01/27/14 1:03pm
01/27/2014 1:03 PM
NETFLIX COURTESY PHOTO | Taylor Schilling, center, and castmates in a scene from season one of 'Orange is the New Black.'

NETFLIX COURTESY PHOTO | Taylor Schilling, center, and castmates in a scene from season one of ‘Orange is the New Black.’

Apparently, “Orange is the New Black” can’t get enough of the Riverhead area.

The Netflix series, which we previously reported had been seeking “scary-looking” extras for scenes at the Riverside jail, will likely be filming in downtown Riverhead later this week. (Read more on northforker.com)

01/18/14 6:00pm
01/18/2014 6:00 PM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | An indoor farmers market will start Feb. 1 inside the former Swezey’s building in downtown Riverhead.

An indoor farmers market appears headed for downtown Riverhead next month.

Ray Pickersgill, president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District, said a number of farmers have already committed to the market, which is slated to be in the former Swezey’s building on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for 16 weeks.

The Riverhead Town Board is expected to formally give its approval Wednesday. The BID Management Association gave its approval last Wednesday.

Mr. Pickersgill suggested the farmers market is a better value that Trader Joe’s, the popular health food store that some residents have been trying to attract to Riverhead.

“We have such a diversity of farmers. If you go to Trader Joe’s, you’re not going to find some of the stuff we have,” Mr. Pickersgill said in an interview. “We have a meat guy, we have an oyster guy, we have yogurt people, we have a guy who makes empanadas. We have everything covered. We actually have more vendors than we have room for.”

He said he’s hoping that if the market takes off, it can be expanded to more days or possibly year-round, since some farmers don’t have farmstands.

The target date to open is Feb. 1.

The eastern half of the Swezey’s building is owned by Riverhead Enterprises, which owns several buildings downtown, and the BID will lease the building from them for $3,000 for the 16 days. (The western, and main, half of the former Swezey’s store is owned by someone else.)

Many of the markets committed to joining in Riverhead used to participate in a farmers market in Sag Harbor, which isn’t taking place this year.

“Generally, there is an indoor winter farmers market somewhere on the End End, that ends before Memorial Day, when all of the outdoor markets open,” said Chris Kempner, who heads the town’s Community Development office.

Ms. Kempner said she spoke with Holly Browder of Browder’s Birds, a poultry farmer from Mattituck who had participated in the Sag Harbor market, and the idea came up to have one in downtown Riverhead.

“There’s considerable interest from all the vendors that participate,” Ms. Kempner said at Thursday’s Town Board work session.

She said Mr. Pickersgill suggested it be in one of the downtown buildings, and he began speaking with Riverhead Enterpise about 117 East Main, she said.

“I think it fits in with the whole East End tourism goal of promoting tourism past November,” Ms. Browder told the Town Board Thursday. “A lot of us small farmers need to make money year-round.”

She said many small farmers on the East End are committed to working year-round.

Vendors will pay a fee of either $150 for the full 16 weeks, $100 for 10 weeks or $25 per week to participate.

The Riverhead Farmers Market, as it’s being called, already has a Facebook site up, and that site had more than 440 “likes” in two days.

“We had the first meeting about this last Wednesday (Jan. 8) and it kind of took off like a freight train,” Ms. Kempner told the Town Board Thursday.

tgannon@timesreview.com

01/18/14 10:00am
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Weight Watchers leader Rhonda Frisone, left, conducts an orientation for new members Friday morning in downtown Riverhead.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTOS | Weight Watchers leader Rhonda Frisone, left, conducts an orientation for new members Friday morning in downtown Riverhead.

Weight Watchers has moved into temporary digs in an empty space on East Main Street, next door to Riverhead Diner & Grill, while it waits for paperwork on a permanent location in downtown Riverhead to finalize.

“We’re looking to settle in somewhere down here,” said Lucia Ferraro, the weight loss company’s Eastern Suffolk County territory manager. The company relocated Wednesday to downtown Riverhead from its previous location on Route 58 in the former Walmart shopping center, she said.

“The shopping center wasn’t inviting for people to come in and feel comfortable,” Ms. Ferraro said. “I feel like we lost a lot of our membership as a result of that.”
WeightWatchersWP3

She said Weight Watchers plans to operate from its new location for the next few months, until a lease in an undisclosed space elsewhere on East Main Street is finalized.

In the meantime, Ms. Ferraro said, Weight Watchers is happy to be downtown.

“We wanted to support the community with our services and we see [downtown Riverhead] is starting to grow and develop into someplace with a nice, homey feel,” she said.

ryoung@timesreview.com

01/15/14 8:42pm
01/15/2014 8:42 PM
Andrea storm Riverhead

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Heidi Behr Way in downtown Riverhead’s riverfront park.

A proposal to have a barbecue cooking contest and blues festival along the Peconic River on Labor Day weekend got a chilly reception from the president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District’s management association Wednesday.

John Barci, who identified himself as being from Absolute Webb Advertising, is pitching a plan for a Blues, Brew Barbecue and Bacon Festival to be held in downtown Riverhead along the waterfront on Aug. 30-31.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Salon owner Ray Pickersgill (left) hears a pitch for a barbecue contest and music festival from John Barci at Wednesday night's BID management association meeting.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Salon owner Ray Pickersgill (left) hears a pitch for a barbecue contest from John Barci.

The local event would be part of the annual Empire State Barbecue Championship circuit and Mr. Barci hopes it can join with existing barbecue contests in Manorville and Brentwood to form a “triple crown” of Suffolk County barbecue contests.

The idea didn’t sit well with BID president Ray Pickersgill, who said that downtown events like the Blues Festival previously held in Riverhead don’t help businesses there.

“As a business owner, when you have a two-day event, I have to shut my business for two days,” Mr. Pickersgill said.

He said businesses that sell beer or food will be particularly angered by this proposal because it will compete with their businesses.

“I can tell you right now, they are going to scream and yell and carry on,” he said with the restaurateurs.

Mr. Pickersgill said the Riverhead Blue Festival that had been held downtown for many years was not popular with merchants there.

He suggested Mr. Barci consider a different location, like Polish Town, land at the Enterprise Park at Calverton or a large farm property like Martha Clara.

Mr. Barci said he didn’t consider other spots because he wanted to bring the festival to downtown Riverhead. He said he thought it would help businesses there.

“I think it’s a good event for Riverhead,” said BID board member Isabelle Gonzalez.

“I’ve always thought downtown events were positive,” said BID member Martin Sendlewski, who is an architect, though said he doesn’t own a restaurant or the type of business that would be effected by a big festival.

“Would you want to shut your business down and lose $3,000 a day?” Mr. Pickersgill, who owns Robert James Salon, asked.

“I’d figure out something to sell and make money off it,” Mr. Sendlewski responded.

“I tried that. It didn’t work,” Mr. Pickersgill said. He said one year he stayed open during the Country Fair and two older ladies had to walk all the way from the Suffolk County National Bank parking lot on Second Street to get their hair done at his Robert James Salon & Spa on East Main Street.

BID members advised Mr. Barci to speak with some downtown restaurant owners to get feedback from them.

tgannon@timesreview.com

01/09/14 9:46am
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Glass on the rear parking lot behind the Treasure Cove Marina and Hyatt Hotel.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Glass on the rear parking lot behind the Treasure Cove Marina and Hyatt Hotel.

Update, 12:00 p.m.: Hyatt executive director Bryan DeLuca confirmed that the teenager reportedly shot at Wednesday night was not a registered guest at the hotel.

Update, 10:30 a.m.: Hyatt general manager Steve Shauger said Thursday morning that he was unsure if the Bellport man reportedly involved in a Wednesday night shooting downtown was staying at the hotel as the teen had told police.

Shauger added in the morning that while the shooting was seen by witnesses at the hotel, and the man involved said he was at the hotel parking lot when it took place, the incident itself took place in the Treasure Cove parking lot.

“It was a shock when I heard about it this morning. The hotel hasn’t had any kinds of problems like this in the past,” he said.

The general manager added that security is on throughout the night guarding “the campus” between Hyatt Place, the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center. In addition, one desk agent is working at the front of the hotel during the night shift. Though he added that the employee didn’t hear anything until police showed up.

Original story: A shooting in downtown Riverhead Wednesday night left a Bellport teenager with a broken car window as he fled the scene near the Hyatt Hotel, Riverhead Town police said. No injuries were reported.

Police pulled over a car driving erratically on East Main Street about 11:15 p.m. last night and officers noticed the driver’s side window was broken. Jerome Eleazer, 19, told police that two masked people approached his car and one fired shots toward his vehicle in the rear parking lot of the Hyatt Hotel, where he had been staying, police said.

The suspects approached the car and ordered him out of the vehicle, police said. When he didn’t get out, one of the suspects fired into the car as Mr. Eleazer fled the scene, police said. Police do not currently suspect it was a random act. Mr. Eleazer, who was uninjured, told police he didn’t want to pursue the incident further.

Police reported that several witnesses at Hyatt Hotel saw the incident occur. Witnesses reported the suspects fired at the building and then fled with two other people in a car, police said.

The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact Riverhead police at (631) 727-4500.

According to court records, Mr. Eleazer pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs in November 2011. He was also arrested on a charge of fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance last October. Court records show he missed his Jan. 7 court appearance and is due back in court Feb. 4.

WITH JOE PINCIARO

01/02/14 3:00pm
01/02/2014 3:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | April Yakaboski (second from left) leads a ‘hot yoga’ class at her West Main Street studio in Riverhead.

April Yakaboski is building an empire on West Main Street — and the 2001 Riverhead High School graduate is doing it one inspired, in-shape fitness student at a time.

Ms. Yakaboski opened her Aerial Fitness studio in June 2009 with the idea that she would offer her clientele experiences they couldn’t get at any other area gym. She did so first through aerial silks. Her students, also called aerialists, use the silks to suspend themselves from the ceiling and use their muscles to stretch, spin, bounce and flip to music.

She’s since opened two more health and fitness locations nearby. Her Hot Yoga studio occupies the second floor of the WRIV building — and gained regional media attention for its “Broga” classes for men. The latest addition, Spin-Sanity, opened in October in space previously occupied by The Hamptons Furniture Co. The spin cycle studio features 29 RealRyder stationary bikes, which she purchased from a Westhampton Beach fitness studio that had recently closed its doors.

For her creativity, business acumen and help in rebuilding a once-beleagured area, Ms. Yakaboski is the News-Review’s 2013 Business Person of the Year.

She also runs a paddleboard business on the Peconic River during the warmer months with friend and studio employee Rachel Goodale, offering locals as well as visitors to Riverhead’s East End Hyatt Place hotel a peaceful place to unwind on the water.

“She really wants to give clients what they want, so everything is based on what she gets back from clients,” said Ms. Goodale. “She has people of all ages, that’s the best part. She has as 73-year-old client who looks like she’s 50 because she works out every day. It’s an awesome place to work. I love going there and I love working there.”

She described Ms. Yakaboski as someone who’s “always thinking outside the box.”

Downtown Riverhead is also seeing the benefits of foot traffic, as the studios attract hundreds of people to the area each week.

“I try to do what the bigger gyms aren’t doing,” Ms. Yakaboski told the News-Review recently.

Even the spin cycles at Spin-Sanity are available at only four other locations on Long Island, said Roland Walker, who teaches a Sunday morning class in Riverhead. RealRyder-style stationary bikes “offers more of a core and upper body workout,” he said. The bikes – which go for about $2,000 a piece – pivot from side to side, offering a more real-life experience.

“There’s very few in the U.S., period,” he said. “She recruited me because she knew that I knew about that type of bike. They are very few instructors that are certified at teaching those bikes.

“It’s a big gamble, no doubt,” Mr. Walker said.

To hedge her bets, Ms. Yakaboski will seek certification for the unique bikes in January, along with Ms. Goodale and others.

For those involved, working in Ms. Yakaboski’s businesses doesn’t feel much like work.

The 200-plus clients are more like family, Ms. Goodale said, coming together daily for positive reasons.

“People see results quicker when they come to her studios,” she said. “People will say, ‘I was sick of going to the gym and doing the same routine.’ Everyone’s getting results and it’s fun. We look forward to seeing each other; everyone’s become friends.”

mwhite@timesreview.com

12/20/13 10:00am
12/20/2013 10:00 AM
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Tom Mielnicki of Riverhead hopes to convert this vacant building on West Main Street in Riverhead into a restaurant called Simple Table.

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Tom Mielnicki of Riverhead hopes to convert this vacant building on West Main Street in Riverhead into a restaurant called Simple Table.

Simple Table, a new restaurant proposed on West Main Street along the banks of the Peconic River, received site plan approval from the Riverhead Town Planning Board on Thursday.

The proposed 40-seat restaurant on 305 West Street, across from Concern for Independent Living, is expected to be open by April at best and Memorial Day at the latest, according to Tom Mielnicki, who bought the property earlier this year and plans to run the restaurant with his 23-year-old daughter, Ariana, a culinary student at Suffolk County Community College.

The Mielnickis have described the proposed restaurant as offering “comfort food served family style.”

Mr. Mielnicki, who is vice president of the Polish Town Civic Association, will be the executive chef at the new restaurant.

“This is another vacant store downtown that’s gonna be filled up with a good use,” said Planning Board member Ed Densieski in casting his vote in favor of the site plan. “I’m looking forward to it.”

The application has approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the town architectural review board, and the state Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act, which limits what can be built along the Peconic River.

“We’ll also have a kayak launching area on the river,” Mr. Mielnicki said following the approval. He said the state DEC recommended that.

The proposal calls for converting a vacant building on the site into an office and building an 18-foot addition addition on the building.

Mr. Mielnicki said he still has some paperwork and some construction to do on the property, which measures .31 of an acre.

The property currently includes three buildings, including the one designated for the proposed restaurant. One of the smaller structures is currently used as an office, and Mr. Mielnicki has said he plans to build a small addition to connect two buildings that are just eight inches apart, giving the restaurant a total of roughly 2,300 square feet. The third building will remain freestanding.