Sitting in the back at the Riverhead Diner and Grill, it’s sometimes difficult to hear Sunny Liszanckie and her husband, Jim, over the sound of a buzzing mechanical saw.
The couple is hard at work overhauling the longtime East Main Street eatery they purchased Jan. 13. Frequenters of the establishment need not worry, though.
The Liszanckies say they aren’t making any major changes. Rather, they’re “freshening up” the property, making sure to preserve the history of the popular eatery.
“We love the charm of it,” Ms. Liszanckie said of the business, which was founded in 1932. “It’s been around for so long we want to keep it mostly the same, keep the charm of the place.”
The couple plans to update the menu, adding more salad, sandwich and fresh, local vegetable options while retaining the staples customers love and keeping prices affordable, Mr. Liszanckie, 42, said. Other additions will include offering local wines and a small beer selection.
The Liszanckies will also continue some of the specials their predecessor, Liz Strebel, offered, including two-for-one burgers on Wednesdays. Black-and-white photographs of the diner and other Riverhead businesses in years past, left behind by Ms. Strebel, will remain on the walls.
“It’s important to listen to what the customers tell you,” Mr. Liszanckie said. “And what they don’t want will come off [the menu]. When we go into the summer months we want our real menu.”
The diner’s schedule will also change to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Hours will be shorter at the outset, focusing mostly on breakfast and lunch service, but once the staff is comfortable with the new system hours will expand to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Ms. Liszanckie, 36, said she and her husband are keeping the entire waitstaff and will hire new kitchen staff to work on the new menu and equipment, which includes a grill and sandwich makers.
Mr. Liszanckie, a former Greenport resident with over 20 years’ experience as a cook, will head the kitchen staff and update the menus. He also spent seven years working at Dairyland Purveyors before purchasing the Riverhead Diner and Grill.
“I enjoyed it,” he said of his former job. “I wasn’t looking for this opportunity, but we love Riverhead.”
The Liszanckies, who live in Riverhead, stumbled upon the opportunity after Ms. Liszanckie saw a Facebook post from Ms. Strebel looking for someone to purchase the business. A former consultant for private aviation companies at MacArthur Airport, she became a stay-at-home mom after the birth of the couple’s 17-month-old son, J.J. She will now take over scheduling and managing the staff.
The couple said they felt this was the right time to purchase because it gives them an opportunity to be part of a “growing Riverhead.”
“We’re family-friendly and community-minded,” Ms. Liszanckie said. “That’s what we like. We’re big on family.”
They plan to open the restaurant under its new name, Sunny’s Diner and Grill, in early February.