Step inside the Green Earth Natural Food Market in downtown Riverhead and you’ll see what at first looks like a subtle change. In the back of the store, where the Organic Cafe and Juice Bar was previously located, a pair of natural-wood french doors now leads into a small, 40-seat café and lounge with soft lighting, comfy couches and music that ranges from Motown and jazz to reggae and Brazilian samba.
Welcome to JC’s Cafe and Lounge.
London-born and educated in Jamaica, executive chef Calvin Kerr, 58, has 42 years of experience cooking and running kitchens, including two years at Gurney’s Inn in Montauk, where he created “spa food.”
Working with his longtime friend James Hall, 40, and partner LaMarr Wooten, 30, he came up with the concept of a European style café that offers “eclectic and full-flavored and well-seasoned food,” Mr. Kerr said.
Mr. Hall chose the french doors because he thought it would give the place an air of elegance.
“It’s all about relaxing,” he said. “We keep it sexy and elegant, Calvin in the kitchen and me in the dining room.”
The café is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for breakfast and lunch. Then it reopens at 7 p.m. for a “reservations only” dinner service until 2 a.m.
There are theme nights: Wednesday is “Soul in a Bowl” — pay $10 for your seat and enjoy traditional soul food (beverage not included); Thursday is “Throwback Music of Motown,” with food of that era; Caribbean Saturday offers jerk and curry chicken, rice and peas, salads and escabeche of tilapia.
The partners are in the process of getting a beer and wine license, so for now it is BYOB, with no corkage fee.
Green Earth Natural Food Market owner Steve Siegelwaks, who has been in business for 34 years, said that it was difficult keeping the organic café and juice bar going.
“In the midst of all the eateries on Route 58 it was difficult competing with them in price. We decided that we needed a new concept. The late-night lounge is fun and organic in its own right,” he said.
“This is a great time to come to Riverhead. The revitalization is happening and we want to be part of it,” said Mr. Kerr.