Tucked away in the back of Stirling Square in Greenport, a restaurant has been reborn: new fixtures, new paint and wallpaper, new staff wearing blue gingham and khaki and a new menu featuring fresh fish and a raw bar. The result is the North Fork Oyster Company.
“I’ve put my heart and soul into this,” says Farouk Ahmad, the restaurant and the square’s owner, which he bought in 2006.
The move into Greenport was serendipitous. One day 12 years ago, Ahmad and his wife, Sana, heading from Shelter Island to the South Fork, mistakenly took the North Ferry and ended up on Front Street. These were the days before Mitchell Park was rehabilitated, and empty storefronts lined both the village’s anchor streets.
“We turned around and went back home,” he says. But soon the couple returned to the North Fork and bought a home in East Marion. Ahmad had retired from a career that had taken him all over the world and into a few of its best restaurants. Now he wanted to start his own business.
The restaurant opened in April, and so far the reaction has been good, says Ahmad.
At the end of May, he opened a coffee, ice cream and pastry shop next door, called the Sweet Spot.
Naturally, the restaurant’s executive chef, Richard Lanza, who spent last summer at the Farmhouse in Greenport, is featuring indigenous ingredients, and local vino dominates the wine list. A rotating selection of oysters, from local waters and beyond, is featured at the raw bar. At the Sweet Spot, Suffolk County Community College culinary graduate Lijo Chacko is making the pastries and gelato.
The restaurant has 140 seats including outdoor tables and the bar.
As excited as he is to provide excellent food and service for his customers, Ahmad expects to be spending more than a few evenings himself at one of his own tables.
“I like to eat,” he says.