There’s a new face behind the counter at Country Corner Café in Southold.
Martin Lynch of Southold, who has frequented the restaurant for years with his wife and three daughters, became the establishment’s new owner last week.
“I was looking for something out here for about seven or eight years, but none of them really made sense,” Mr. Lynch said, adding that many of the businesses he considered owning, such as an ice cream parlor, were seasonal. “Finally, this just made sense.”
It’s a little surprising, even to Mr. Lynch, that the café is what spoke to him — especially since he spent the last decade doing information technology for the Riverhead Town Police Department.
“It’s about 180 degrees in the opposite direction,” he said with a laugh. “But I’ll take the opportunity to try my hand at anything.”
This mentality has carried Mr. Lynch through all his previous jobs. Born in Ireland, he spent a few years working in hotels and studying hospitality. He also worked as a fisherman, like his father, and as a salmon farmer before coming to the United States in his 20s.
Only intending to stay for the summer, Mr. Lynch lived in Southampton with his uncle and worked in construction for a few months. But once he returned to Ireland that September, he abandoned his original plan and sold all his belongings. He moved to the U.S. permanently in October 1995.
Mr. Lynch then spent a few years as a truck driver before he began working at the police department, which led to his newest venture.
For now, he said he doesn’t plan to change much about the longtime Main Road café. Instead, he plans to learn all aspects of the business, from ringing up different egg orders and balancing the books to hiring more bussers and waitstaff.
“I’m doing a little bit of everything. I’m not really sticking to one thing,” he said. “If a table needs to be bussed, I’ll do it. If I expect someone else to do it, I can do it, too. I want to lead by example.”
The cafe’s previous owner, Kelly Huntstein, said in April she was selling the restaurant to spend more time with her family. Country Corner Café opened in 1997 and operated under a different name between late 2010 and 2013.
Mr. Lynch said he looks forward to getting to know all of his customers — from the regulars who stop in for breakfast each morning to those who can only dine there once or twice a year.
“It’s an anchor business in this town,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity and a privilege. I look forward to serving people as they come in.”