09/22/13 5:30pm
09/22/2013 5:30 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter is flanked by Jeff and Christine McKay is celebrating the opening of their new venture, Vines & Hops, in downtown Riverhead Sunday.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter is flanked by Jeff and Christine McKay is celebrating the opening of their new venture, Vines & Hops, in downtown Riverhead Sunday.

A new business opened up in downtown Riverhead this weekend.

Vines & Hops is a collaboration between a married couple — a strength and conditioning coach and a physical therapist — who are changing course to sell wine, beer, coffee and Artisan foods.

Jeff McKay of Jamesport is the strength and conditioning coach and massage therapist, and his wife, Christine, is the physical therapist.

“I just didn’t want to do it anymore,” Jeff said in explaining his new venture. “I’ve been doing it for 30 years and I just said, ‘You know what? I’m done.’ So I basically just reinvented myself. People were saying ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this.’”

They are.

The McKays hosted a ribbon cutting at the newly opened Vines & Hops, which is located in a storefront on Main Street across from the former Woolworth building.

“We started this whole process back in the spring,” Jeff said. “I think it was in March, we had looked around at a couple of places in Jamesport, and they fell through, which we’re kind of happy about now. Then one day, I told my wife I was going to call around and see what’s available on Main Street. I had gotten in touch with Ike Israel of Richmond Realty and when he told me what they wanted for this, I almost fell off the couch. Back in the 90s, this storefront would have been triple what we’re paying now.”

The McKays quickly went about working on the lease and getting a liquor license. Given the choice of taking their time and opening in the middle of winter or rushing to open at the end of summer, the McKays chose now.

“We’re looking to have entertainment after the Holidays,” Mr. McKay said. “Just an acoustic guitar on weekends. And next year, since the drive-through next door is part of this property, we are looking to do an outdoor beer garden, which will also have wine. And the whole brick facade is going to be a continuous waterfall.”

Vines & Hops has two large-screen televisions on the wall, wi-fi available for computer users and a number of couches for patrons to sit on.

The menu has buttermilk dough slider rolls from Goodale Farms in Aquebogue, filled with flank steak or Buffalo chicken;  empanadas with spinach- and goat cheese-filled pocket crusts and other Artisan small plate and dessert bar menu items.

And they have locally made craft beers and wines from the likes of Long Ireland, which is based in Riverhead, Southampton Public House, Pindar, based in Peconic and others. They also sell various specialty coffees and teas, such as latte, cappuccino, and espresso.

Mr. McKay said he’s happy to be a part of downtown Riverhead’s renovation.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, who attended the ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the site Sunday, concurred.

“I am so happy you’re taking a chance on us, because we will do everything at our disposal to make you a success,” Mr. Walter said.

tgannon@timesreview.com

07/03/13 12:00pm
07/03/2013 12:00 PM

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Vine & Hops Café is expected to open on East Main Street in downtown Riverhead later this summer.

A Jamesport couple plans to open a new wine, beer and coffee shop called Vines & Hops Café in downtown Riverhead next month.

Jeff McKay, a strength and conditioning coach who will be operating the 2,200 square-foot café with his wife, physical therapist Christine McKay, told the News-Review the East Main Street café will offer wine from the North Fork and California along with gourmet coffee and a variety of local craft beers.

“I’ve always wanted to get into the hospitality business and it just formulated in my head because there was nothing out here on the East End like this,” Mr. McKay said.

Artisan food prepared by the North Fork Chocolate Company including cheese platters, flatbread, chocolates and truffles will also be on the menu, which Mr. McKay said will change slightly according to season.

The space will also include couches, televisions in the “beer section,” and a gift shop area where customers can purchase gift baskets.The business will only serve wine that has a 90-point or higher distinction of greatness from Wine Spectator magazine.

“We want to bring quality products,” Mr. McKay said of the café, which he describes as having a “European feel, right down to the lighting.”

“The prices will be extremely affordable, though,” he said.

Vines & Hops Café will be located next to TheWarStore.com, a game shop that opened last month. Both rental properties, along with Twin Forks Bicycles, are owned by Riverhead Enterprises.

“This is the sixth new lease in an 18-month period that we’ve signed,” said Sheldon Gordon, the managing general partner of Riverhead Enterprises. “It’s been remarkable what the interest coming to downtown has been. It’s quite gratifying.”

In Mr. McKay’s estimation, downtown Riverhead is close to being an ideal location for Vines & Hops Café.

“We looked at [opening the shop] in Greenport but it didn’t appeal to us because the winters are so slow there,” Mr. McKay said. “With the theater open and businesses are starting to pop up, we thought, ‘Let’s take advantage of the opportunity and settle into downtown Riverhead.’”

Once the shop opens, Mr. McKay and his wife plan to encourage customers to kick back and relax with their favorite drink.

“We consider ourselves the ‘before’ and ‘after’ place – you can come here before a show or a movie,” Mr. McKay said. “People will be able to come and recognize their favorite beverage and have it in a comfortable atmosphere. It’s not a bar and it’s not a restaurant.

“It’ll be as if you’re home in your living room.”

ryoung@timesreview.com