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Case’s Place opens on the New Suffolk waterfront

Case's Place opens in New Suffolk (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

The sun was shining, the sea was calm, it was the perfect day for a restaurant opening in New Suffolk.

Case’s Place, the seafood café that replaced the former Galley Ho restaurant, had a soft opening Wednesday.

The restaurant is operated by Ken and Maryann Birmingham of Mattituck on the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund property.
“Construction was just finished last Friday,” Ms. Birmingham said. “So it was right down to the last minute.”

The restaurant seats 66, with space for another 22 at the bar. Blond wooden chairs fill the room, and even the Galley Ho’s mahogany bar remains, but the standout feature is the three gigantic picture windows that look out onto the outdoor deck and beyond that, Robins Island. Tables are available for outdoor dining, along with 10 boat slips for boaters to dock and dine.

Both Birminghams have extensive experience in the food industry. Previously they owned and operated the Riverhead Beef butcher shop. Before that Mr. Birmingham worked for years in the restaurant industry, while Ms. Birmingham recently retired from Cornell Cooperative Extension, where she had been a nutrition coordinator.

Case refers to Ms. Birmingham’s family name with deep roots in the Cutchogue community.

“I’m like 11th generation, we go back to the 1600s in Cutchogue,” she said. “It’s kind of a way to honor my family history here.”

Vintage black and white pictures of Maryan’s family hang on the walls, giving the new space a sense of history.

Now running the kitchen, Mr. Birmingham has brought in old friend Richard Knecht as Case’s chef. The two go way back having worked together many years in the restaurant industry.

“It’s going to be mostly seafood, but because my husband was a butcher for many years, we’ll also have some good steaks and the hamburger meat will be ground on the premises,” Ms. Birmingham said. “He also makes his own kielbasa, bratwurst and seafood sausage.”

Some items on the menu will also be Case family recipes.

“The clam chowder is a family recipe, the strawberry shortcake is my nana’s recipe, and the potato salad,” Ms. Birmingham said. “My mom came from Croatia. There’s some traditional things from over there that I might throw in for a dessert and if I make strudel, that would be from my mother’s side of the family.”

A private dining room that seats 20 people can be used for small private events and will also be used by the NSWF for their meetings.

“Part of our proposal was to work with the community,” Ms. Birmingham said. “The [Waterfront Fund] will use this room for community meetings. It was part of our plan to be in touch and part of the community.”

A 150-year old table from the Case family sits in the center of that room. Ms. Birmingham lovingly pats it as two customers approach to congratulate her on the opening.

“It was delicious, very nice,” said Charlene Goldberg of New Suffolk.

“I had the oysters and that was just delicious,” Denise Reilly of Coram concurred. “I have to come back and try something different every time.”

Case’s Place is now open every day for lunch and dinner, except Mondays, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. It is located at 650 First Street in New Suffolk. For more information call (631) 734-8686.

Ken and Maryann Birmingham with Case's Place chef, Richard Knecht (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

Ken and Maryann Birmingham with Case’s Place chef, Richard Knecht (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

Originally posted in The Northforker by Monique Singh-Roy

Rebuilt Galley Ho in New Suffolk Welcomes New Tenants, New Name


NORTH FORK, NY – After months of public discussion and plans, the legendary Galley Ho will be reborn on the New Suffolk waterfront.

According to members of the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund, new tenants Ken and Maryann Birmingham, who have lived on the North Fork for years and have careers in the food service industry, will operate the newly rebuilt Galley Ho, now to be called Case’s Place.

“We are confident that the Birminghams will create the food establishment that we have long envisioned for the Galley Ho building. After an extensive search process, Ken and Maryann stood out for their willingness to work with the NSWF to incorporate the business into the community,” said Pat McIntyre, chair of the NSWF.

Ken Birmingham has a long culinary legacy on the North Fork: He’s a chef with over 30 years of experience and also a master butcher; the couple owned Riverhead Beef from 1995 to 2005. Maryann, meanwhile, is a local caterer who has planned the picnic lunch provided by Robins Island after the New Suffolk July 4 parade, according to a release from the NSWF. She was also a teacher with a specialty in food service courses at Cornell Cooperative Extension, NSWF board members said.

Carrying on the Galley Ho tradition, Case’s Place will serve local seafood, chowders, burgers, sandwiches and homemade condiments and fries at affordable prices.

The NSWF board of directors said that the new owners of Case’s Place will adhere to the longtime mission of NSWF, “to support commercial activities on the site that enhance community life. The proposal demonstrates a clear understanding of the blend of public space and private business that defines the uniqueness of the New Suffolk Waterfront,” they wrote.

And, they added, “The rental income from Case’s Place will generate funds to help offset the costs of maintaining the entire 2.5 acre property and will help to ensure that the waterfront remains an open space forever.”

The public should expect the new owners to participate in NSWF’s annual fundraisers, such as the annual Chowderfest, as well as programs and other activities that will take place at the waterfront, the board said.

Case’s Place is expected to open in May.

The road to the new incarnation of the Galley Ho has been long: After Sandy, the wooden building that once housed the Galley Ho restaurant in New Suffolk was moved to a new location, farther away from the bay.

For decades, the eatery stood only 18 feet from Peconic Bay on the small New Suffolk waterfront property at the end of New Suffolk Road.

Hurricane Sandy, however, wreaked havoc on the structure’s aging foundation and bulkhead — and members of the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund decided that it was time to relocate the old Galley Ho.

The building was stabilized; the original foundation was lost after Hurricane Sandy.

Built around the turn of the 20th century, the building touches a deep chord for many New Suffolk residents.

The decision to save the building made not only good financial sense, but was also an environmentally wise choice, former NSWF chair Barbara Schnitzler said.

After plans were made to relocate, renovate and add 47 square feet to the historic Galley Ho restaurant building, incuding a 66-seat restaurant and 16 slip marina on the 2.3 acres in the M-II zoning district, some members of the public cried out, stating they were fearful that the facility could host weddings and other large events. Neighbors raised concerns about parking, noise and environmental impacts. Some said they were afraid the size and scale of the new restaurant would far surpass the Galley Ho’s former reputation of a snack bar where boaters could grab a burger and enjoy the view.

However, the project was given the green light in 2014 and today, the NSWF board said they believe the Birminghams will carry on the longtime legacy and tradition of the Galley Ho, when it opens as Case’s Place.

Originally posted on by Lisa Finn

Case’s Place café coming to New Suffolk waterfront in May

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTOMaryann and Ken Birmingham of Mattituck have signed a lease this week to take over the Galley Ho restaurant on the New Suffolk waterfront.

When asked this week how plans for her family to operate a café on the New Suffolk waterfront took off, Maryann Birmingham offered up a surprising answer.

“When did it all begin? I’d have to say way back in the 1600s, when my family helped found Southold Town,” she said.

In May, Ms. Birmingham, née Case, plans to open Case’s Place at the former Galley Ho property with her husband, Ken. The café’s name is a nod to Ms. Birmingham’s ancestral roots.

The Birminghams, who live in Mattituck and are the former owners of the Riverhead Beef butcher shop, signed a lease to operate the restaurant with the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund Monday. Mr. Birmingham has decades of professional experience in the kitchen and Ms. Birmingham is retiring this week from her position as a nutrition coordinator at Cornell Cooperative Extension.

“I always said I have one more business in me,” Ms. Birmingham said shortly after signing the lease. “I still feel enthusiastic and energetic enough to fulfill a dream that we both have. How opportune to have a restaurant in that location and to be able to honor your roots with old family recipes?”

The New Suffolk Waterfront Fund issued a request for proposals for someone to operate the eatery back in September. Board members said they believe the Birminghams — who met at a school dance in East Islip in the seventh grade and have been married 44 years — are the perfect people to operate the eatery in the building, which the organization still owns.

“This is not just a lease and tenant situation,” said NSWF board member Patty Lowry. “They understand that we are a nonprofit and they like our mission.”

“We think they really understand our mission and that we are preserving our property,” added NSWF chair Pat McIntyre.

Ken and Maryann Birmingham, left, with New Suffolk Waterfront Fund members inside Case's Place. The organization will continue to use the building for its regular activities. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Ken and Maryann Birmingham, left, with New Suffolk Waterfront Fund members inside Case’s Place. The organization will continue to use the building for its regular activities. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Rental income from the café will help offset the cost of maintaining the 2.5-acre property surrounding the waterfront.

The Galley Ho operated as a restaurant and bar before the property was purchased by the NSWF in 2007. The organization was established a year before that to purchase and manage the waterfront property and protect it from denser development. The building was later damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The restaurant project has garnered strong criticism, and even a since-dismissed lawsuit, from neighbors who have accused the group of wanting to hold special events, like weddings, at the site as a way to make money on a property that has long been viewed as a community treasure. Nevertheless, Southold Town granted the necessary approvals for the project to move forward in November 2014.

The NSWF will continue to use the building and the rest of the property for its regular events and other existing uses, including the community garden.

Building renovations are nearing completion and the interior will feature wainscoting salvaged from a barn that once sat on the property. While the original Galley Ho building was damaged by Hurricane Sandy, its mahogany bar survived and will remain in place when Case’s Place opens. Ms. Birmingham also plans to display family photos from the 1800s, present-day and childhood summers spent along the Cutchogue waterfront.

Case's Place

GT Woodhull Painting workers Mike Dudojc (left) and Jerry Tercjak painting in the bar area of Case’s Place Tuesday morning. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Locals may have tasted the Birminghams’ cooking before, as they have provided food for the community picnic that follows the New Suffolk Fourth of July Parade.

When Case’s Place opens for lunch and dinner this spring, the Birminghams envision a place where boaters can pull up to a slip and grab a meal to go, or a setting for locals to enjoy dinner against the backdrop of the New Suffolk waterfront.

Expect burgers made with Mr. Birmingham’s fresh ground meat and a raw bar offering a variety of local oysters and other shellfish. The couple plans to secure a liquor license to operate a full bar and they hope to hire another veteran cook to assist Mr. Birmingham in the kitchen.

Fresh local seafood will be the star of the restaurant’s menu, with items like fish tacos, sandwiches topped with homemade remoulades and Case’s Family Chowder — a Manhattan clam chowder made from Ms. Birmingham’s family recipe.

“It’s going to be local seafood,” said Mr. Birmingham, a member of the Greenport Fire Department. “Local everything, actually.”

The Suffolk Times by Vera Chinese and Grant Parpan