This is a story about a labor of love.
And, it’s a love story.
Patricia Rincon and James Mangiacapre met as friends before the pandemic, fell in love during quarantine times, and when the dust settled they found themselves owning a boutique hotel and restaurant in the charming North Fork hamlet of South Jamesport.
The inn features six guest rooms, each with a private bathroom — with The Watershed right downstairs. There’s also a stand-alone cottage with two apartment-style units just outside.
The restaurant’s art deco-style bar alone is worth the visit.
The dream is to become the premier North Fork destination for day-trippers, those taking weekend jaunts to the East End wineries, and to offer the perfect spot for very special events.
Truly, what could be more special after a rehearsal dinner than spilling over to a bar or outdoor fire pit, then spending the night in a beautiful country hotel room upstairs?
A little Long Islander warmth goes a long way, too.
“Our guests treat this place like it’s their own home,” Mangiacapre says.
“And we treat them like family.”
How it happened
Mangiacapre has worked as a bartender at several bars and restaurants across Long Island, seven days a week for much of his adult life. He always wanted to own his own spot, yet had remained on the sidelines.
Rincon had run her own business, but had a corporate job in sales and account management for an import wholesaler when the two met.
The couple would speak often about how they wanted bigger things for themselves.
In the summer of 2020, Mangiacrapre asked Rincon to join him in looking at a vacated inn and restaurant out East. He was going with a restaurant mentor who was considering partnering with Mangiacapre.
Upon entry, Rincon fell in love with the bar.
“But that bar!” Rincon said. “All that gold and brass, it had that 1920s feel but also casual. I was very impressed with the flow of the deck into the bar and into the dining room. And I didn’t even know it was an inn.”
After the owner took the trio upstairs to discover the guest rooms, she recalled, they were all thinking the same thing:
You couldn’t lease one without the other, even though that was an option.
“You couldn’t,” Rincon said. “Everything is connected.”
Mangiacapre’s friend later told the couple he thought it would be better if they took over the space without him. He also owned a restaurant and was already nervous about opening another during the pandemic.
So the couple, now engaged, mulled it over.
“I told Patty one night, I never came across an opportunity like this and I’m tired of being scared,” he said.
It was soon decided. They were going to go for it.
All it took was their lives’ savings.
“I was always worried and would back away from opportunities,” Mangiacapre said. “But maybe because I met her and maybe after COVID and everyone went through some change in their life. We were just like, let’s just do this while we still can.”
They signed the lease on Sept. 1, 2020, as the owners of Jamesport Hospitality Group and got to work.
The inn opened in November and the restaurant opened just before Christmas.
The perfect getaway
The main building that houses the inn and restaurant is situated at the corner of Front Street and South Jamesport Avenue just steps from Miamogue Point and the beach.
It was built around 1860, a time when the shoreline was dotted with inns and taverns. It also has a wraparound porch for dining — or simply enjoying a morning coffee.
Then there’s the stand-alone cottage, which has two apartment style units that are perfect for families or longer stays. Between the main building and the cottage is a back deck and courtyard with a communal fire pit.
The couple describes the look and feel of the entire campus as rustic-chic.
“As much as we encourage exploring the area, if you were coming in from a wine tour or something, you really do not have to leave this building,” Rincon said.
“Between the grounds, the bar and restaurant, everything you need is right here.”
“And there is so much atmosphere in that bar,” she added. “It gets lively on a Saturday night but after the weekend it goes back to becoming a sleepy town restaurant.”
As for the restaurant, the Watershed bills its menu as comfort food, albeit with plenty of elevated dishes. Mangiacapre highly recommends the bone-in pork chop (39).
Much of the food, beer, and wine is locally sourced as well.
“The menu has evolved so much in the last two years,” Rincon said. “It’s very different from when we started.”
“It’s also such a great town,” she said. “We have so much to offer for the locals too, because so many have just become so invested in our lives and our story. It’s been two years, and we muscled through with COVID, but this place has become very homey to us.”
Now they want everyone else to know about it.
photos by Satin Widrow
There are currently special rates available on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights for those working in the service industries, such as salon and restaurant workers. Call the hotel at 631-779-3454 for additional details and restrictions — and mention Greater Long Island.
The Watershed Kitchen and Bar also offers a 3-course $37 prix fixe every Tuesday.