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Historic Claudio’s complex in Greenport up for sale

Claudio's restaurant in Greenport opened as a tavern

Claudio's restaurant in Greenport opened as a tavern in 1870. This is the restaurant on March 31, 2012. Credit: Eric Heigl

Claudio's, Greenport's iconic waterfront restaurant, is for sale.

Bill Claudio, 76, whose family has owned the business since its founding in 1870, said the current owners -- he and his wife, sisters and brother-in-law -- are "getting a little long in the tooth," and their children "have been so successful in other businesses that they are not interested in running the restaurant." And so, "the family made the decision to explore the market."

The 2-acre parcel, which sits right on Peconic Bay, comprises not only Claudio's Restaurant, but also two outdoor eateries, Claudio's Clam Bar and Crabby Jerry's. It is being listed with Cushman & Wakefield, but without an asking price. "Over the years," Claudio said, "we've asked real estate experts what the property was worth, and the numbers have been all over the map."

The Claudio family arrived in Greenport in 1854 when Manuel Claudio, Bill's great grandfather, stepped off the Portuguese whaling ship Neva. By 1870, Manuel Claudio had saved up enough to open Claudio's Tavern. Over the next 145 years, the tavern grew into a sprawling waterfront complex that draws locals, day-trippers and vacationers. Some customers arrive by boat, many others arrive on motorcycles; Claudio's is a North Fork destination for bikers.

As the North Fork dining scene has become increasingly chef-driven and rarefied, Claudio's menu has remained constant. With the exception of hoisin-glazed duck wings and panko-crusted crabcakes with Asian slaw, this is a menu that Dwight Eisenhower -- if not Theodore Roosevelt -- would recognize: baked clams, New England and Manhattan clam chowders, steamed lobsters and a "fisherman's sampler" of broiled or fried shrimp, scallops and flounder.

Claudio said new owners "would have wide latitude over what could be built" on the property, but noted that the restaurant, which he claims is the oldest, same-family-run eatery in the country, is on the National Historic Register. "I doubt that anyone would knock it down," he said.

Until the place sells, it's business as usual, although the complex is closed for the winter. Claudio said he plans to reopen in time for Easter weekend in April.

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