The people of Bayport spoke.
And the new owners of the hamlet’s most prominent and historic little building in the business district have listened.
And Zucchini Natural Market is now open on Middle Road.
Building owners Frank Carbone and Barbara Pagliarulo of West Islip — a husband-and-wife team —spent over two years canvassing the neighborhood. The goal was to figure out what the locals wanted and needed most in the spot, which had sat vacant for years. They got an earful.
“The neighborhood wanted healthy food, and stuff they could grab close to home if they didn’t want to cook” or venture too far, Pagliarulo said.
“We involved [the community] 100 percent,” she said. “Because if you don’t know what the people want you’re going to just blindly put something there and you’re going to fail. We have this great feeling we’re going to be embraced.”
What’s in store
Zucchini Natural Market is stocked with natural and organic grocery items, frozen foods, fresh produce, ready made sandwiches, fresh fish and hot trays.
Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or on a Keto diet, you’ll be happy with the selection, the owners promise.
Then there’s the fruit smoothies and veggie drinks.
The building’s new owners said the space, which was built in the 19th century and last hosted a deli, was a mess when they acquired it.
It took a long time to fix it all up before they could market it to a would-be tenant.
But when no tenant seemed to be the right fit, they took it upon themselves to fill the space.
That’s when the canvassing started.
“And everyone has been so supportive and welcoming,” Pagliarulo said.
But this isn’t their first rodeo in a small business. Carbone, an Italian immigrant, grew up in his family’s pizzerias and Italian restaurants. In his adult life he became a master barber and owned and operated over a dozen barbershops on the island, two of which he still owns today.
Carbone eventually gravitated back to pizza, taking over Drago’s Pizza in Farmingville, a mainstay pizzeria since the 1970s.
And six years ago, they opened Bang Bang Burritos together in West Islip.
How it happened
“It was funny how we came across the location in Bayport,” Pagliarulo said. “We were actually looking for a second location for Bang Bang’s and we saw the deli space [listed online]. We went to look at it and when we asked how much the rent was, the broker said, ‘It’s not for rent, it’s for sale.’ Then we said how much?”
They really liked the price, though they could see that the building had badly deteriorated.
Still, Carbone said he had always wanted to own his own building. That, and they had fallen in love with it.
“It was just neglected; the place hadn’t been touched in years and years,” Pagliarulo said. “But it has such charm and it just adds a nice feel to the neighborhood.”
“We knew it had so much potential,” she said.
That potential is about to be realized.
Top: GLI’s Nick Esposito holds up a peanut butter smoothie from Zucchini’s Natural Market. (Nick Esposito photos)