Fans of dining in the 18th century building formerly known as John Michael's and before that, Purdy's Homestead, will be happy to know that a new restaurant is opening there Saturday night.
But if they're expecting the quiet, fine-dining experience restaurant-goers had under previous ownership, they'll be mistaken.
"Throw out the idea of fancy," said Edward Taylor, owner of the new restaurant, called Purdy's Farmer & The Fish, located in North Salem at the intersection of Routes 22 and 116. "We want to be a casual place, where people can see their neighbors and bring their kids."
It's the third incarnation in recent years at the old homestead of Joseph Purdy, built in 1775, designated as a local landmark and entered on the register of National Historic Places.
This one will succeed because it will be casual and won't be expensive, said Taylor, who owns Down East Seafood, a fish wholesale business in the Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx, and Fish, a restaurant that serves up fish in a casual atmosphere in Greenwich Village in Manhattan.
The menu will feature local fish—think Rhode Island and Long Island—like black sea bass and wild striped bass, lobster rolls, tuna burgers, a raw bar and soft shell crabs when they're in season. Diners can expect Chef Michael Kaphan to feature simple preparation from the grill and non-seafood options like grassfed beef from upstate New York.
Taylor also plans to restore a former purpose to the land he's leasing from the North Salem Land Trust—farming. He'll grow vegetables on four of the 22 acres and use them to both supply the restaurant and a market that will eventually be added to the property.
"I hope we'll become a food destination for locals," said Taylor, describing his vision of a seasonal farm stand, with ice cream in the summer and pumpkins every fall.
As for the restaurant's decor, Taylor said the building needed a "major overhaul,"which he accomplished by working with local architects from VKS and representatives from the North Salem Historical Society, who identified Civil War-era buttons found under the porch during the renovations.
The quick turnaround was a "real community effort," which resulted in a space that "opened up the bones" of the original building, he said.
The restaurant had a soft opening last weekend for a fundraiser for the Ruth Keeler Memorial Library in North Salem, and will open Friday night for friends and family. On Saturday, the doors open to the general public.
Hours for Purdy's Farmer & The Fish will be 6:30 p.m. - 10:30/11 p.m. seven nights a week, eventuall expanding to include coffee and bakery morning hours and weekend brunch. Reservations are not accepted.