02/06/13 10:00am

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Applicants fill out paperwork at the job fair held at the County Center in Riverhead Tuesday.

The Suffolk County Department of Labor held a job fair at the County Center in Riverhead Tuesday, an event county officials were calling the first of its kind on the East End outside of fairs held at public libraries.

The fair was to fill eight positions at Adchem, an adhesive company located on Route 58 in Riverhead.

The Department of Labor’s director of business services Kirk Cronk said he believes job fairs in Eastern Suffolk will become more common as manufacturers move into areas east of Hauppauge.

The county department of labor holds about 20 job fairs a year, though Mr. Cronk said companies that participate aren’t always hiring. Though only about 10 interviewees showed up in the first couple hours of the Adchem job fair, he said the event was more likely to lead to a hiring than most fairs the Department of Labor hosts.

“The advantage to the people is that, beside putting in an application, which many places do online anyway, is that when they come down here, they’re getting an interview,” he said. “The advantage to the company is that I’m reaching out to a database of more than 6,000 people via email, plus I get the word out through community organizations and public officials that a company is hiring and looking for certain positions.”

Riverhead resident Brandon Spellman, who attended the event, said future job fairs with multiple hiring companies would be ideal for his job search, as would more events on the East End.

Mr. Spellman has been in the job market for two months and he interviewed for an open web developer position with Adchem, where he previously worked five years ago.

“All the job fairs are on Veterans Highway and a lot of people can’t get up there,” Mr. Spellman said. “When they see that, they’re discouraged to go for the interview, because if you can’t get to the job fair, then how will you be able to get to work?”

Mr. Spellman wasn’t the only Riverhead resident and former Adchem employee to attend the event.

Alvin Cross, who worked for Adchem in 1995, said finding employment remains difficult in the current economic climate.

“I’ve been looking for a job for approximately seven months and it’s tough,” Mr. Cross said. “I’ll keep looking, but I’m a tattoo artist on the side, so I try to catch a call here and there.”

gvolpe@timesreview.com

02/02/13 10:00am
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO  |  Papo Vazquez, left, with Willie Williams on saxophone at Raphael Vineyards during last year's Winterfest.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Papo Vazquez, left, with Willie Williams on saxophone at Raphael Vineyards during last year’s Winterfest.

It’s that time of year again when visitors from across the Northeast flock to Long Island Wine Country for Winterfest Jazz on the Vine.

The six-weekend jazz-and-wine celebration kicked off Jan. 25 with a media event and party at Hotel Indigo in Riverhead, with shows booked at select winery tasting rooms Feb. 9 and 10. The festival runs through the weekend of March 16 and 17.

Now in its sixth year, Winterfest has helped the local wine region evolve from a seasonal tourist attraction to a year-round getaway, boosting business at local hotels, restaurants and B&Bs, area businesspeople say.

RELATED: Complete series schedule for Jazz on Vine 2013

In addition to attracting visitors to tasting rooms during traditionally slow months, Winterfest has proved a factor in the North Fork’s recognition as a top wine destination, said Rob Salvatico of the Hotel Indigo. “It used to be that roughly after Thanksgiving you could shut your doors until mid- to late April or May,” Mr. Salvatico said. “Now the weekends are rocking from Valentine’s straight through Saint Patrick’s Day. There’s a lull during Passover and Easter, but then it starts to pick right back up again.”

Mr. Salvatico said from a revenue perspective the numbers Winterfest brings to the region are enough to transform a winter Saturday to a summer Saturday, and last year’s event brought nearly 10,000 visitors to the North Fork over the six weeks.

“Jazz on the Vine is the theme of Long Island Winterfest,” he said, “I don’t think they intended for it to always be jazz, but it was so popular that it’s become a fixture. If you’re a jazz enthusiast, this is going to become a destination for your yearly jazz jaunts.”

He said the popularity of Winterfest hit a new high in 2012 for it’s fifth year anniversary, when Hotel Indigo held a kickoff showcase event for the first time in their ballroom, and supper-style events throughout the six weeks.

“On Saturday nights the musicians would come back to the Hotel Indigo and have jazz jam sessions in our bistro and it was so popular we had to turn people away,” he said. “Every weekend was just wild.”

This year’s event shows no signs of slowing down, according to the president of the Long Island Wine Council trade group, Ron Goerler.

“We have the most acts ever this year,” Mr. Goerler said. “We chose 72 acts to perform at 30 wineries over six weeks. We had 250 people apply to play during Jazz on the Vine this year, so that shows just how much it’s growing.”

Mr. Goerler said the region used to get money from Suffolk County and New York State to fund the festival, but wineries had to charge cover fees for events after grants began drying up.

But that didn’t stop people from visiting, he said.

“Last year we had a record 7,500 people come out for the event and with the region being named [by Wine Enthusiast magazine] one of the top four wine regions in the world to visit in 2013, I’m looking forward to seeing how many people come out this year,” Mr. Goerler said.

The event brought people from as far south as Philadelphia and as far north as upper Westchester and Connecticut, along with folks from New York City and New Jersey, according to Mr. Salvatico, who said Winterfest has “without question” been part of Hotel Indigo’s success through 2012.

“Winterfest actually gave birth to our having live music on Fridays and Saturdays,” he said. “We do that throughout the year now. Anyone can play Muzak all day, but having live music a couple times a week adds an air of elegance and style to the facility. It’s an amenity for our guests and a draw for people locally to come have dinner with us.”

gvolpe@timesreview.com

02/01/13 4:30pm
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO  |  Councilman John Dunleavy welcomes owner Rose Nyugen and her boyfriend Dan Tran to Polish Town Friday afternoon.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Councilman John Dunleavy welcomes owner Rose Nyugen and her boyfriend Dan Tran to Polish Town Friday afternoon.

Rose Nyugen has been in the nail care business for more than two decades and Friday afternoon, her new Riverhead pampering business, Eastern Nails and Spa, held its grand opening on Osborn Avenue.

The business will provide clients with an array of pampering services, including manicures, pedicures, facials, massages and makeup. Clients will also have an unique option of permanent make-up in tattoo form.

Ms. Nyugen plans to be a hands-on owner, continuing to do manicures and more for customers alongside her six employees.

Once a nail technician on Old Country Road for more than a decade, Ms. Nyugen opened her own business in Hampton Bays a few years ago, before recently moving back to Riverhead at the suggestion of local diva philanthropist, Dhonna Goodale.

“I told her from a business point of view, I would go back to Riverhead,” Ms. Goodale said. “She has big following here and when you move to another town, people don’t foliow you. And she’s missed. Here we need something a little more special.”

She said having a hair salon and pizzeria as neighbors make it an ideal location.

Neighbors Neat & Complete Hair Cutters and Carlo’s Pizza Oven offered their support at the grand opening event and said they are on board with the idea of cooperating to maximize business at the small Osborn Avenue strip mall.

Carlo’s offered to provide food for those who get hungry while they’re pampered at Eastern Nail and Spa.

Neat & Complete said the spa will provide the perfect haven for the tired mother to get a massage or pedicure while family members get groomed next door.

The two businesses also provided gift certificates and goodies to be raffled off to grand opening attendees.

Ms. Nyugen had tears in her eyes as she thanked Ms. Goodale and the Riverhead Town Board, present at the event, for their help in shepherding the business’s development and opening.

“Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me,” she said.

“Riverhead appreciates you coming here,” said town board member John Dunleavy. “Rose has been here for years, she has a following here. She had to go to Hampton Bays, but we just love to have you back here in Riverhead to start your business here. Riverhead is behind you 110 percent … We’re here for you and we want your business to flourish and grow in the town of Riverhead.”

gvolpe@timesreview.com

01/30/13 8:00am

Moustache

The Crooked Ladder Brewing Company, which plans to open soon next to West Main Street’s Digger O’Dell’s pub, may not be the new kid on the block for very long.

Moustache Brewing Company, the brainchild of Central Islip couple Matt and Lauri Spitz, went from a pipe — or rather, barrel — dream to a dream all but realized after a successful kick-starter campaign brought in more than $30,000 in startup capital this past spring, the owners said.

“We’re excited and of course a bit nervous because this is all brand-new territory for us” said Matt Spitz, whose moustache matches the company’s handle-barred logo. “We plan to start small with a one-barrel brew system and build things up over the next few years, as far as the volume of our production goes.”

This is the couple’s first business venture. Mr. Spitz is a musician who plays bass guitar in a reggae band. Ms. Spitz is a health information manager for a medical practice.

Moustache Brewing has leased a commercial building on Hallett Street in Polish Town, which they plan to use mostly for production. Mr. Spitz isn’t expecting a lot of walk-in traffic.

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO  |  Co-owner Mike Spitz stands in front of the future site of Moustache Brewery in Riverhead's Polish Town on Tuesday afternoon.

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Co-owner Matt Spitz stands in front of the future site of Moustache Brewery in Riverhead’s Polish Town on Tuesday afternoon.

“There won’t be a bar or a fancy tasting room,” he said. “We’ll just have some taps on the wall where people can get samples or growlers and go.”

Lauri Spitz said signing the lease on Saturday brought an exhausting search to an end.

“We’ve been looking for a place since June of last year,” she said. “So it’s really exciting to have found a home.”

The Spitzes, who have been married for over five years and home-brewing for eight, originally wanted to build their brewery in Nassau County, which Mr. Spitz said currently has only one brewery. He cited Riverhead Town’s enthusiasm for their proposed venture as a reason for landing on the North Fork.

“They were one of the only towns to welcome us with open arms,” said Mr. Spitz. “A lot of the towns we talked to weren’t sure what to do with a brewery, but the town of Riverhead has been great.”

Riverhead’s first brewery, the Long Ireland Beer Company, not only welcomes the new business but has also helped the first-time entrepreneurs.

“When we heard they were considering coming to Riverhead we directed them to a few possible locations,” said Greg Martin, Long Ireland co-owner. “We don’t see them as competition. We want Riverhead to become a destination for craft beer. Look at the wineries. People will come out here and hit multiple wineries during their visits.”

The addition of Moustache Brewery will bring the number of breweries in a half-mile radius to three.

“There’s us and Long Ireland, and then Digger’s and Crooked Ladder are on their way to building a brew pub,” said Mr. Spitz. “It’s going to be fantastic.”

The owners hope the new brewery will open by the end of this summer.

“That would be optimal,” he said.

gvolpe@timesreview.com

01/28/13 12:52pm

Ever wonder what it would be like to ride a roller coaster at a water park? This summer, you’ll sort of have your chance.

The northeast’s first hydro-magnetic water coaster is currently being constructed at Splish Splash, according to park general manager Mike Bengston. The ride will be available when the park reopens Memorial Day weekend.

“The rafts are propelled by magnets, located on the raft and the slide itself,”  Mr. Bengston said of the company’s multi-million dollar investment. ”Using linear induction motors, the ride will pull the raft back uphill again after going downhill. It will be almost like a roller coaster. There are rides that use water to propel rafts back uphill, which makes for a bumpy, uncomfortable ride. This will be a much smoother ride. You don’t feel yourself being pulled back uphill and it gets you back up to a high point much quicker.”

The general manager said the new ride, which will be located between Hollywood Stunt Rider and Dr. VonDark’s Tunnel of Terror, will be called Bootlegger’s Run, which he said gives a clue to its theme.

It is the single biggest investment the park has made, according to Mr. Bengston, and will be the seventh hydromagnetic water coaster built in the United States.

“There are several others worldwide, but there’s no others in the State of New York or in the entire Northeast,” he said. “There are a couple other facilities, such as the Great Wharf Lodge in the Poconos, that have ones using conveyor belts, but it’s entirely different technology.”

Bootlegger’s Run was built by the Canadian company Proslide, who have patented hydromagnetic technology, according to Mr. Bengton.

He said Proslide has manufactured more than 95 percent of the rides at Splish Splash.

“It’s a four-person raft so up to four people can ride and there’s no tower you have to climb to get on the ride. There’s a loading area at the bottom where you enter the raft and then a conveyor belt initially pulls you uphill like a rollercoaster,” he said. “The ride is 1,000 feet long and it takes almost two minutes from loading to finish.”

This is significant as most of the park’s rides are done in about 20 seconds.

The park received site plan approval for several attractions in 2008, including Bootlegger’s Run, Dr. VonDark’s Tunnel of Terror and a Johnny Rockets restaurant.

gvolpe@timesreview.com

01/27/13 12:45pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO Keith Luce demonstrates how he makes sea salt for a previous Suffolk Times article.

Acclaimed local chef Keith Luce is currently heading up a kickstarter page to raise funds for a smokehouse he said will help him develop his cured meats.  But you’ll have to settle for reading between the lines if you want to know exactly where he plans to sell those meats.

“All of the pieces of the puzzle, including a storage and cutting facility are secured and two retail/wholesale outlets will be launched in the spring of 2013 to help sell and market the fabricated end product — Artisan cured meats,” Mr. Luce wrote on the kickstarter page for Love Lane Market Artisinal Curing.

While the name of the page certainly gives a large clue to where one of the two retail outlets might be, Mr. Luce said he isn’t ready to divulge too many details.

“It’s a project I’ve been working on and is an extension of my family farm,” the former White House sous chef told The Suffolk Times. “I’m working on being able to say more.”

The Love Lane Market, which has sold Mr. Luce’s products since it opened in 2011, has been closed following damage from Superstorm Sandy. A message written Dec. 2 on the market’s Facebook page said it would reopen after repairs to the store’s damaged refrigeration units are complete.

Mr. Luce needs to raise $50,000 before March 4 in order to receive his kickstarter donations. So far, 17 backers have donated about $2,000.

The chef has been making moves since stepping down as executive chef of the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in December. That month, he consulted on the menu for The All Star, the long-awaited bowling alley and restaurant that opened on Route 58 in Riverhead, near the intersection of Route 105.

Now, he hopes to take the farm-to-table concept to a whole new level on the North Fork.

His cured meat products, which he said includes ham, bacon and sausage, are from a small herd of Mangalitsa pigs he’s been raising on his family’s Sound Avenue farm.

According to his kickstarter page, the pigs are free ranging on five acres of farmland and are fed fresh vegetable scraps from his restaurant kitchen, spent grain from a local micro-brewery and cooked potatoes.

gvolpe@timesreview.com

01/25/13 5:11pm
COURTESY PHOTO | Toni Demeo, left, the first senatorial district's Woman of Distinction of 2012 and ELIH CEO Paul Connor.

COURTESY PHOTO | Toni Demeo, left, the first senatorial district’s Woman of Distinction of 2012 and ELIH CEO Paul Connor.

The search is on for the next “Woman of Distinction.”

In May, super-volunteer Toni DeMeo of Eastern Long Island Hospital was named 2012′s “Woman of Distinction” for the 1st Senatorial District. Now, Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) is seeking nominations for this year’s award, which honors exceptional achievement, personal excellence and outstanding, courageous or heroic actions on the part of a woman.

“In past years, honorees have joined me at a special reception in Albany to accept the Woman of Distinction award,” Mr. LaValle said. “Award recipients have had the opportunity to meet with a cross section of women from senate districts throughout New York whose hard work and dedication have helped enrich our state and communities.”

Ms. DeMeo, a Cutchogue resident, volunteered at ELIH for more than 15 years. She was chosen for the award from a pool of 10 residents.

Nominations for this year’s recipient for the 1st Senatorial District, which stretches from Port Jefferson across the East End, are accepted until April 5. Nominations can be made online.

gvolpe@timesreview.com

01/21/13 3:23pm

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Inauguration Day partiers at Bedell Cellars, which provided wine for the inaugural luncheon in Washington, D.C.

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Inauguration Day partiers at Bedell Cellars, which provided wine for the inaugural luncheon in Washington, D.C.

As North Fork wine was being poured during Monday’s inaugural luncheon on the occasion of the country’s first African-American president taking his second oath of office, this time on Martin Luther King Day, the Cutchogue winery that produced that vintage was holding a celebration of its own.

Among the first to arrive at Bedell Cellars, whose 2009 merlot was served in D.C., was East Marion resident Sarah Malone. As an African-American who remembers the racial strife of the civil rights movement, the day was an especially poignant reminder of the history made four years ago.

“It’s for real now,” Ms. Malone said, “The first election was special, but this one is even better.”

She said the president gave a “fabulous” inaugural address. “He made reference to everything, that he knows he is being sworn in there because of Martin Luther King Jr’s foot soldiers,” she said. “I’ve been sitting at home watching this all unfold, even the election. But this, to be out with people, makes me feel like I’m there.”

Ms. Malone was one of the many at Bedell Cellars watching the inaugural celebration on the tasting room’s television, sipping wine while members of the United States Supreme Court and Congress also enjoyed a North Fork wine at the inaugural luncheon.

Bedell’s winemaker, Richard Olsen-Harbich, thanked Senator Charles Schumer for adding their wine to the menu. He also acknowledged those who also had their hand in the wine’s creation.

“Kelly Urbanik, Kip Bedell and Seferino Cotzojay started this wine and made the initial decisions about how it was going to be fermented and some of the blending requirements,” Mr. Olsen-Harbich said. “When I came here in 2010, the first thing I did was bottle the 2008 wines, so this wine was in barrels at the time. Drew Sepielli, one of our interns and cellar master in 2011, worked with me from summer of 2010 till last year and also spent a lot of time taking care of this wine, so it was truly a team effort.”

He said the choice of Bedell’s wine at the luncheon speaks well for the entire region.

“This achievement gives our region a seat at the table with the best in the country and I think we deserve it,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time and seeing this happen after so long is just incredible.”