The story of how the restaurant Windamere came to be goes back much further than just over a month ago when they opened in the former location of Pace’s Dockside at Strong’s Waterclub and Marina in Mattituck. Long before any pool or boat services were there, a private home was on the property that eventually became a guest house. There, in the late 1800s to early 1900s, parties and events were held while live pianos and singers entertained.
The home, which was called the Windamere, is long gone, and in its place is a full club and marina run by Strong’s since 2013. But when the opportunity came up to take over the restaurant on site, previously leased out to Pace’s Dockside, the team behind Strong’s thought their hospitality expertise could be transferred to the restaurant business. And they wanted to infuse the new restaurant with the history they now know about the Windamere guest house.
“That’s the root of Windamere,” Kelsey Cheslock, marketing manager for Strong’s Marine, said. “It was this rich history about entertainment and just engaging people in that hospitality. I think that really is the core of why we want to get into this business.” This is the first true restaurant Strong’s Marine has opened at any of its seven locations, and a lot of thought went into blending the history of Windamere and a modern waterside restaurant.
A piano sits inside the dining room to call back to the days of full bands and a dance hall and a once-popular drink is on the menu — the Windamere Sour. This cocktail originated in Chicago, made its way to New York and in the 1890s, as guests from the city arrived, they brought the drink with them.
“It’s pretty cool that the name and history of the Windamere [guest house] aligns with the fun, the quality, the utilization and the experience for people [at the restaurant],” said Jeff Strong, president of Strong’s Marine.
Transitioning the space from Pace’s Dockside to Windamere was natural. The location of the restaurant on the property is nestled between the pool, lawn and docks.
“It kind of felt to customers like it was already a part of Strong’s,” Jeff Strong said. “We are able to integrate and take advantage of the entire property.”
That means having a lawn menu special for those enjoying the Adirondack chairs or picnic tables further from the restaurant, being able to serve people enjoying the pool and eventually offering dockside delivery to boats.
For now, the early fall menu is full of seasonal transitional dishes. The sweet chili Long Island duck wings are crazy crispy and have an autumn warmth to them. The mussels Fra Diavolo are fresh and spicy. The lobster roll sliders come with plenty of chunky lobster pieces and the seasonal soup, butternut squash soup, is warm, smooth and delicious.
Windamere will be open year round and the patio is heated. Currently, their hours are Thursday, Sunday and Monday 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. 2255 Wickham Ave., Mattituck, 631-315-5252.