East Main Street in Riverhead reminds restaurateur John Peragine of how downtown Patchogue looked around a decade ago.
“It has the same kind of feel to it,” he said.
That’s why Mr. Peragine, who co-owns PeraBell Food Bar in Patchogue with business partner Scotti Campbell, said he jumped at the chance to open a second location in downtown Riverhead at the site of the former Cody’s BBQ, which closed in May. He and Mr. Campbell hope to open their new eatery by March.
“Riverhead, in my opinion, is going to be the next Patchogue,” said Mr. Peragine, who lives in Medford and opened PeraBell Food Bar on East Main Street in Patchogue in 2006. He said that he and Mr. Campbell closed on a deal to purchase the building that formerly housed Cody’s BBQ on Wednesday.
“Riverhead is just a couple years from growing into something awesome,” Mr. Peragine said.
When it opens, PeraBell Food Bar in Riverhead will feature the same menu items Patchogue customers love, like its inventive appetizers (tuna tartar pizza; peanut butter sliders) and wide variety of entrees, most of which cost $20 or less, he said.
The menu will also incorporate seasonal East End produce and seafood wherever possible, and North Fork wines and craft beers will be available, too, Mr. Peragine said.
“The menu will have a little more emphasis on East End stuff,” he said.
Mr. Peragine said he plans to remove the long, covered hallway that currently leads into the former Cody’s BBQ’s main entrance and instead use the space for additional seating. He’s also thinking of building accordion doors on the restaurant’s main entrance and adding sidewalk café seating — something PeraBell Food Bar in Patchogue already has.
“I wish them luck,” Vic Prusinowski, the former co-owner of Cody’s BBQ, said of the plans Saturday morning. “It’s a great location and I think they’ll be tremendously successful.”
Ray Pickersgill, president of the Business Improvement District Management Association, said the restaurant will be a “welcome addition to Main Street.”
Mr. Peragine acknowledges that opening a restaurant in downtown Riverhead is something he views as “a challenge.” But he’s more than ready to tackle any hardships that may come his way.
For instance, he said, people have told him that winters on the East End can be bad for business. But he isn’t that worried.
“To me, Main Street in downtown Riverhead looks like a year-round place,” he said. “I’m hoping to tap into that and be a neighborhood restaurant.
“It keeps you on your toes,” he continued of the process of opening a new restaurant. “It keeps you focused — to be creative and get people in the door. And that’s what restaurants are all about. It’s trying to find something everybody will like.”