True beer lovers will immediately notice the row of fresh taps that line the bar like bagpipes at the newly opened Brownstone Brewing Company.
The sparkling new eatery and sports bar opened two weeks ago at the site of the old Long Island Grill on Portion Road in Lake Ronkonkoma.
Locals have already begun to make it their own. By 5:30 p.m. on a Thursday, the 40-plus linear feet of bar space is more than half occupied. Construction workers and salesmen sit side by side and stare up at any of the restaurant’s 20 flat screens mounted to the exposed brick walls. Everything from horse racing to basketball is piped into the space.
A family walks in and takes a table in the bar area. The staff weaves between patrons, donning black Brownstone T-shirts. The barmaid, dressed as a referee, serves one of three signature beers the Brownstone boasts—an IPA, a blonde, and a seasonal—all brewed at a facility in Patchogue.
This is Brownstone owner Alin Belea’s first venture in the United States. Prior to purchasing the building, Belea had only operated breweries in his native Romania. That changed after a serendipitous encounter at the Long Island Grill. Belea tells the story matter-of-factly.
“I came in here and drank a beer and started speaking to the owner,” he said. “He let me know there was an opportunity to buy. I thought ‘there’s nothing like [the Brownstone] in this community. It was definitely needed.”
The focus of the new place is on local beers and local business. Executive chef and consultant Sinead Corcoran said as much as possible, the Brownstone will deal with vendors in the area. She added that the restaurant hasn’t yet advertised, but is already drawing a crowd.
“Our goal was to make sure the boat floats before it goes out to sea,” she said. “It’s been all word of mouth so for, and it’s been a big hit.”
The restaurant will look different for patrons of the old establishment. The ceiling has been resurfaced with wood slats, the floors are brand new, and the rear dining section can be closed off with French doors. Corcoran also said the kitchen has been upgraded.
Dishes range in price from $10-$15, and the wine list offers five whites, seven reds, and one blush varietal. The dessert menu includes a deep-fried Oreo cookie, but according to Belea, the signature dish is the “Brownstone Bites,” a sausage blend with herbs and spices, served with hot and spicy mustard. Corcoran said they are also considering live entertainment in the future.