Local bartender hopes to open North Fork’s first tattoo studio

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Henry Avila hopes to open his own tattoo shop in Greenport next year.

A local bartender is planning to open a tattoo studio in Greenport Village next year, which would make his business the only place to get inked on the North Fork.

Originally from Miami Beach, Fla., Henry Avila, 29, a bartender at First and South, a new American bistro restaurant in the village, said he believes Greenport is ready for tattoos and described the area as “up and coming.” He noted how First and South, as well as Slainte, a new skate shop on Main Street, have been successful at drawing younger people downtown.

He said he plans to call his studio “X Marks the Spot.” He believes there’s a market on the North Fork, since the closest spots to get tattooed are TopHat Tat in Rocky Point or Tattoo Lou’s in Selden.

Mr. Avila said he would have to hire licensed tattoo artists to work for him. He stressed the shop will be a “tattoo studio,” not a traditional “tattoo parlor,” which generally has a negative connotation.

“I understand the negativity toward parlors because people think they bring drunken sailors and bikers, but I think the idea of tattooing has turned more into an art form,” Mr. Avila said. “I love boutique-style tattoo shops with artwork on the walls.”

In June, Mr. Avila said he decided to rent a vacant store located next to Clawflowers to set up his studio because he believes a location tucked away off the main strip won’t affect the village’s family-friendly character.

Patty Carlos, Mr. Avila’s landlord and owner of Di Angela Leather next door, said she believes a downtown tattoo studio is a good idea.

“I wouldn’t have rented it if I didn’t think it was going to be good for the village,” Ms. Carlos said. “I’m a mother, a business owner and a resident of Greenport, too. I think it’s going to be very nice.”

Ms. Carlos said a provision in Mr. Avila’s lease states that people can’t mill around outside the store. She said that should ease concerns neighbors might have that the studio will turn into a hangout.

Mr. Avila said he doesn’t plan to open his studio until spring because he’s in the process of helping a friend launch a restaurant in Manhattan. So far, two artists that have inked Mr. Avila have signed on to work at the studio — Miki Foged, owner of Indian Creek Tattoo in Miami Beach, and John Reardon of Brooklyn-based Greenpoint Tattoo Company.

“I love pirates, maritime and fell in love with the locals,” Mr. Avila said. “I’ve met so many business owners and a lot of people have shown me so much support.”

One of those locals is Mayor David Nyce, who has signed up to be one of the first people tattooed.

“Being a fan of tattoos, yes, I’m thrilled,” said Mr. Nyce, who has three tattoos. “Personally, I believe the village has always welcomed diversity and interesting businesses … I’m impressed by the way he carries himself and I wish him a great deal of luck.”

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