo: Alek Lewis

Spicy’s, Long Island’s oldest barbecue restaurant, closed its doors about a week ago.

The iconic West Main Street restaurant has had signs posted in its windows since last Tuesday saying the restaurant is “temporarily closed.”

Spicy’s employees told customers last week the restaurant is closed due to a chicken shortage. Restaurant owners have declined comment.

Landlord Dee Muma, who in 2012 bought the one-acre riverfront property where the barbecue joint has operated since 1978, said Spicy’s founder and co-owner, Terry “Spicy” Stoner, told her last week the restaurant was closed for good. Terry Stoner owns the business with his son, Rick Stoner.

“They had the gas and electric shut off,” Muma told RiverheadLOCAL. “And Spicy said they’d be turning over possession,” she said.

The restaurant’s phone number is “not in service” according to the telephone company’s recorded message.

A call Thursday to a cell phone number Muma provided, which she said belonged to Terry “Spicy” Stoner, was answered by Josie Stoner, Terry Stoner’s daughter. Josie Stoner, a longtime Spicy’s employee, said Thursday she was at the restaurant cleaning.

Josie Stoner, longtime Spicy’s employee, whose father Terry ‘Spicy’ Stoner and brother, Rick Stoner, own the restaurant.
File photo: Peter Blasl

“I’ve been here cleaning all day, because I don’t want to leave her in a mess,” Josie Stoner said, referring to landlord Muma. But then Josie Stoner said the business was closing “temporarily.” When questioned about the apparent contradiction in her statements — cleaning up before leaving the premises to Muma versus closing temporarily — Josie Stoner said, “Well, that’s all I’m allowed to say.”

Josie Stoner provided RiverheadLOCAL with two other cell phone numbers for contacting her brother and father. A call to one of the numbers Thursday was unanswered and a voicemail message was not returned. A man returned a call made to the second number but said he was neither Terry nor Rick Stoner, and hung up.

Text messages to all three cell phone numbers today seeking information and a response to Muma’s statements produced one reply, from someone who did not identify himself or herself :

“No comment at this time. Temporarily closed.”

Spicy’s was temporarily closed once before, when the restaurant was seized in April 2018 by the New York State sales tax authorities for nonpayment of sales tax, with a sales tax warrant recorded at that time against Rick Stoner and Spicy’s Chicken Restaurant for more than $229,000. The restaurant was closed on April 24, 2018. The owners worked out a payment plan and the Riverhead restaurant was able to reopen by mid-May. The family’s second location in Bellport did not reopen.

Currently, the outstanding amount on the 2018 sales tax warrant was $95,711 as of June 18, according to state tax warrant information posted online by the State Department of Taxation and Finance.

A second sales tax warrant was recorded against Rick Stoner and Spicy’s Chicken Restaurant on Oct. 28, 2020 in the amount of $81,052.59. The outstanding amount on that warrant was $9,024.71 as of June 18, according to the state website.

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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.