Skipper’s in Greenport changes hands

Bobby Heaney, longtime owner of Skipper's in Greenport, behind the bar on Friday afternoon. (Credit: Rachel Young)

Bobby Heaney, longtime owner of Skipper’s in Greenport, behind the bar Friday afternoon. (Credit: Rachel Young)

A decades-old Greenport eatery has been sold for just under $1 million.

Bobby Heaney, who has owned Skipper’s Restaurant on Route 25 since 1979, told northforker.com he plans to retire at the end of February. Heaney, 66, said he sold the eatery to Greenport restaurateur Bryan Villanti for $925,000 in August with the understanding that he’d retain ownership of the business until March 1.

“It’s time to retire,” said Heaney, who suffered a heart attack two years ago. “I decided I’ve made my money and I’ve had my fun. I’m going to miss the customers, but it’s time to move on.”

A Greenport native, Heaney purchased Skipper’s for $85,000 nearly four decades ago. Since the mid-1950s, the site had operated as a snack bar catering to golfers at the nearby Island’s End Golf & Country Club. Under Heaney’s ownership, Skipper’s expanded to include a 70-seat dining room and bar. The roughly one-acre property also features a separate one-bedroom bungalow.

Villanti said he will keep the restaurant’s offerings more or less the same and doesn’t expect to make many changes to the existing menu, which features everything from chicken wings to burgers and stuffed flounder. He’s also retaining the establishment’s nautical title, though he will be adding another name as well.

“It will commemorate my mom,” Villanti said of the soon-to-be revealed moniker.

Villanti said he plans to make some interior improvements and modernize some of the eatery’s decor, which currently features wood carvings of sailboats and sea captains, carpeted floors and porthole-sized windows. He also expects to make some upgrades to the property’s exterior and offer an outdoor raw bar during the warmer months.

The Skipper's dining room. (Credit: Rachel Young)

The Skipper’s dining room. (Credit: Rachel Young)

Heaney said executive chef Leo Monroy — along with the rest of the staff — will retain their positions once Vallenti, who opened the small-bites restaurant Industry Standard in Greenport last fall, takes over.

“He’s going to keep the same menu for the first year and just see how it goes, which is a smart thing to do,” Heaney said of Vallenti’s plans for the restaurant. “We’ve been successful.”

Skipper’s is the second longtime Greenport restaurant to be sold in recent months. The Sound View, which had been owned by the Levin family for six decades, was sold to Manhattan investors for an undisclosed sum in January. And the Claudio family, who opened Claudio’s in 1870, has confirmed they are in contract to sell their establishment.

“It’s like the old regime is leaving,” Villanti said. “[Heaney] is the last of the original restaurateurs and it’s all new blood.”

Heaney agreed.

“It’s not going to be local anymore,” Heaney said of the change in hands at other nearby restaurants. “It’s becoming more like the Hamptons.”

Along with his desire to relax and travel with his wife, Diane, Heaney attributes changes to the North Fork’s culinary scene as one of the reasons he has decided to throw in his hat.

“Eventually a hamburger and a Coke is going to cost you 20 bucks and I can’t be the one to do that to the locals,” he said. “It’s time for me.”

An exterior view of Skipper's in Greenport. (Credit: Rachel Young)

An exterior view of Skipper’s in Greenport. (Credit: Rachel Young)