The smell of fried chicken filled the air during Spicy’s BBQ grand reopening Thursday as dozens lined up for the meal they’ve been missing since the landmark West Main Street restaurant suddenly closed April 24.
“I came all the way from Shelter Island to get a 10-piece wing,” laughed Keith Clark, who was driving through Riverhead when he learned of the reopening. “I shot right over here when I found out.”
For the past two weeks, bright orange “seized” signs were posted in the windows of both the restaurant’s Riverhead and Bellport locations. Property owner Dee Muma told the News-Review when the news first broke that she spoke with business co-owner Rick Stoner, who said he’s working out a repayment plan with the state for three outstanding warrants for non-payment of taxes that would allow him to continue to operate both businesses.
“It is great to be back,” said Mr. Stoner’s daughter, Josie, from behind the counter where she was serving customers. “It has been busy! The community has been so supportive. They are welcoming us back.”
The doors opened at 11 a.m., and by 11:30, the vintage dining car was packed. Loyal customers crammed in for the crave-worthy food — diets be damned. One hungry patron declined to provide her name, saying she feared her Weight Watchers group would catch her.
“It is worth it,” she said.
Tim Mason of Westhampton said he wanted to get in as early as possible to beat the crowds.
“I am their best customer,” he said. “When I heard they were reopening, I figured I should get here fast because the line would be out the door.”
Riverhead residents Lisa Harney and nephew Brandon Bess had the same idea.
“We wanted to be the first ones down here,” said Ms. Harney, who has been eating at the restaurant for a decade. “I have known Josie forever. They are the best people and I am glad to see their family business back in our community.”
Spicy’s announced on social media Wednesday evening the Bellport location would not reopen.
Photo caption: James Harris mans the frier during Spicy’s reopening on Thursday. (Cyndi Murray photo)