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In this old photograph that hangs at the back of Claudio’s restaurant, you can see the original boat and mermaid mural above the bar. Speculation is that it may still be behind one of the mirrors. (Credit: Courtesy of Claudio’s)

Claudio’s Restaurant, a Greenport staple since 1870, was recently highlighted in a USA Today Travel article about the most historic restaurants in America.

The feature praises the restaurant’s “fresh seafood and good cheer,” and contains pictures of Claudio’s both today and in the early 1900s. In one picture, taken off the restaurant’s website, a horse-drawn carriage is seen parked outside the building.

“It was a total surprise,” Jan Claudio said of the article, noting that USA Today didn’t contact any members of the family prior to publishing the piece.

Although unexpected, she welcomed the news.

“I think USA Today is an extraordinary publication and the group of restaurants they’re putting us with is very significant,” Claudio said. “It feels really good. That list is an awesome list of restaurants.”

Built over 140 years ago, the restaurant has a rich history of sailing connections. It was created as a place for whalers to stop and refuel, served its customers alcohol during the prohibition and played a large role in “The America’s Cup” during the late 1920s. Many artifacts from this history, such as trap doors and boat masts, decorate the restaurant today.

“I love the depth of people that have come by the building,” Claudio said. “The building has a presence of good times and good food; you can feel it in this place.”

Claudio’s has been recognized for it’s rich history in the national media, previously appearing on The History Channel as part of a story about rumrunners, moonshiners and bootleggers. Claudio said such exposure has given the staff and customers something fun to talk about, as people often ask to view the historic trap door used to smuggle alcohol into the establishment.

While she is unsure as to whether or not the USA Today article will expose Claudio’s to new people, she is hoping it can serve as another enjoyable conversation piece for the restaurant.

“Greenport is real, Claudio’s is real and the events are real,” she said.