A year and a half into the renovation of Elli’s Country Store and everything is going according to plan, says new owner Amanda Ellioff.
Ellioff bought the gas station/convenience store, formerly known as “O’s Place”, in 2013. She has spent the past 18 months renovating it.
“It just happened to be this rundown place that had a lot of potential and one of the biggest potentials is that it’s one of only two gas stations on the island,” said Ellioff.
A native of Cutchogue, Ellioff comes from a family of business owners, so it was only natural that she would eventually own one as well. Having previously worked in the fashion industry and then as an executive assistant, two years ago Ellioff decided it was time for a change.
“It seemed like a good opportunity, I was living in the apartment behind here and trying to think of someone I could trust to work and live here,” she said. “So my best friend from high school, Alexandra Masiak, moved here from Florida and now we live in a cute little house on Shelter Island.”
“I’m probably going to drop the ‘Country Store’ soon, just because I feel that it’s a mouthful and Elli’s is short and sweet. I put down the hardwood floors. This winter we’re really going to make a lot of changes.”
Installing new counter tops and expanding the menu are part of those changes. Currently Elli’s serves breakfast and lunch to a sellout crowd nearly every day.
“We have a group of guys who come here in the morning, most retired and they come to chit chat over coffee together,” Ellioff said. “We do all the food orders for South Ferry. Every morning the ferryboat will text us an order around 6:30 in the morning. We’ve been curating our craft beers, we have a lot more craft beers this year than last year. We’re also going to start to bake, maybe have some Elli’s products and really turn it into something.”
But Ellioff realizes she has to move at a certain pace when making changes on Shelter Island.
“The one thing I’ve learned about such a small community is consistency. You’ve got to always have the same products,” she said. “Most of the products here in the winter, usually just one specific person comes in for that. That’s how our merchandise is put together, someone comes in for wafers and a coffee, someone comes in for a Reese’s and a coffee. Everybody knows if you come in looking for something that we don’t have, we will try our best to get it in next week.”
And when it comes to that coffee, Ellioff wants everyone to know that the coffee is always hot at Elli’s.
“The coffee is available at all hours, if you come in five minutes before we close and you want coffee, we will brew you a fresh pot,” she said. “Everyone who works here knows if you’ve put the coffee away and someone comes in for coffee, you’ve got to start over.
“We have done a really good job at getting to know all of the locals we have created relationships with. We take the time to ask people what’s going on in their lives Some people who come in say it’s like ‘Cheers”. We really try to get to know people, because when you’re getting your coffee in the morning, I think that makes a huge difference.”
Elli’s Country Store is located at 35 South Ferry Road. For more information call (631) 749-2844.