Dry aged meats, fresh seafood and classic cocktails await hungry Bay Shore patrons when King’s Chophouse opens this week.
Co-owners Sean Nolan, Dave Prunier and Steven Scalesse, who have their hands in ownership of three other restaurants on the island, purchased 52 E. Main St., their newest endeavor in 2018.
Since then, they’ve been transforming the space to something they say is much-needed in the area.
“We felt like a community steakhouse or chophouse was missing in town,” Nolan said.
The team is preparing to show their concept to the public on Wednesday.
When customers walk through the door on Wednesday, they can sink their teeth into the owner’s collaboration with the Babylon Village Meat Market. “We’re dry aging all of our porter houses and rib eyes for 75 days in Babylon,” Nolan said. “What you’re doing is pulling moisture out and concentrating the flavor.”
While the months-aged meat is a unique collaboration, Nolan said the restaurant’s daily everts will be of the same vein. “Our whole thing across the board is we buy the best product available to us and try to manipulate it as little as possible,” he said. “Let the project shine.”
The four eateries the businessmen own are distinct from one another. Tullulahs is a small plate restaurant, Sayville Athletic Club a sports bar, Barito a Mexican spot and King’s a steakhouse.
However, serving steaks is no idiosyncrasy for the restaurant-running trio. “We worked the concept a little bit at Tullulah’s,” Nolan said.
“Four years ago, we started doing 40 oz rib-eyes as a ‘share’ item. It caught wind and people started showing up asking for the steak.”
Nolan said his restaurants get deliveries daily and that the chophouse uses fresh local ingredients, from herbs from the HOG Farm in Brookhaven, to scallops, stripped bass and “Sexton Island True Blue” oysters from Braun Seafood Co. and Gra-Bar Fish. “The only thing we freeze is ice cubes.”
Behind the bar, Bert Wiegand makes classic cocktails with slight twists his clients at Tullulah’s may find familiar.
Wiegand said his old fashion features a “tradition layout,” with a muddled orange and lemon peel, finished with cherry bitters, and his gibson boasts cocktail onions poached in Pinot noir “so you almost have that little juicy bite to it at the end as well.”
“If somebody walks in and wants a dealer’s choice I’ll make you something,” Wiegand said. “But for the cocktail list, I’m gonna keep it as clean as possible.”
A check-up from ‘the bicycle doctor’
Perhaps the first thing patrons will see when they walk through the King’s Chophouse’s door is the massive — and still drying — oil painting behind the bar. The portrait of the well-dressed man with a white captain’s hat and a pipe may appear out of time old, but the artist’s signature is dated this year.
The man is Dr. George King (b. 1878-1966), operator of a private hospital on Maple Avenue in Bay Shore back in the day.
“They called him ‘the Bicycle Doctor,'” Nolan said, “because literally, he rode around on his bike everywhere taking care of sailors, soldiers, people around town. He was the only game in town.”
Nolan said the owners commissioned an artist to paint Dr. King’s portrait that overlooks 40-seat steakhouse. They also worked with the Bay Shore Historical Society to acquire photographs from Long Island circa the medical practitioners time and even decide on period-appropriate wall paper.
Nolan’s next door neighbor also inspired the King’s Clubhouse’s decorum. He said his neighbor was in possession of some of Dr. King’s belongings, as their house was once the doctor’s residence. The owner said he intends to install a curio cabinet with many of his neighbor’s belongings, including tincture bottle and a sterling silver spoon.
Opening and growing
When doors open Wednesday, patrons can sit at the bar or at one of the tables the doctor overlooks. But in a couple of weeks, according to Nolan, the restaurant will have an additional 40-seats out back for outdoor dining. This expansion, Nolan explained, will be phase two of the restaurants’ opening, once the owners feel comfortable in their new establishment and can safely expand.
Phase three will see a private dining room with its own private entrance behind the main restaurant building. But for now, it is the restaurant’s office space. Prior to that, it was the WKND outpost, the landlord’s local boutique shop, according to Nolan.
He said he helped move her operation to Tulluluh’s Tiny Market, which opened last year amidst the pandemic.
Nolan was not sure when diners could expect to see when the private room will be ready for special occasions.
Gearing up for launch, Nolan, alongside Prunier, Wiegand and a couple more staff members, have been inviting their friends and family to come down, mingle, and — of course — sample some kitchen curations. Saturday night’s offerings included steak tar tar, baked clams and pork belly with pickled shallots.
Nolan, smiling and greeting incoming diners he did not yet know, likened the evening to beta testing new computer software in preparation for the big rollout. “It’s always good to have a couple of dry runs.”
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