Long Island’s oldest family-owned restaurant, founded in 1870, is staying in the family.
Claudio’s, Greenport’s iconic waterfront restaurant complex, went on the market two years ago and was expected to change hands this winter. But the deal has fallen through, co-owner Janice Claudio said Thursday. When the season opens April 6, Janice, 62, her husband, Bill Claudio Jr., 78, and his sisters, Kathy Claudio, 71, and Beatsy Claudio Tuthill, 66, will still be at the helm.
Last year, the group entered into an agreement to sell the business to Michael Barrett, former owner of the China Club in midtown Manhattan and currently the owner of The Tippler in Chelsea Market.
“Early March was the end of the initial contract period — and it didn’t come together,” said Janice Claudio. “If the sale didn’t happen, it wasn’t meant to be.” Terms of the deal, including the price of the complex, were not disclosed.
Barrett said Thursday that he was not ready to comment.
In 2015, Bill Claudio said that he, his wife, sisters and brother-in-law (Jerry Tuthill, who died in 2016) were “getting a little long in the tooth” and that their children were “not interested in running the restaurant.”
But Thursday, Janice Claudio said that neither she nor her partners are disappointed in how things worked out. “We were always ambivalent. We were selling a unique business with a unique history — and the idea of retiring is a bit scary. We love the village and we love what we do.”
The Claudio family arrived in Greenport in 1854 when Manuel Claudio (great-grandfather of Bill, Kathy and Beatsy) stepped off the Portuguese whaling ship Neva. By 1870, Manuel Claudio had saved up enough to open Claudio’s Tavern. Over the next 147 years, the tavern grew into a 2-acre waterfront complex that included not only Claudio’s Restaurant on Main Street, but also two outdoor eateries, Claudio’s Clam Bar and Crabby Jerry’s, as well as a marina.
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.
Janice Claudio said that the family plans to bring in more live music this year. It is considering upgrading the marina to accommodate larger ships, and making some cosmetic changes to the facilities. “We revel in being old,” she said, “but we want to stay current.”
On April 7, Claudio’s will kick off the season with an opening party from 4 to 6 p.m. Beer and wine will be selling for $1.47 a glass.