Monday Briefing: saving Farm Country Kitchen

The porch overlooking the Peconic River at Farm Country Kitchen restaurant.

Is there hope for the Farm Country Kitchen?

Farm Country Kitchen’s owner, Tom Carson, and Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter met last Thursday to discuss the possibility of Mr. Carson keeping the business open in its current location along the Peconic River on West Main Street, both men told me in separate interviews.

The meeting came the same day a story appeared in the News-Review reporting the Town Board authorized bringing the case against the business to state Supreme Court.

The town says the Mr. Carson’s property isn’t approved for a restaurant, just a take-out place.

During Thursday’s meeting, Mr. Walter urged Mr. Carson to move the business in a new location closer to the downtown business district, but the restaurateur insisted that was impossible, as the entire operation would lose its charm. The two then discussed other possibilities, such as making the business into a bed and breakfast and continuing to operate the restaurant as an accessory use. Mr. Carson would still have to address parking and handicapped accessibility issues, Mr. Walter said.

Either way, Mr. Carson will have to go through a site-plan approval process, the supervisor insisted.

There’s no doubt the Farm Country Kitchen is one of the most popular and unique food destinations in town. I told my colleagues last week I wished the business had been operating in that little house on the river for the past 100 years, possibly allowing it to be grandfathered-in and continue to operate. It’s so popular, it certainly feels like it’s been there forever

Let’s hope Mr. Carson and the town could reach some sort of logical conclusion that could keep the business open — at least close to its current form — while still maintaining fair and equitable code enforcement policies for all Riverhead businesses, from restaurants to vineyards to box stores.

It may cost Mr. Carson some bucks, though. Good thing he has already proven he knows how to generate money.

• I know that last entry felt somewhat like a news story, but I wanted to spice up today’s Monday Briefing after a few weeks away from penning this regular feature. If anyone feels there’s something coming up or happening worth noting in this column, please feel free to email me ahead of time. I write first thing in the morning every Monday, except for holidays.

• It was a busy weekend for summer events, even though tomorrow, June 21 at 1:16 p.m. marks the official start of summer.

Local African-Americans and others celebrated the 10th annual Juneteenth Day celebration in Stotzky Park, organized by the East End Voters Coalition.

Juneteenth is the commemoration of June 19, 1865, the date when Major General Gordon Granger led a band of Union soldiers to Galveston, Texas, the last location in the America to practice slavery. All slaves had been freed with the issue of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, though it was about two and half years before slaves working in Texas learned that fact.

The event featured games, guest speakers and an essay contest. I liked the banner that read, “From the slave house to the White House.”

While the event recalls the horrors of slavery, Juneteenth Day is, above all, a celebration of freedom. Much credit and thanks is due to Robert “Bubbie” Brown for starting it, and for keeping it going.

• Across the river Saturday, in Flanders, Friends of the Big Duck celebrated the Big Ducks’ 80th anniversary with a birthday cake, refreshments, music, games and prizes. The Big Duck was constructed by the Maurer family in 1931 at the duck farm on West Main Street in Riverhead. It was moved to its current location from Red Creek Park in 2008. Click here for photos.

• Another weather-friendly Father’s Day is in the books. I hope all those fathers out there enjoyed their day to relax and feel appreciated. For me, it’s a day of incessant pressure from older relatives to start having kids.

“When am I gonna get to say happy Father’s Day to you?” all the women ask.

My wife and I are still a few years off. We’re getting a puppy next week. If the puppy survives, maybe we’ll start thinking about children. So far we’ve had no luck with plants.

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