Each year, eateries across Long Island usher in the holiday season with more than just specialty menus. Some serve up grand decorative displays that can put even the biggest Grinch in a merry mood.
Those with an appetite for festive flair can have their fill at any of these restaurants, where the greens are not just on the plate — they’re all over the grounds.
The Milleridge (585 N. Broadway, Jericho): The Jericho mainstay has more room than most — 12 acres — to dress for Christmas. In November, an in-house staff of about 20 spent nearly two weeks hanging wreaths on every window (about 150); placing roughly 600 poinsettias around the grounds; pinning down custom-made, light-up figurines throughout the adjoining walk-through village; and hanging a few hundred thousand holiday lights. Before they officially flipped the switch for the season, its president, Butch Yamali, says he sent a drone up for a full view of the village to ensure it was visible from nearby roadways. All told, he says he spent about $80,000 for the lavish display this season. More info: 516-931-2201
The Snapper Inn Waterfront Restaurant
The Snapper Inn Waterfront Restaurant (500 Shore Dr., Oakdale): The owners have their Eastern European ancestry to thank for the inn’s 30-year tradition of hanging not just ornaments but an entire tree in the Oakdale eatery. It takes about four staffers to place the 6-foot-tall artificial tree in the Connetquot River dining room — named for the riverbank the restaurant sits on — and two to decorate it, says general manager Kerry Blanchard. Decorations went up the week before Thanksgiving and will come down right after New Year’s. Aside from the upside-down tree in the room, fresh garland lines the restaurant’s exterior, entrance, walkways and bar area. A 14-foot artificial tree stands in the main dining room, and more than 100 poinsettias are placed throughout the 10,000-square-foot space. The annual decorating tab is about $10,000. More info: 631-589-0248
Country House Restaurant
Country House Restaurant (1175 North Country Rd., Stony Brook): The Stony Brook eatery has made a big deal of its holiday decorations since at least the 1970s. But Robert Willemstyn says that when he and Scott Wendt took over as owners in 2005, they lit it up a few kilowatts. The restaurant itself is presented as a gift — its exterior is trimmed with a giant red ribbon. These days, the decorating duo makes use of about 30 bales of evergreens, 100,000 Christmas lights, 1,000 feet of garland and at least 100 wreaths. Willemstyn estimates it costs $10,000 to decorate annually. More info: 631-751-3332
Oconee East Diner
Oconee East Diner ( 749 Main St., Islip): Chef Bill Thompson cooks up more than omelets and pancakes: He’s responsible for the eye-catching displays. Above each table and booth are any combination of giant Christmas balls, artificial poinsettia leaves, snowflakes and starbursts. The diner even has its own Grinch — a life-size blowup figure out front, alongside Minions, a snowman and Snoopy. Every holiday, the diner looks a bit different. “We try to be festive. We enjoy it; our customers enjoy it,” says owner Spiro Karagiannis. “It gives everybody a little different experience every time they come here.” Thompson starts decorating the day after Thanksgiving. For the first two years the diner was open, Karagiannis says he hired a decorator. When that person retired, Karagiannis bought his decorations and Thompson took over. Each year, Karagiannis spends about $1,000 to replenish the displays, which come down after Little Christmas (Jan. 6). More info: 631-581-2663
B.K. Sweeney's Uptown Grille
B.K. Sweeney's Uptown Grille (636 Franklin Ave., Garden City): If you’re not in the holiday spirit after visiting B.K. Sweeney’s Uptown Grille in Garden City, you’re not going to be, says manager Lysa Jaramillo. For more than 20 years, Jaramillo has decorated the pub the weekend before Thanksgiving. Patrons of all ages have come to expect it. “They don’t just look for it, they’ve got me down to the day,” says Jaramillo. This year, Jaramillo and “her elves” (five co-workers) spent two full days hanging more than 10,000 lights throughout the pub. Lighted spiral Christmas trees and candy canes are at the main entrance. Inside the restaurant, garland lines entryways and trims the bar; wreaths are in abundance. Above the bar sits a Victorian village. Jaramillo reuses a lot of the decorations, which stay up through Jan. 8. She estimates the restaurant’s owners spend $3,000 this year replenishing ribbon and other materials. “It’s festive. Cozy,” Jaramillo says. More info: 516-746-3075
Tutto Pazzo (84 New York Ave., Huntington): This classic Italian eatery’s main attraction during the holidays also is its biggest expense: a $7,000, 20-foot fire-retardant Christmas that sits in the venue’s enclosed patio. Every year since the restaurant opened in 1992, owners Luigi and Joseph Petrone have held a tree lighting the Friday after Thanksgiving. “The slowest day of the year for restaurants — in Italian restaurants — is the day after Thanksgiving,” Petrone says. “So, when we opened up, we decided that we wanted to do business that day.” The tree has become a major attraction. Joseph Petrone oversees the staff’s decorating efforts Thanksgiving week. “We probably spend like $1,500 a year” for new lights and bows, Luigi Petrone says. The decorations will stay up through Jan. 6. More info: 631-271-2253
The Irish Coffee Pub
The Irish Coffee Pub (131 Carleton Ave., East Islip): The spot’s natural colors lend themselves to the holiday season, says owner and operator Stephen Mahood. “We want it to be simple, subtle, elegant” while embracing the holiday season, Mahood says. To strike that balance, the South Shore fine-dining restaurant enlists the help of a former employee, Debbie McGorry, to decorate the entire 12,000-square-foot space with fresh wreaths indoors and outdoors, and poinsettias on all of the tables. Every year, The Irish Coffee Pub adds a few more details while maintaining an understated style. The greatest expense is the outside lighting, which largely contributes to the $10,000 decorating tab. More info: 631-277-0007