A family-owned business in Greenport for more than four decades, Bruce & Son reopened March 10 after six weeks of renovations.
“I think we tried to maintain the coziness and the charm of the place but updating it, changing it, simplifying it,” co-owner Scott Bollman said.
Mr. Bollman has been a chef and partner in the restaurant, previously known as The Cheese Emporium by Bruce & Son, for seven years. Last September, he and his wife, Kassata, purchased the business from his father, Bruce Bollman. They decided to undertake renovations to give the spot a better feel as a restaurant setting, making it less crowded and more suited to their vision of an all-day brunch spot.
“It feels like home now,” Ms. Bollman said.
The couple decided they’d no longer sell cheeses and would eliminate most retail items to focus on food, rebranding the restaurant as simply Bruce & Son, which is now in its 43rd season.
Ms. Bollman said their main goal for the redesign was to keep it simple, clean and rustic while preserving the authenticity of the original restaurant. She and her husband were hands-on during renovations, even painting the ceiling themselves, they said.
“It’s just taking the historic aspect and preserving that and honoring that and also putting a little bit of a modern twist on it,” Ms. Bollman said.
They retained a lot of the old framed photographs that hang on the walls above the tables. While redoing the floor, the couple found old light wells underneath and decided to display them in the back of the restaurant.
The theme of “keeping it simple” during remodeling of the dining area came from the couple’s passion for using simple, local ingredients in the dishes. Ms. Bollman said they got rid of a lot of the sodas and processed beverages the restaurant previously offered and put a focus on house-made drinks like fresh lemonade and local beverages like coffee from North Fork Roasting Company.
Mr. Bollman said he likes to keep the menu fresh, changing it up at least four times a year. Menu items currently include dishes like savory oats, avocado toast and different types of lunch sandwiches.
“I was born and raised here so I’ve been inspired by this place my whole life,” Mr. Bollman said, stressing how important it is for him to make connections with the North Fork farms and vendors and eliminate as many outside products as possible.
“I’m excited for the people’s response when they come in to see the food and the atmosphere come together like that,” Mr. Bollman said.
Former owner Bruce Bollman has been in Florida and saw photos of the renovations.
“It needed their new ideas,” he said. “It needed new blood and they’re doing a great job.”
Longtime customer Peter Stoutenburgh of Mattituck said he likes how the restaurant attracts a local crowd.
“It’s part of the community,” he said as he finished his breakfast Friday morning.
The restaurant has hosted PawPaw pop-up dinners with chef Taylor Knapp for three seasons. The couple said another of their goals for the space is to be a platform for more visiting chefs to come and do pop-ups.
“It’s kind of a dream for us to be a platform to offer something different, something that nobody is doing here on the East End,” Mr. Bollman said.
The couple agreed they are fortunate to have kept a family business in Greenport for over four decades.
“It’s very special here in Greenport,” Ms. Bollman said. “It’s the community, it’s the business, the location, there’s so much to be grateful for. We’re working really hard to carry that tradition.”