By Laura B. Weiss
It was pouring cats and dogs today so it seemed like a good time to check out Star Confectionery in Riverhead, Long Island on what’s left of the town’s old main commercial drag. Approaching the nearly 100-year old luncheonette, you see empty storefronts lining Riverhead’s Main Street. Meanwhile, on nearby Route 58, big box stores sprout like mushrooms. There’s a PC Richards in the process of being built. Rumor has it that a Wal-Mart is going in across from the Tanger Outlet Mall. Not good news for the small business owners on Main Street.
But thankfully, Star Confectionery is still there. Confectioneries once dotted the land. They served up ice cream and candies, and in fact Star Confectionery started out in 1911 as a candy and ice cream store. Before they were ripped out in the 1940s, mahogany candy display cases and a marble counter and table tops adorned the Riverhead ice cream landmark.
Yet even with “modern” 1940s-era wooden booths and a Formica counter, the place reeks of nostalgia. The original tin ceiling and blue, green and white marble floors are still there. The front display window is a gem. Magnificent stained glass frames the front display windows and doorway.
“I get antique dealers in here all the time who want to buy that stain glass,” reports Anthony Meras, age 75, son of the owner. Anthony still comes in daily to do the prep work for the luncheonette’s sandwiches, burgers, and salads. Son Anthony, 40, is chief cook and bottle washer.
What do people love about the place? The olde timey feeling, of course. But also that the two Anthonys make everyone feel like family.
“It’s very friendly,” said a couple from Greenport who stop in every time they’re in Riverhead.
After I finished my scrambled eggs, Anthony Senior took me down to the old stone basement to see the 100-year-old ice cream maker and the machines and molds he uses to produce his beloved chocolate turkeys for Thanksgiving, Santas for Christmas, and bunnies and baskets for Easter.
Check out the Star Confectionery before it gets beaten down by the big box and fast food crowd.
4 Main Street