Our new series invites you to the homes and neighborhoods of notable North Forkers. This week, David and Donna Perrin, owners of Cedar House on Sound B&B, talk about how they turned a vintage barn into their home and business in Mattituck.
DONNA Dave and I have been hospitality people since before college, and met in Miami Beach, attending Florida International University studying hospitality management. We spent a long time in the hospitality industry and wine distribution industry in Miami and Orlando, but yet always talked about, ‘What do we want to do long term? What would be our real dream?’ And it was to open a B&B and own our own business. I grew up in Queens — where getting away meant traveling into Manhattan — so I had never heard of the North Fork. But a cousin was here and told me: Come see, come see. So I came, and a week later we had our house on the market. Being in Orlando, a Mecca of the world — it served its purpose, but I was ready to take a breather.
DAVID I grew up upstate, in a rural farm area. Of course, when you grow up in such an area — just as my children are currently — you long to get out and go into a metro area. And so you do, and you enjoy it, and then you get tired of it. And then you go from living in a metro to like pseudo-suburbia to total suburbia, to even suburbia doesn’t cut it. It’s so funny how everything is cyclical. And we say to our children all the time, ‘Someday you’ll thank us for growing up with a vineyard in your backyard.’
And we say to our children all the time, ‘Someday you’ll thank us for growing up with a vineyard in your backyard.’
DONNA What attracted us initially was the fact that this was a farm community by the water surrounded by vineyards. The fresh food, the wine community — it brought everything we love together. We decided to move here in January 2010 and we opened Cedar House on Sound that June. We said, OK, we’re going to drive fast, take a chance and just go for it.
DAVID If you saw it before it was bought, you would’ve thought we were nuts! It was a dilapidated barn. Donna’s cousin had bought it with the vision of making it a three-family home, but he didn’t quite realize that zoning wouldn’t permit a three-family home. It had dirt floors, no walls, no plumbing, no electric. Now the footprint of the structure is the same, and some of the framing, but that’s it. The baseboards and all of the trim are reclaimed wood from the original cedar in the old barn roof. Where we have the two vineyard-view rooms and the lounges was actually a garage.
DONNA So it took a little bit of vision. I always laugh that if you could take the mirror behind the bar off and you get the paint off the wall, you would see my pencil sketches in the sheet rock. We would meet every morning at seven o’clock with the carpenter for coffee. It was a lot of fun, but it was nerve wracking.
DAVID Oh, there were so many moments that were just like, What have we done? Like, we really felt like Tom Hanks and Shelley Long in “The Money Pit.”
DONNA We had a young child, just one-year-old at the time, we’re trying to get this place open and I’m working full time for a wine distributor. It felt like “The Shining” that winter because the house was so empty. Every day I was crying on the phone, Why are we here? I don’t know anyone.
DAVID I literally went door to door to every B&B and winery in Mattituck and said hello and introduced myself. We became very close with the merchants on Love Lane; it’s a gift that everyone wants to experience. Having Strong’s marina right here is another huge asset to Mattituck — this is the only community on the North fork that can host boats from the Sound, and several of our guests have come in by boat from Connecticut. I’m currently the president of the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce, and working with this community has been a gift. It’s been a very difficult three months for, I think a lot of us, especially in this industry. And I’ve watched so many people step up and kind of take care of the room. Wendy from Wendy’s Deli has been feeding the frontline workers. The school district has been tremendous with distance learning. It makes me proud to live here.
DONNA It has been so hard. And it’s been really great to watch everyone acknowledge that with each other. We use the barter system: I was giving people gloves and toilet paper and they were giving us eggs from their chickens or Long Island wine.
DAVID I spent countless hours talking to the town and trying to help roll into these new phases. And so then that translates into me spending countless hours, talking to various small businesses about best practices, trying to answer questions. I laugh that never in my life I’ve been so busy, yet I’m generating no revenue. When I wear my mask, I make it a point to talk to anyone within 10 feet of me just to remind everybody, we are in this together and can’t all just become zombies. We have to keep each other encouraged with the global unrest and you know, our country being in the state that it’s in now just to have that human connection.
We have jumped in with both feet. We have devoted so many hours to community service and trying to help, you know, make this our home and still maintain the agricultural integrity of what it always has been celebrated. That piece of it, that’s what we’re all here. There is no division of the business community and the residential community, because we are also the residents. We want all these little businesses to survive because if they don’t, then we’re going to run into a real problem where big business will come in, buy it up and we will lose the charm that has been what has drawn everyone here in the first place. None of us bought a house out here because it looked like the rest of Long Island. And we’ve actually lost four or five long-time guests because they wanted to find homes here.
DONNA We said, OK, seriously, we have to dial back cheerleading of the North Fork!
DAVID The beauty of that is they’ve kept in touch. We see them at a local restaurant or at First Fridays. So, they continue to be cheerleaders for us.