Ask and you shall receive.
That’s how The Shed found a second home in West Sayville. Guests of the Huntington location, which opened about two years ago, had been asking owner John Tunney to open another. West Sayville was a popular suggestion, so Tunney spent a few days there perusing the shops and restaurants and talking to the locals.
“The people, the town itself, it was really just a familiar kind of place for me when I got there,” he said.
“A lot of people like ordering things they can’t really produce at home.”John Tunney
For Tunney, it’s always been about the people at his restaurants, which also includes Besito, the Mexican restaurant with Long Island locations in Roslyn, West Islip and Huntington. He’s a self-proclaimed observation nut, something he called a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, he’s not kidding when he says he notices a crooked photo. On the other, it helps him anticipate a customer’s needs.
“I see people responding to things,” he said.
The Shed has a welcoming feel from the moment guests walk into the restaurant and meet the hosts. Set inside a refurbished mansion, it’s stylish without being snobby. The white-brick interior has a slightly worn look. The blue-trimmed napkins and tablecloths are also white, and colorful artwork hangs (perfectly aligned) on the walls. But the staff doesn’t rest on appearances. Tunney, a father of two, remembers being treated like a second-class diner when he brought his sons out to eat. At his restaurants, families with small children get an instant high chair and rapid snack. The staff is warm, ready to refill guests’ coffee or water cups before they notice they’re getting low.
“Everyone has something they need or want. We try to capture that for people every day,” he said. “That’s the job, not just serving food. It’s giving people what they want before they ask for it.”
Tunney’s children helped inspire him to open The Shed in Huntington.
“They love pancakes, cheeseburgers and grilled cheeses,” he said. “That discovery and my understanding of what the market was doing, which is heading towards the breakfast/lunch market and becoming a much different market than it was a few years ago, [made way] for The Shed.”
The West Sayville restaurant seats 96 indoors — more than in Huntington — which allows for shorter wait times during cooler months. Even with the parking lot full on a Saturday morning, there was a table for two available (The Shed does not take reservations). The menus are the same, and poached eggs remain a favorite.
“A lot of people like ordering things they can’t really produce at home,” Tunney said. “That makes it a tickle-the-senses experience. It’s special.”
The farmer’s breakfast (grilled filet mignon tips, two eggs any style, home fries and greens) is hearty and can easily take a diner from brunch to dinner. Lighter fare includes the green scramble (broccoli, spinach, zucchini, scallion, kale pesto, Gouda and dressed greens). The Shed is experimenting with specials, like red velvet pancakes.
And Tunney is mulling expansion. He said two more locations are in the works, potentially for this year, but is mum on where they are as he works to finalize the real estate.
“There are definitely a few more coming and soon,” he said. “There are a lot of people who would like a Shed in their neighborhood. We get so much fan mail.”