In recent years Main Street in Riverhead has established a history of being a meeting place with its mom-and-pop shops, entertainment landmarks and charming boutiques
“Riverhead is waking up from a deep slumber and reinvigorating back into a walk-able hamlet that serves as a gathering center for community life,” says Chris Kempner, Director of Community Development in Riverhead.
The long-awaited reopening of the historic Art Deco Suffolk Theater has generated an electric shock that has downtown brighter than it has been in decades. Set to officially re-open in December, the theater already enlivens Main Street with a new LED light display on its grand marquee.
The arduous task of restoring this antique marble building to its former majestic appearance was a real feat. The high walls and ceiling of the theater proper have been repainted, new seats have been terraced, the magnificent stage has been expanded and new staircases with arching wooden curves have been added. Proud owner Bob Castaldi, though exhausted, is excited about its nearing completion.
“We were able to fit 20 pounds of space within a five-pound box,” he said. “We really feel like we’re doing a good thing here by saving this theater.” said Castaldi.
The Suffolk Theater opened its regal doors for the first time on December 30, 1933 during the height of the Great Depression. Now the old movie house intends to reopen those doors this December—nearly 80 years after its grand opening—looking to recapture the spirit that helped East Enders survive America’s hardest times.
Castaldi hopes the December timing is a good omen for the theater’s second life.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter is thrilled and eager to have this magnificent building alive again on Main Street. “The theater really is the central hinge that binds East and West Main Street together,” said Walter in an interview earlier this year. “You have great restaurants and the historic society on the west and the Aquarium and the Riverhead Project to the east—the potential is great.”
With the emergence of the old, regal theater on Main Street there is a connection between East and West Main Street that has seemed to be absent in the last decade. The theater is not only this magnificent, grand structure but a symbol of Riverhead’s historic past renewed.However, the old Suffolk Theater is not the only new attraction emerging on Main Street.
Officially opening in the early months of next year is Summerwind Square. The new 14,000- square-foot green-design building will house 52 rental units as well as 8,472 square feet for retail uses. The facility was built after three decaying structures were demolished as part of the town’s downtown revitalization project.
“I am very excited about Summerwind,” said Kempner, “It changes the flavor of Main Street by extending hours, making it more of a 24-hour downtown with more people living down here.”
In addition to the Summerwind facility is Joe’s Garage, a home-spawned, family oriented throwback to American eateries that deepens the town’s lineup of great places to dine. Rumored designs of an overhead garage door as the entrance, classic car backseat benches functioning as booths and other automobile and classic gas station memorabilia lend to the eatery’s American motor motif.
Also look for the latest Blue Duck bakery outpost and…a return of the dinosaurs!
Visit the Suffolk Theater now at www.suffolktheater.com.