RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Patrick Gaeta curing bacon earlier this year.
When Patrick Gaeta launched North Fork Bacon earlier this year, the Wading River resident’s objective was simple: to offer customers premium bacon, smoked and cured the old-fashioned way, by hand.
North Fork Bacon, which is made from Berkshire pigs sourced out of upstate New York, popped up on the menus of multiple local restaurants this summer, including as a burger topping at Blackwells at Great Rock in Wading River. For a time, it was available for sale in one-pound packages at My Butcher, also in Wading River.
Now Mr. Gaeta, 31, is taking the next step in the future of North Fork Bacon by setting up shop in the retail space formerly occupied by The Pizza Pie, a 13-year-old pizzeria in the historic Wading River business district owned by Mike Roth that closed its doors in October.
Mr. Gaeta, a full-time x-ray technician at Long Island Bone and Joint, received the keys to his new storefront Nov. 4 and is shooting to open for business by March 1, he said. Joining him as a business partner in the venture is his friend and former co-worker, Michael Troyan.
“Lets face it,” Mr. Gaeta said. “Every town you go to has some form of diner, a deli that just blasts out sandwiches, three to five pizzerias and a Chinese food place. I want to bring a style of barbecue and restaurant to the area that many people haven’t seen and aren’t familiar with.”
Last month, Mr. Roth, who is also the president of the Wading River Chamber of Commerce, told the News-Review he might not stay in business much longer.
“I’ll just try to hold on as best I can,” he said at the time.
To better reflect menu offerings — egg sandwiches, omelets, waffles, barbecue sandwiches and cured meats smoked in-house are all planned in addition to bacon — Mr. Gaeta said the name of the business will change to North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse. The restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch, he said, and will only be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the first few months of its debut. To ensure freshness, North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse will close its doors once all the day’s food is gone, Mr. Gaeta said.
“No one wants to see trays of prepared food coming out of the walk-in [freezer] and then heated up,” he said. “We’ll be doing everything fresh daily.”
Despite the fact that many of the storefronts in the historic Wading River business district sit empty, Mr. Gaeta – whose first job was at the now-closed Trotta’s Pizza Café in Wading River, located in the same retail space he’ll be moving into — isn’t concerned about being able to attract customers.
“We’re the only major thoroughfare to Wading River Beach,” he said of the business district’s location at the intersection of Sound Road and North Country Road. “Traffic is always going through there and with a place serving quality food, it’ll bring a crowd.
“I think of where I like to eat,” Mr. Gaeta said. “If the quality is there, it’s worth the trip.”