Riverhead Rising Right Now

When we think of culture, the arts, entertainment and restaurants on the Eastern End of Long Island, we don’t always think of downtown Riverhead. But, with the help of local government, new businesses and attractions, that’s all happening.

The historic downtown of Riverhead offers great opportunity for new businesses and new hope for those that have “weathered the economic storm” so to speak. With various rejuvenation projects underway, hallmarks like the historic Suffolk Theatre and the Vail Levitt Music Hall bring lots of new folks to town. The Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center (AKA Atlantis Marine World) and the newly opened Hyatt Place also contribute renewed interest for many people who may have passed by the richness Riverhead provided in the past. The most important thing to remember is that all great things take time to become great and so the plan is to continue building the town up step by step.

With this in mind, the campaign “Think global, act local” provides yet another positive way supporters can both give back to and enhance the town. This grass roots campaign has brought attention and economic flow back by simply encouraging local shopping in Riverhead. The importance of supporting local business plays a huge role in the stimulation and prosperity of the local economy and summer events and annual traditions add to the positive exposure.

“Downtown Riverhead has begun to percolate a unique ‘district’ personality in keeping with the sort of phenomenon occurring in places like the Meatpacking District and Financial District in New York. The transformation is one of the key ingredients that Dennis McDermott deployed in taking a former Chase Bank and turning it into one of the best new places to dine on Long Island. A few doors down from the Riverhead Project, the aforementioned  Hyatt Place hotel has transformed East Main Street, not just visually, but in fact,” Janine Nebons, President of the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce said.

There is a unique restaurant district forming on Main Street with something for everyone—places like Athen’s Grill, Cody’s Barbeque, Parto’s, Dark Horse Tavern, Tweed’s, Digger O’Dell’s, Riverhead Grill, Star Confectionary and Rendezvous to name a few. A compliment to the thriving restaurant district, Suffolk Community College’s Culinary School has brought culinary students to downtown. “The eagerly anticipated opening of the Suffolk Theater later this year is sure to provide the kind of year-round activities that will still further enhance and complement the already unique bustling East End Arts Council facilities on Main Street,” Nebons shared.

Riverhead has also received a great deal of support from government officials and New York State funding efforts. In a recent article in the Suffolk Times, Riverhead’s community development agency director Chris Kemper reinforced the support of the New York Division of Housing and Community Renewal funds.

The Peconic Riverfront has also benefitted from the rejuvenation of Riverhead with the Grangebel Park Improvement Project receiving $1 million in funding, providing new bulk heading, lighting and safety improvements in the park.

New and unique businesses like the new All Star Bowling Alley and Restaurant will only add to Riverhead’s new outlook and with the downtown Main Street area gaining momentum, Riverhead has great things to come. Known to many as the Gateway to Long Island’s wine country and the Hamptons, Riverhead may be the new “it” place people will flock to in the near future.

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