Dan Rattiner's Stories

Cyril’s Fish House: The Polka Solution

People wonder why Cyril’s Fish House in Napeague has had its liquor license canceled, which will probably result in the place closing later this fall. Physically, the building is just the same as it always was. Other than two refrigeration units out back, both on wheels, there are no other new structures.

Cyril’s was founded around 1990. It had been a bar and restaurant before that. But in 1984 the property was re-zoned residential, which meant that everything there prior was grandfathered in, but you could expand no more.

Well, they haven’t. And they even shut down at 9 p.m. every weekday night, 10 on the weekend. What’s the problem?

The State Liquor Authority cites a “complete disregard” of local zoning laws among the reasons they are pulling its license. But there is no new building, and other violations cited appear overblown to this reporter. What there is, however, is more and more people. There are hundreds of them and they sit outside at picnic tables, they wander around drinking Caribbean drinks, listening to Bob Marley and they hobnob with Cyril himself, a character of Irish descent who lives barefoot here in the summer and in the Caribbean island of Anguilla in the winter. Cyril’s is now the “it” location.

The actual trouble, it seems, from a zoning point of view, is that before Cyril came, maybe 60 people were at this bar at any one time. Now, because Cyril is such an interesting person, there are swarms of people. The truth is that during July and August on any Saturday in the early evening between 7 and 10, traffic on the highway is sometimes slowed for as much as 1,000 yards, as drivers rubberneck this situation, watching the revelers who have parked their cars and walked to this bar of choice to stand around celebrating the sunset. This certainly is not like it was before it was grandfathered.

Cyril’s is being killed because of its popularity. Because of three hours in the early evening on eight Saturdays a year, I believe, the town officials are outraged and want the place closed. And the SLA has bought into it.

What could Cyril’s do? My advice? On the remaining Saturday nights, hold Polka Night. Come hear Jenny Z, her accordion and the Bavarian Polka Ensemble. Most revelers will go elsewhere. Problem solved.

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