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Photography by David Benthal

The Orient Country Store is a neighborhood hangout for Orient locals, so owners Miriam Foster and Grayson Murphy are definitely in the know about what’s happening on the North Fork. They have lots of favorite things to share — even if a couple are on the DL. 

When Miriam Foster and Grayson Murphy bought the Orient Country Store in 2011, they had no idea it would be the center of everything in Orient. It’s the place to pick up groceries and snag Miriam’s fresh-baked blueberry muffins, or order Grayson’s renowned Reuben sandwich for lunch and also catch up on the local goings-on in town. 

“The Country Store is a hub in the community,” says Grayson. “When something happens in town, people talk about it here.” 

The couple has found that running the general store in a small town is much more than a business. 

“People let us be part of their lives. I’ve met some of my best friends working at the store,” says Miriam. “I don’t think there are many places like this left in the world. The other day, I brought an older gentleman his Reuben while he was sitting at a table on the front porch. He told me that he half expected to see Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney walking down the street because it looks like a movie set. Orient village really is a special place.” 


FAVORITE WALKING PATH Tucked away at Orient Point, just across the street from the marina, is a beautiful trail and fishing spot. This is Orient Point County Park and it is a hidden gem. The path has gorgeous views of Long Island Sound, and ends at a rocky point where the bay and the Sound meet. 

GRAYSON’S FAVORITE FISHING CHARTER I do a lot of fishing and often book a spot on the boat Brooklyn Girl Fishing , which is anchored at the Orient Point marina (40200 Main Road). You can book a private charter or reserve on what’s called “open boat,” and then jump on when there’s availability. They also do evening trips, which are really nice. The captain, Ken Holmes, and the mates Chris and Marco are incredible, and always know where the fish are biting. 

GRAYSON’S FAVORITE FISHING STORE WeGo Fishing Bait & Tackle (64355 Main Road, Southold) is a pretty salty place, and Steve Stanza, the owner, is the barometer for what’s going on in the NOFO fishing scene. The shop is packed to gills, no pun intended, with lures, bait and basically everything you could possibly need to catch fish. Steve even has mini Snapper Reels for kids to catch little bluefish. Our 3-year-old girls are almost old enough for these. 

FAVORITE SEAFOOD Next door to Steve’s is Southold Fish Market (64755 Route 25), where they have an awesome lobster roll. You can’t 

go wrong with anything you get here. The seafood is so fresh and the owner, Charlie Manwaring, grew up on the North Fork and knows his stuff. We know a lot of the fishermen and oyster farmers who sell their catch there. Plus, our girls love their fish & chips.

FAVORITE SECRET BEACHES We love to take our girls to various back bay beaches in Orient, although we’re sworn to secrecy about our most favorite spots. The bay side is warmer in the spring and early summer, while the Sound beaches are cooler in the heat of August. All the hamlets in the North Fork have these little inlet beaches, and if you look, you’ll find one at the end of almost every street. When summer people come to the store and ask where to find a nice beach, we can point in every single direction and say, “That way!”

FAVORITE NATURE TRAIL The winding, flat path in the Arshamomaque Preserve (63445 Main Road, Southold) will lead you to the Arshamomaque Pond and — if you look carefully — to a treehouse in the woods that our girls have decided they want to live in permanently. We had to get lost a few times before we found it. There are lots of birds around, and unfortunately a lot of ticks, too. You have to do a serious tick check after being out in nature here!

FAVORITE LOCAL BEER Before we had kids, we would go for Trivia Night on Thursdays at Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. (42155 Main Road, Peconic), which is a ton of fun. Miriam’s father is a trivia nut, so we’d bring him along and he just shone. Oh, and did we mention they also make great craft beers?! We sell the cans at the store, but it’s fun to go in and try out their special brews — and play trivia. 

MIRIAM’S FAVORITE LUNCH PLACE A girlfriend and I have lunch at Wednesday’s Table (in the Feather Hill Shopping Center in Southold). every Tuesday. Every single thing that co-owner Linh Trieu cooks is delicious. The banh mi is incredible, the seasonal salads are always great and when she has the chicken satay sandwich as a special, don’t miss it! 

FAVORITE DATE NIGHT Our go-to is Ellen’s On Front (38 Front St., in Greenport). The chef, Jennie Werts, co-owns Ellen’s with her brother Andrew. Jennie came back to the North Fork after working in lots of fancy restaurants in NYC, and her food is delicious. We almost always order her fried chicken, which you can also get at their sister spot, Drossos Snack Bar (69125 Main Road). And we’re addicted to the honey butter potato chips — oh man!