Nicky's on the Bay in Bay Shore.

Nicky's on the Bay in Bay Shore. Credit: Nicky's on the Bay

Times are changing for Nicky's on the Bay. When the restaurant first opened at the end of Bay Shore Marina Park in 2004, it had sweeping views of the water and 16 seats. "We were so busy that whole season we couldn't open for lunch," said owner Nick Parini of the property he leased from the Town of Islip. "We grew more and more, from day one."

Eighteen years, several expansions and 600-plus seats later, Nicky's on the Bay is a waterfront institution, a multitiered temple to summer gilded by Rocket Fuels and baked clams. But only for a few more weeks: In October, Parini and his wife, Rachel, will turn over the keys to another lessee, Joseph Vitrano, and his partners. (Vitrano is a co-owner of J & B Restaurant Group, which also operates Tiki Joe's at Captree Boat Basin and other properties).

Nicky's on the Bay's season concludes with a party on Oct. 10 with live music (from Tradewinds) and 50% off "drinks, desserts, whatever's left," he said, and proceeds going to the back-of-house staff. (At the height of the summer season, Nicky's on the Bay employs about 185 people, and in the fall roughly half that).

Parini struck a nostalgic tone about retreating slightly inland from his bayside perch of the previous 18 years. "It's been sweet — it's been a life on the water. This is the best location on Long Island," he said.

Parini got his start in the restaurant business decades ago with a Bethpage pizzeria, he said, and later, Villa Roma in Commack. In 1989, he took over a clam bar at Bay Shore's Fire Island Ferries terminal, which became Nicky's Clam Bar — that business will stay open.

Vitrano said he is eager to take over the location come November, when the transfer of the business will occur. "It's a gem. Nicky's done an incredible job there, and it has a great staff and great crew," said Vitrano.

Vitrano declined to discuss plans for the space before the transfer is complete — and those plans are vetted by the town of Islip — but he said that the name of the business will change to The Bay Club and will reopen in April as usual. One significant change: "We're proposing to be open year-round," he said. 

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