After suffering a fire that ripped through the building two years ago, the resurrection of Whalehouse Point Restaurant and Bar in Watch Hill is underway.
Husband and wife Doug and Lee Biviano, owners of LoveFINS — the concessioner that runs the marinas, restaurants and the regular campsites at Watch Hill and Sailors Haven on Fire Island — told GreaterPatchogue demolition of the destroyed structure is complete.
“We just took the last wall of the restaurant down, we took off quite a bit of debris … we only have a little more to do,” Doug Biviano said. “We’re going to be looking at the designs soon, so we’re very excited about the future.”
Watch Hill is a national park run by the U.S. Department of Interior, Doug Biviano said, so there are a lot of boxes to check when it comes to granting approvals.
“Everybody has been asking a lot of questions and they are very excited, and definitely a lot of questions because they don’t understand how long it’s taken to just get approved for our demo,” Lee Biviano said. “Things do take a little bit of time with the seashore — and now with COVID.”
Once approved by the National Park Service and then by the National Park Review Board for the region, the couple plans on building a smaller structure than the original establishment and possibly raising the foundation by about four-and-a-half feet.
The overall aesthetic will align with that of the national seashore: elegant, simple, and sustainable, Doug Biviano said.
The couple hopes to create a building that is more functional for Watch Hill’s visitors and for those involved in its operations.
In regards to the Whalehouse food truck and beach bar tent the couple set up in 2020, Doug Biviano said those additions are here to stay and sees it as another venue option.
“Visitors love it, they love going under the tent. They love how casual it is and how they don’t have to get dressed up to go into a restaurant,” he said. “We can do a snack bar maybe on the weekends … we might use it for live music and special events. “
It all comes down to what the National Park Service will authorize, he added.
Doug Biviano said as the rebuilding process continues, he hopes to fundraise enough money to include a rooftop-type deck for the restaurant, which would give customers spectacular views of the beach dune-scape and bay sunsets.
He said with the community’s help, this rooftop deck will allow future generations to fall in love with Watch Hill.
The pandemic did put a pause on their progress, but the duo is back on track, and if all goes well, the Bivianos expect to complete the project by the summer of 2023.
“It’s been an intense couple of weeks — we’re racing with the weather and it’s dangerous working out there, but we operated safely and got it done with no injuries,” Doug Biviano said. “To know now we have this exciting future ahead for Watch Hill is just tremendously gratifying.”
Make sure to follow LoveFINS across social media at @loveFINS for future announcements and greaterpatchogue.com for updates on the new Whalehouse restaurant.
Top: The demolition of Whalehouse restaurant. Photo courtesy of loveFINS Instagram account.