Riverhead couple to open NYC-style deli & market

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | Tahir Baig and Kaleigh Van Vilet plan to open "Off Main," a New York style deli on Griffing Avenue in Riverhead.

A new deli and market will soon be coming to downtown Riverhead, occupying the Osborn Avenue building that housed the recently closed Peconic Baking Company.

Tahir Baig of Riverhead and his wife, Kaleigh Van Vliet-Baig, plan to open their Off Main eatery, which the couple describes as a New York City-style deli. sometime in May.

Off Main will feature a market and deli, salad bar and bakery and, according to its Facebook page, will carry “a full line of Boar’s Head deli meats, fresh produce, imported cheeses and floral to make your table the best in town.”

Fresh baked bread, muffins and homemade pastrami are just some of the items Mr. Baig said he hopes to offer. They also hope to offer catering and free delivery.

Mr. Baig noted that he is modeling the store after the Citarella gourmet market in East Hampton.

Ms. Van Vliet-Baig, a student at the Suffolk County Community College culinary arts program headquartered in Riverhead and a 2004 Riverhead High School graduate, will oversee the kitchen. Mr. Baig, who has over a decade of grocery store experience, will oversee the deli’s front end.

“We’re putting our skills together,” Ms. Van Vliet-Baig said. “We’ve always wanted to open something we could be proud of.”
Mr. Baig, a Rocky Point native, said he has considered opening a deli for the past decade. When a friend told him the space on Osborn Avenue was available, he jumped at the chance. The couple signed the lease at the end of February.

“I was a clerk at a gas station living somebody else’s dream,” Mr. Baig said. “I wanted to live my own.”

The couple had originally considered opening at the site of the former Katrinka Deli on Main Road in Jamesport, but that deal fell through.

Mr. Baig said the Riverhead location works better for his vision, especially since there are no grocery stores downtown.

Construction has not yet begun on the store’s interior, but Mr. Baig said he envisions a dry goods section near the store’s entrance and a bakery and kitchen toward the back. They still need to secure building permits and Suffolk County Health Department approvals.

Nevertheless, the process of opening up the store doesn’t seem to intimidate the first-time business owners.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “You learn as you go along.”

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