You may not be acquainted with Suite 1828, one of LI’s newest pubs, but its location (and former persona) should be memorable for many of Nassau County’s frequent South Shore commuters.
During the past decade, anyone driving down Sunrise Highway in Merrick during late afternoons and evenings likely couldn't help but notice Jugs-N-Strokers, a biker bar that was formerly the long-running identity of the bar found at Suite 1828’s current address. For years the usual scene was one of gentlemen and ladies standing en masse in front of the building’s entrance, dressed in black leather and denim, next to a lengthy row of motorcycles parked along the venue’s curb. This display of patronage was unquestionably striking. However, by the beginning of May 2014, the proprietors changed the name and the personality: “We loved what was here, but we felt it was time for a new direction,” says co-owner Tara Finchler, “Greg (co-owner Greg Pomponio) and I decided this was the right move.”
The name may be new, but internally the physical changes aren't that extreme, as much of the current decor -- a lodge-like collection of antique tables, couches and chairs (including a seat that resembles a woman’s shoe), movie posters and rock memorabilia (with the most notable piece of ornamentation a shaggy stag’s head, mounted over a fire place) -- was actually in place before the tavern was converted into Suite 1828. However, its drink menu has been upgraded from just mostly common beers to also include craft options (look for such items as Redd's Apple Ale, Founders All-Day IPA and German brew Weihenstephan Hefe Weissbier on tap, and a pear cider to be available soon) -- and the clientele now consists of a wider variety of customers; anywhere from 21-55 in age, the crowd’s dress style ranges in fashion from older men in business casual clothing to youthful folk in T-shirts and slouchy college-kid knit caps. Coffee drinks such as espressos and cappuccinos are also to be had -- and don't be afraid to ask for anything, as the bar staff is especially engaging.
In the end, the found-item vintage furniture scheme, unusual drinks and clique-less personality could work in tandem to make this a destination for people seeking an offbeat, hip scene -- especially those who consider preferable music a critical component of an evening out, as the spot’s jukebox can be accessed and personally controlled with an iPhone app called TouchTunes (touchtunes.com) by anyone in the house (with an iPhone, of course).
According to Finchler, a good portion of Suite 1828’s plans are still in development, but she mentioned that there is currently live music nightly from Wednesday-Saturday, and such events as a country music night and a weekly DJ party are possibilities – and furthermore, while the Jugs-N-Strokers days are gone, she added that a few of the old regulars are not only still coming by, but remain invited: “Things may be different now, but we're happy to see them.”
Suite 1828: 1828 Sunrise Hwy., Merrick, 516-623-4449