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This sign from the General Wayne inn hangs at Brix and Rye. (Credit: Caroline Rochetta, courtesy)

A company can go out of business, but that doesn’t mean it disappears completely.

Whether it’s an old sign, a photographic advertisement or even a vintage burlap sack, remnants of extinct businesses are everywhere on the North Fork — and many are currently in use as decorations at local restaurants.

Some artifacts, like the General Wayne Inn sign that now hangs on a wall at Brix & Rye in Greenport, are conspicuous. Others, like the wood from a former bowling alley that was used to construct the bar at Dark Horse Restaurant in Riverhead, are much more subtle.

Read on to learn the stories behind four local examples we recently came across recently.

Brix & Rye

Brix & Rye co-owner and mixologist Evan Bucholz says hardly a night goes by when a patron doesn’t ask him about the sign from the former General Wayne Inn that covers a good portion of the north wall at his popular Greenport bar.

His business partner, Matt Michel, said the sign was a gift from a friend. The bar owners thought it would be a nice piece of local history to decorate their basement establishment, where they serve up old-fashioned cocktails.

“It really is just a perfect fit with the vibe we’re going for,” Michel said.

The General Wayne Inn was torn down early last year after decades of neglect. The former resort stood in Southold for more than 225 years.

Bucholz said most of the feedback he receives about the sign comes from customers who once worked at the General Wayne, had drinks there or, in some cases, were married there.

“The locals feel a real connection to the General Wayne Inn,” Bucholz said. “It’s a little piece of history that probably wouldn’t be anywhere right now. We’re lucky to have it.”


The bar in the Dark Horse restaurant. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)
The bar in the Dark Horse restaurant. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Dark Horse

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

That old phrase still holds significant meaning for Dark Horse restaurant owner Dee Muma.

In creating her downtown Riverhead eatery, Muma  put to use many pieces of local history that once graced the halls — and floors — of nearby buildings.

The bar at Dark Horse’s Peconic Room is made from the wood flooring taken from the old Club 91, which had previously been a bowling alley. Old stained glass and signs from Club 91 were rehabbed and now hang in the restaurant’s rear. And other pieces of the former bowling alley were converted into smaller tables where Dark Horse patrons now sit.

Pointing to the reuse of materials, Muma said that “as a citizen of this planet, we all need to do this all the time.”

“We need to be resourceful and careful with what we have and reuse everything as often as we can so that we don’t have what’s going on now — a culture of excess, where we end up with more stuff in the dump than we know what to do with.”


Credit: Paul Squire
Credit: Paul Squire

Founder’s Tavern

Among the many historic photos from Southold Town’s history that hang on the walls of Founder’s Tavern in Southold is this picture, originally taken as an advertisement for the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company during the final days of Prohibition.

The photo — which came from Mike Richter’s historical collection in Greenport — features a group of local men in front of Claudio’s restaurant in 1933 toasting with glasses of beer, just weeks after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an amendment allowing beer to be produced. Prohibition had been in effect since 1919 and was repealed the same year this photo was taken.

Richter said many of the men in the photo remain unidentified.

Claudio’s itself survived Prohibition in the 1920s as an illegal speakeasy. During the height of Prohibition, bootleggers would sneak illicit goods into the restaurant using a trapdoor hidden under the dock. The liquor would then be shipped farther west.


Credit: Rachel Young
Credit: Rachel Young

Tweed’s Restaurant & Buffalo Bar

Dining at Tweeds Restaurant & Buffalo Bar in downtown Riverhead is like “being in a museum.”

So says owner Ed Tuccio, who has adorned his Main Street establishment’s walls with an array of North Fork artifacts.

Among them is a framed piece of burlap featuring the words “William L. Evans Peconic Bay Oysters.”

It’s unclear what year the burlap dates to and an online search of historic newspapers yielded no mentions of Evans’ oyster company. Tuccio said he purchased the item “years ago” from former Greenport Mayor David Kapell’s antique shop and that the burlap was found underneath some floorboards in Greenport.

According to Tuccio, oysters were once shipped inside barrels with a piece of burlap on top.

“We feature all the Long Island oysters [at Tweeds],” said Tuccio, who added that he also owns some cans from the Shelter Island Oyster Company. “What better artifact to have than the original tops of these barrels?”


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