Two retired friends and golf buddies are teaming up to bring a new fine dining experience to Port Jeff’s waterfront.
Michael Russell retired back in April after over 40 years working for several major Wall Street firms.
One day while golfing with his pal and retired restaurant professional, Joe Guerra, the two began talking.
Somewhere within that conversation, Guerra pitched the idea of opening their own restaurant.
Russell’s response was simple: “Well, why not?”
After eight months of lease negotiations, the partners have just sealed the deal for 154 West Broadway, and are just a few months away from debuting P.J. Harbour Club, an Italian restaurant they hope to open in April.
Their restaurant will be taking over the two-story building previously occupied by Due Baci and, before that, Graceful Rose.
“I think it’ll be a good complement to other restaurants” in the area, Russell said.
Russell, of East Setauket, didn’t just work on Wall Street, and this won’t be his first rodeo with a restaurant. He’s partnered or investing in other restaurants over the years.
He’s also served as a SUNY Stony Brook Board of Trustees chair.
Guerra is a longtime resident of Port Jeff with 40 years of experience in the restaurant and catering industry.
His work spans from Long Island to Europe and he received classical training at the Culinary Institute of America.
Over a hundred people will be able to fit in the new dining room and bar area, all with clear views of the harbor and Long Island Sound.
Russell says they are going for “a steakhouse with an Italian flair” and the décor will include some pieces from the previous restaurant — like two large amethysts (photos below) — as well as new wine racks, floral carpeting, light fixtures, and fresh coats of paint.
Historic photos of the harbor will be placed throughout the restaurant, courtesy of Port Jefferson historian Chris Ryon.
There is a deck outside and Russell said the partners are just waiting for the okay from the village for them to allow outdoor dining.
Besides steak and pasta, an extensive menu will consist of traditional Italian dishes, along with steaks, seafood, tapas, and more — with many ingredients sourced from local farmers.
“There is nothing that you won’t be able to order,” Russell said.
P.J. Harbour Club is also partnering with The Shipyard at Port Jeff Harbor, the new apartments across the way, to set up private events and tastings for Shipyard residents.
Russell has already received hundreds of emails from locals saying they’re looking forward to the new spot.
(The partners’ golf friends are also anticipating the grand opening.)
“I wouldn’t have even considered it if it wasn’t for Joe,” Russell said. “He is such an incredible talent and we’re equal partners, so it’s great.”
More photos from Ana Borruto appear below. Continue to follow GreaterPortJeff for updates on P.J. Harbour Club and their spring opening.
Top: Coming soon sign on the outside of P.J.’s Harbor Club.