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The Work We Do: Rosetta Bulak, Modern Snack Bar

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I’m Rosetta Bulak. I’ve been here for 35 years at the Modern Snack Bar.

I waitress. I started in 1984 when I was 17. I started on the grill, then I moved to the kitchen.

In the morning, I open up the restaurant, I come in around a quarter to 10. I’m usually prepping in the kitchen for a little bit. Then, we open at 11, and I start waitressing.

I go wherever they need me, generally. If they need help on the grill or in the kitchen, I can do that.

I’m from Riverhead, I was born and raised. I have three children, all grew up in Riverhead.

Riverhead has changed, [Route] 58 has changed. [The restaurant] hasn’t changed much… A lot of people like coming back here because it is the same. 

I left [for] a couple years when I had my children, but came back or worked nights, mainly on the grill or in the kitchen. I work mainly 12-hour shifts. 

Modern Snack Bar is known for the turnips, good food, family … Like, it’s a family restaurant. Turkey dinner is a favorite, the duck, lobster salad – and the soft-shelled crabs, of course, because they’re fresh, they’re in season right now.

My favorite part of the job is working with customers. I have a lot of repeat customers that come in and sometimes my room gets full of my favorite people.

Some people have been coming here for years, we get lots of stories. You know, their mom started coming here.

I love working with my co-workers, we’re like a big family here. John and Otto are like family, they’re always here. They’re hands-on managers, so I think that’s what keeps this place going. 

My heart and soul, though, is here for some reason. I don’t know why. Do you know what I mean? … It’s a good place. It’s home- that’s what it is, it’s home. And it’s home for a lot of people. When people walk in the door, they say, “I feel at home.”

I think it feels like home because it’s an icon, No. 1. People come in and they’re like, “Oh, you’ve been here for a long time.” And we care. We care about the people. The service is good, the food is good.

“The Work We Do” is a Riverhead News Review multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork.