Spicy’s Bar-B-Que, a Riverhead landmark since 1976, has closed — at least for the time being. A sign posted in the window last week said “Sorry, we will be temporarily closed,” and the phone number has been disconnected.
Dee Muma, Spicy’s landlord, said that owner Terry “Spicy” Stoner called her last week and said “he’s probably going to have to close.” Muma said Stoner cited the high cost of food and labor.
Even before the pandemic, Spicy’s was in hot water. In 2018, the Riverhead location and a Bellport branch, which opened in 1978, were seized by New York State for failing to pay $229,992.84 in taxes. A deal was struck with the Department of Taxation and Finance whereby the Bellport location closed permanently and Riverhead was allowed to reopen, even though it still owed $191,695.98. As of June 18, there was still $95,711 owed on that tax warrant and a second sales tax warrant, levied in 2020 for $81,052.58, has a current balance of $9,026.69, according to public records.
Muma said that she is also owed some back rent. The restaurant had been on a month-to-month lease, she added, so she is now in control of the property.
Spicy's had a large following for its fried chicken, which could be ordered "dipped" in barbecue sauce or plain, as well as its fried shrimp, fish and chips, barbecued ribs and macaroni and cheese.
Terry Stoner and his son, co-owner Rick Stoner, did not return calls and emails for comment.