Legal Sea Foods has served its last steamer on Long Island. The 14-year-old restaurant at the southern end of Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station closed on Dec. 28. The restaurant’s 50 employees had been given two months' notice.
The restaurant was shuttered in February after a carbon monoxide leak killed its general manager, Steven Nelson, 55, and sickened dozens. It reopened, with new carbon monoxide detectors, three weeks later.
When it first opened in 2000, Legal Sea Foods was the first Long Island outpost of the Boston-based chain. The menu was a combination of New England classics (including fried Ipswich clams and three types of clam chowder) and globally inflected New American fish dishes. A second Legal opened in Roosevelt Field in 2004; it closed in 2012.
According to Roger Berkowitz, Legal’s president and CEO: “Our 15-year lease at Walt Whitman Mall is expiring, and we decided to look for an alternate location. As our restaurant group has grown, our approach to site selection has evolved to keep pace.”
Director of marketing Ida Faber would not say whether Legal Sea Foods was looking for a new Long Island location. “So many factors go into site selection ..."it’s more an art than a science. But lately we have opened in urban neighborhoods.” She added that “in the New York market, we are more actively looking in Manhattan.”
Legal is exiting Walt Whitman Shops just as the mall is experiencing an efflorescence of dining spots. Zinburger, Brio Tuscan Grill and P.F. Chang's China Bistro all opened in late 2013, joining the restaurant chains Cheesecake Factory, Panera and California Pizza Kitchen.