It’s been quite a year for the folks on Shelter Island. As the Island settles in for winter and looks to 2016, here’s a review some of the year’s high points:
The Chequit checks back in
Following a $2 million renovation, the Chequit reopened this spring under new management. New owners David Bowd and Kevin O’Shea brought the grand Shelter Island hotel back to its former glory, after buying it for $3.35 million in 2014. All 21 hotel rooms were redecorated, the floors were redone and new restaurants were created. A sign that they were on the right track came in May, when the main building was completely booked for their opening weekend.
“We found the Chequit again after it was lost for 60 years,” Bowd told us.
The New York Post gave the Chequit a glowing review, calling it Shelter Island’s “sexiest” new hotel and the restaurant Red Maple, a “must-try.”
Yet even as major changes were made at the hotel, Bowd and O’Shea stayed conscious of the Chequit’s place in history. The popular outdoor café area remained, as did the balcony and massive indoor bar.
They successfully assured all that the Chequit will always “have a sense of place” reflecting Shelter Island.
Fainting goats come to Sylvester Manor
In April, Shelter Island’s population increased by two when goats Cricket and Copper moved in to Sylvester Manor. The fainting goats, or myotonic goats, were brought in to reclaim pasture land taken over by invasive plants and participate in children’s education programs. The manor chose fainting goats because they are not prone to running away as regular goats are.
Goats are master escape artists, but myotonic goats are less likely to stay on their feet after making a run for it. Myotonia congentia causes skeletal muscles to stiffen when the goats are startled, leading to them to fall down. Cricket and Copper were successfully integrated into several programs at the manor, but were staying on their feet the last time we checked in.
“They are adorable, yet so far unfainting,” said Maura Doyle, Sylvester Manor’s Historic Preservation Coordinator told us in June.
Cricket and Copper settled in nicely as trustees of the manor’s pastures.
“People love goats,” said Julia Trunzo, Farm Manager and designated “Goat Lady” of the manor. They maintain the area, “helping to control non-native invasives,” she explained, a solution to one of the island’s more serious ecological challenges.
Seventh Avenue discovers the Rock
Shelter Island may have a low-key atmosphere, but the beautiful scenery was discovered by the fashion world in 2015. Glamour magazine shot its September cover and a good portion of the issue, featuring supermodel Karlie Kloss at a private Island residence.
“We found the perfect location that suited our concept,” said a Glamour magazine rep.
When not working, the magazine’s crew stayed at the Sunset Beach Hotel on Crescent Beach.
When asked why they chose to shoot on Shelter Island, a Glamour rep responded, “What’s not to like about Shelter Island? It’s gorgeous!”
Soon Shelter Island was the scene of even more fashion shoots as designer Tory Burch used it as the backdrop for her new collection. The clothing line Aerie shot there as well.
And supermodel Gigi Haddid was spotted frolicking on Crescent Beach one summer weekend.
As if promising even more fashionista sightings on the rock, Holly Li, of Holly Li Productions which organized the Tory Burch shoot, said this: “It’s been a beautiful season; there will be more people out here.”
Something’s brewing on Shelter Island
Shelter Island Craft Brewery has been a hit from day one, serving small batch brews made by owner Jim Hull.
Offering a range of homemade regular beers and a rotating list of special beers, Hull has focused on using top quality, locally sourced ingredients from Shelter Island like local hops, fruits, vegetables and honey. At least 20 percent of Hull’s ingredients are from New York, including grains grown upstate. His craft beers take “drinking local” to a whole new level.
Some of his more exotic flavors have included an apple ale, a crème brûlée beer and a brew made with Peconic Bay scallops.
“It’s a very sophisticated type of cooking, because you’re involved with yeast and fermentation times, it’s more of a science,” he said of his process.
A self-described foodie and former chef, Hull says his beers are for “people who have not necessarily been big beer drinkers, who enjoy good food and a unique drinking experience.”
Vine Street Cafe rolls out island’s first food truck
Vine Street Café rolled out its own food truck last summer. According to Chef and owner Terry Harwood, the idea for Shelter Island’s first food truck came from another popular restaurant on the mainland.
“A lot of what we do is inspired by what the North Fork Table & Inn guys are doing. That’s why we’re doing it in our parking lot,” he said of the Southold restaurant’s popular lunch spot.
Vine Street’s summer menu included artisanal all-beef hot dogs with hand-rolled brioche rolls, lobster rolls, a pulled pork roll and chicken salad roll. The truck also served five to six different salads, as well as several vegan items.