By Andrew Wroblewski
Skipper’s Pub, the longstanding cornerstone of Northport Village, is looking to soon add a killer view to go alongside its menu. And while the proposal made by the pub’s owners, Paul and Marie Gallowitsch, drew critics at July 29 village zoning board meeting, the couple isn’t deterred.
In fact, as operators of the pub since 1978, they’re used to it.
“We were fighting for about 20 years to get our outside dining permit,” Marie Gallowitsch said Tuesday, after rattling off a long list of changes and renovations Skipper’s has endured over the years – some of which came with headaches, but were well worth it. Skipper’s is located at the corner of Woodbine Avenue and Main Street.
The 2009 approval of outdoor dining in Northport was one of those changes, she said, calling that the “second stage” in helping make the village more attractive to customers and more prosperous for business owners. “Stage one” was the opening of John W. Engeman Theater in 2007.
“Stage three,” she speculated, might just be rooftop dining, “…another change that could be interesting for the town.”
On July 29, the couple brought their minimum $400,000 proposal before the Northport Zoning Board of Appeals. They hope to add 109 rooftop seats, a rooftop bar and other amenities to utilize the pub’s view of Northport Harbor and Northport Village Park. The rooftop would be accessible via stairwells or via an elevator, which would be built as part of the proposal.
“The view on the roof is spectacular,” Gallowitsch said, noting that she has received positive feedback from patrons regarding the proposal. “We’re very excited. We think it will be a wonderful opportunity for us and a wonderful opportunity for the village.”
But first, the proposal has some hoops to jump through. The Northport ZBA did not make a ruling on the proposal at the July 29 meeting and instead scheduled to discuss it further at the Sept. 16 meeting at Northport Village Hall.
At the July 29 meeting, Gallowitsch said, there was some opposition to the plan, particularly related to potential noise and parking.
“I’m extremely concerned about the parking,” Kathie Kitts, owner of Northport village’s Artisan House gift shop said in a phone call Tuesday. “Parking is an issue. It always has been. We don’t need anything else that’s going to kill business for the merchants.”
Gallowitsch said that she and her husband are happy to work through any issues with the board and the public.
To ease parking concerns, the 109 rooftop seats would be partially offset by the subtraction of 12 seats indoors and the elimination of Skipper’s outdoor street-level dining along Woodbine Avenue. Gallowitsch said next-door businesses Benkei and Maroni would also remove outdoor seating along Woodbine Avenue, and Bistro 44 would also remove outdoor dining along Main Street as per a lease agreement.
On the topic of noise, Gallowitsch assured that, should the proposal be approved, the rooftop dining would be in accordance with current village codes for outdoor dining. This means seating on the rooftop would only be available between code-mandated hours during warm-weather months. Gallowitsch also said music would not be permitted on the deck.
“It’s not going to be some crazy, rowdy thing up there – we wouldn’t stand for it. We have a wonderful reputation in town. We’ll follow the rules and guidelines for outdoor dining,” Gallowitsch said.