Heidi Kelso, a TV producer from Manhattan, opened her boutique Lido as a side business in Greenport in 2012.
Selling a mix of resort wear, jewelry and home furnishings, Kelso, a first-time retailer, kept the store open during the tourist season for the past three years. But the shop has done so well that in May, she moved across the street to 132 Main Street, a larger, 1,500-square-foot space once occupied by the kitchen accessories shop Cookery Dock.
“I live in the West Village,” Kelso said. “I can’t afford to experiment there.”
Lido isn’t the only business that’s benefiting from the influx of visitors who appreciate the vibe of the seaport village on the North Fork of Long Island, located close to local wineries. A number of retail spots and restaurants are moving in or expanding.
Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., which began serving craft beer in 2009 in the old Carpenter Street firehouse, expanded from that space to a second, much larger location last July. Brix & Rye, a year-round bar, opened last summer, followed by an adjoining restaurant called 1943 Pizza Bar. Meanwhile, Lucharitos, a popular Mexican restaurant and bar known for fish tacos, has just completed a $150,000 expansion, going from 800 square feet to 2,000 square feet.
“We’ve been really busy — two-hour waits on weekends, serving up to 700 people a day,” said Marc LaMaina, owner of Lucharitos.
In fact, some in town are starting to compare Greenport’s retail scene to that of New York City’s hippest borough. Though the trendy clothing shop Calypso has been an anchor in town since 2007, most of the stores are independent boutiques.
“It’s a sleepy little town starting to hit its stride, “ said Sheri Winter Clarry, who works for Corcoran Group out of the Southold office. “It is a lot like Brooklyn.”
It’s not clear what effect the Brooklynification is having on commercial real estate. There is no widely available data on commercial rent pricing as the town is so small, and many deals still take place between building owners and renters, neither of which was willing to disclose prices. “Everything gets negotiated,” Clarry said.
Residential prices for single-family homes were up slightly in the second half of 2014, averaging $440,885, compared to $439,853 during the same period in 2013, according to data from Brown Harris Stevens.
The town’s growing cache is helping spur the success of local businesses. This year Greenport is hosting the high-profile Tall Ships Challenge 2015 from July 4 to 7. Because of that, Robby and Shannon Beaver, owners of The Frisky Oyster, are expanding the hours of their restaurant. Beaver purchased the restaurant from the previous owners with his wife in 2010 and worked there prior to that, drawn by the community’s ambiance.
“What drove me to Greenport was a very nostalgic feel that it has,” Beaver said. “It’s not dressed up like the Hamptons. It doesn’t have a J. Crew or a Pottery Barn on every corner, like Southampton has. It’s very small businesses, mom-and-pop kind of places.”