$50K grant from NYS jump-starts renovations at Jerry’s

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead Town officials presented Jerry & the Mermaid owner Jerry Dicecco (third from left) with a $50,000 check from New York State Tuesday.

The owner of Jerry & the Mermaid on East Main Street says that a $50,000 grant he recently got from the New York State Main Street program inspired him to spend about three times that amount on renovating his restaurant.

“This gave us the initial start of it, and we probably spent more than $150,000 on renovations,” owner Jerry Dicecco said as Riverhead Town Board members presented him with a ceremonial check Tuesday.

The grant was a matching grant, which means he had to spend $50,000 to get the $50,000.

Mr. Dicecco says he used the money to renovate the kitchen and the interior of his restaurant. He’s planning more renovations as well.

The town received $500,000 in grants in 2010 from the Main Street program, which was distributed among about 10 businesses, said Joe Maiorana of the town’s community development office.

The Suffolk Theatre received the largest share, about $250,000, as it was considered the “anchor” business for the grant, Mr. Maiorana said.

The state Office of Community Renewal administers the program.

“The program provides funds to carry out local projects or programs that can effectively stimulate reinvestment in properties located within mixed-use commercial districts, neighborhoods and on New York’s historic Main Streets,” a town press release states. “Since 2004, the Town of Riverhead has been awarded $900,000 in Main Street funding.”

Mr. Dicecco, whose son, Jerry Jr., now works with him as a chef, said he’s optimistic about the future of his business.

“I’ve been here 19 years,” he said. “I’ve seen the town take its turns and now it’s really moving forward.”

Mr. Dicecco said celebrities are discovering his restaurant, too, as customers like Charles Barkley, Bernie Williams and some of the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” have dined there recently.

“I am not sure if we could have completed this project without the assistance of the New York Main Street funds,” Jerry Jr. said of the grant.

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