Pridwin cookout expanding into October

Steve Gross & Susan Daley courtesy photo.

Steve Gross & Susan Daley courtesy photo.

A delicious Shelter Island tradition going back half a century is expanding.

The Pridwin Hotel’s Wednesday evening cookout, a festive barbecue held on the lawn above Crescent Beach with expansive views of Peconic Bay, had always closed shop at Labor Day.

This year, the all-you-can eat cookout is heading into new territory, breaking not only the tradition of Wednesday night feasting, but serving on Saturday, October 1.

Glenn Petry, whose family has owned and operated the Pridwin Hotel since 1962, was asked why the extension into the fall.

“So many people asked us why we didn’t keep the cookouts going past Labor Day,” Petry said, “and this year we decided it was a good idea.”

One reason they had never continued into October was a serous “pressure drop” the Tuesday after Labor Day, “that even though everyone wants an endless summer,” the thought was to take a break, stop the cookout and stay indoors.

But bowing to the public’s questions, this year the cookout — which is a combination traditional barbecue and clambake — will be back on the Pridwin’s lawn and abuzz on the first Saturday evening in October.

The Wednesday cookout was born for practical, personnel reasons in the mid-1960s, Petry said. “It was the chef’s night off,” he said. “My folks needed to give the poor guy at least one night off a week.”

Since there were paying guests staying at the hotel who had to be fed, other staffers set up the cookout on the lawn and soon the word was out that the Pridwin’s lawn was hosting some seriously good food and drink.

“It just grew,” Petry said. “Now it’s part of our DNA.”

One reason for the growth of the tradition were the numbers of North Forkers who came by ferry for the food and spectacular evening vistas from the Pridwin’s lawn above the bay.

“It’s great,” Petry said, “that we on the Island can share with our friends over there.”

Music has been a big part of the Wednesday nights, and this Saturday will be no different. There’s a music festival in Sag Harbor this weekend and the Pridwin will piggyback on that vibe, with The Buzzards laying down rockabilly until 11:30 p.m.

A specialty at all cookouts is freshly caught fish, and that won’t change. “I hope my brother and father have good weather and get off shore for tuna,” Petry said. “But we’ll definitely have fresh fish.”

The Pridwin’s all-you-can-eat cookout. Saturday. October 1. 6 to 8:3- p.m., live music until 11 p.m. 81 Shore Road, Shelter Island. (631) 749-0476.