The new owners of the South Country Tavern in East Patchogue are no strangers to the restaurant industry.
Chef and co-owner Sean Blakeslee of Bellport has decades of experience in some of the finest restaurants in NYC and Long island.
And his fellow co-owners, Bill and Carla Hollander of East Patchogue, were the first owners of the Carla Marla’s ice cream shop on Bellport Lane. The couple opened the ice cream shop in 2000 and sold in 2008.
Let’s go back even further, because we think it’s cool all three owners washed dishes in their early teens.
Blakeslee’s first job was washing dishes at Steamer’s, which preceded the current Harbor Crab Co. restaurant on Patchogue River.
Carla Hollander scrubbed dishes at the former Medford Brau Haus on Route 112.
Bill dates himself by referencing his old dish-washing days at the Elk’s club at the corner of East Main Street and Route 112, where the TD Bank branch is today.
The family friends are teaming up on what’s now called SC Tavern, which over the past few months received a new septic system, a refinished parking lot and aesthetic improvements.
“It’s comfortable, it’s cozy, it speaks to this community,” said Carla.
“So many locals have been coming in, saying they can’t wait,” said Blakeslee.
Blakeslee last worked at the new NOCO (North Country Kitchen) in St. James. Prior to that, he was the executive chef for seven years at Rare 650 in Syosset, which is owned by Scotto Brothers.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, his first job was at the famed One if by Land, Two if by Sea in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. The emphasis at SC Tavern, he says, will be on what he describes as upscale tavern food.
“I’ve worked in a lot of fine- dining restaurants, but I think for this community and this location, the upscale tavern menu works best,” he said.
One example is the duck confit grilled cheese. Or consider the prime rib steak French dip on ciabatta bread with caramelized onions and two types of cheeses — complete with horseradish and black garlic dipping sauce.
They’re all especially excited about the local clams and oysters.
For Bill and Carla, they can trace the idea for opening the restaurant — SC Tavern is located at 668 South Country Road — to a stormy winter night a decade ago.
Living within walking distance of what was then the South Country Inn in the same location, the two decided to beat their cabin fever by heading down to the bar.
There they were greeted by their friend, the South Country Inn owner.
“We walked up there in a snow storm and it was empty, and we were sitting at the bar with Janet [the owner], and they owned it for 25 years, and we got to talking,” Carla said. “She said, ‘You two should buy this place. And that’s always stuck in my head for so long.”
A decade later, that’s exactly what’s happening.
SC Tavern opens to the public June 15.
Photo: Sean Blakeslee and Bill Hollander outside SC Tavern Friday. (Michael White)
if you go
SC Tavern will be open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, with a jazz brunch on Sundays. The hours will be 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, and 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with the bar staying open well past midnight if it’s busy. The brunch runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. before transitioning to dinner service. SC Tavern stops seating at 9:30 p.m. on Sundays. Click here to visit their Facebook page.
Check back at GreaterPatchogue for some interior photos.