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North Fork business owners and their teams are spending this holiday toasting to the customers and guests who have helped them weather the storm since 2020. And the families that also made that possible.

When we flipped the calendar to 2021, there was a collective sigh of relief. We had made it through 2020.

The new year brought hope for a return to normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted so many aspects of our personal and professional lives in 2020.

While we’ve continued on the rollercoaster a bit in 2021, North Fork business owners and residents have had to continue to adjust.

But as some North Forkers approach a Thanksgiving that will see more families come together, there’s a prevailing sense of gratitude. Why? The answers varied, but there was a common thread: You, their guests. 

Here’s what and who several North Fork professionals will be toasting to over turkey and stuffing this Thanksgiving.

Christina Oman, Co-Owner, Eastern Front Brewing Co. 

“Eastern Front Brewing Co. had a rough start, to say the least. We are thankful that our business has so far survived the storm of COVID-19. While the virus was [and] is tragic, it showed us all the things that make a life full and interesting. Meaningful conversations, making new friends, hanging tight with the ones we love, listening to live music, checking out and celebrating art, chilling with our pets, volunteering for the less fortunate, and lastly, drinking really good beer [in the taproom], to name a few. [We want to say] thank you to every person that has walked through our doors and made our lives so full.”

Jimmy Lyons, Co-Owner, North Fork Doughnut Company

“Navigating business and personal lives has been a challenge over the past few years with the pandemic, but there is still no shortage of things to be grateful for. North Fork Doughnut Co. is thankful for our incredibly resilient and accepting community, our amazing and hardworking staff and for the health of everyone we love. We like to look at the positives here, and there are so many positives all around us.” 

Savannah Kurz, General Manager, Twin Fork Beer Co.

“We’ve been super thankful for our local support this past summer and fall season. We’re thankful for all our musicians who perform here at the brewery that make our guest experience so special and look forward to continuing to provide live music on the weekends this upcoming winter season in 2022. In addition, we’re thankful for all the support we received for our Thanksgiving food drive this November. All donations went to Island Harvest to help those in need this Thanksgiving holiday. After a long year-plus of COVID, we’re happy to give back and are looking forward to doing more next year.”

Chelsea Frankel, General Manager, Rose Hill Vineyard & Inn

“This year, we’re thankful for our community who supported us as we transitioned into our Rose Hill brand, for our incredible guests for putting smiles on our faces all year-round and for our all-star team who have become family.” 

Andrea Esposito, Owner, NOFO Wellness Center

“I and all of us here at NOFO Wellness Center are thankful to our wonderful members, who have supported us throughout the entire pandemic. They joined us for our outdoor classes, Zoom classes and personal training sessions as those were made available and were safely monitored. I am thankful for my colleagues and instructors, who have worked so diligently, caring for our members and followed the increased workload during the pandemic.  I’m also thankful for the building that we are located in, as well as our landlord. We were able to expand, follow all protocols as the phases were presented and … provide the community with a place to stay healthy and fit safely and spread out during these unsure, unprecedented and challenging times. [And I am] so grateful for the guidance and love of the Lord because without Him, none of this would be possible.”

Marc LaMaina, Owner, Lucharitos

“2021 was another year of growth and learning [what works and what doesn’t] on the fly for our restaurant group. We are blessed with such a great group of leaders and team members that believe in the brand. I am blessed to have their trust and so proud of them for pushing forward when times haven’t been easy. It was also a year of loss and tragedy. Many things happened that left us questioning why. But through it all, the community comes through to support and to encourage. I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for those people that are consistent in the good that they bring to the people around them. I am thankful that I have a lot of those people around me, and I’m thankful to get to be a part of so many wonderful communities.”

Carol Szynaka, Associate Real Estate Broker, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty

“I’m grateful for time with my children, learning new things together and spending quality time talking and laughing. I’m thankful for my team at work. It has been a very demanding time for realtors and staff. Together, we rose to the occasion, and I believe we are a stronger team for it. I personally feel more connected to all of my colleagues. Over the last 18 months, there have been [fewer] distractions and a focus on the most important part of life: The people you choose to spend your time with.”

Caroline Calleja, Director of Catering, The Halyard/Soundview Greenport

“I’m thankful for the support of the local community and our guests who choose to spend their time with us at The Halyard and Sound View Greenport. In the wake of the hardships we have faced these last years, there is a refreshed appreciation for togetherness — people are craving socialization and celebration more than ever before. I am grateful to have the opportunity to help our guests curate their special events from weddings to holiday parties at our one-of-a-kind location overlooking the Sound.”

Alex Damianos, Co-Owner, Pindar Vineyards and Duck Walk Vineyards

“During this time of COVID, walking through the vineyards and observing the vines blossom from bud break to harvest gave me hope.  It made me realize that life continues and to be grateful for what we have.  I am thankful for our team’s hard work and perseverance during these difficult times. I am thankful that my Duck Walk/Pindar family remained healthy and were able to weather this pandemic without too much hardship.”

Rich Vandenburgh, Founder, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company

“We are thankful to live, work and play in an amazing part of Long Island in New York State. We are thankful for our fans, friends and patrons of the brewery. We are thankful that we have had the opportunity to pursue our passion and build upon that dream with such amazing and talented co-workers, staff and partners. We are thankful for the tremendous support, love and friendships within our community and the craft beer world. We are thankful to live in a country that provides such amazing opportunities and continues to work to improve upon the American Dream.  And most especially, we are thankful for the health, love and support of our families and our children, without which none of this would have been possible.”