In the beautiful waterside town of Port Jefferson, you’ll usually find the same familiar faces enjoying a delicious cup of coffee at Home Art Gallery and Café. Popular with Stony Brook University professors, students, and other locals, this hidden gem at 213 Main Street provides a hospitable, inviting oasis to have meetings or study. A versatile space, the café also houses a custom frame store and hosts numerous art shows and live concerts.
Now, it’s even transporting its patrons to an earlier era as it assumes yet another role. Through the first week of September, the café is hosting a pop-up exhibit commemorating the sweetest slice of Port Jefferson’s past: Gramma’s Sweets, the historic restaurant, sweet shop, and ice cream parlor. Some of the exhibit’s delicious features include a retro soda fountain equipped with red stools and a mirrored wall, diner booths, a black-and-white checkered floor, a confectionary display, and memorabilia such as an antique cash register, original granite soda fountain bar top, and Coca-Cola bottles.
Archive images and newspaper reproductions displayed throughout the space trace the Grammas’ family history and the store’s multiple locations on both the east and west side of Main Street. Established in 1911, the restaurant was started by Gregory Grammas (originally Grammatikikas), who emigrated from Greece in 1905. It closed in 1998. Grammas worked at his family’s NYC candy store with all of his brothers until he moved to Port Jefferson to start his own business.
My favorite cafe/hideout/work space, the Home Art Gallery in Port Jeff, has transformed (until the end of this month), into a diner/sweet shop to host a pop-up exhibit of Grammas' Sweets, established in 1911, a family restaurant which used to be on Main Street. Come check it out! #diner #retro #portjefferson #longisland #sodafountain #cafe #coffee #vintage #icecream
Organized by the Village of Port Jefferson and the original owner’s granddaughter, Jamie D. Econoply-Simpson, the recreation of the beloved gathering spot has already brought in droves of visitors, including many original customers. As part of the second annual Port Jefferson Heritage Weekend, held on August 20 and 21, participants wore period clothing and made root beer floats for a total of 954 customers.
No food will be served during the duration of the exhibit although the café always offers a mouthwatering selection of croissants and pastries. Originally just an art gallery and frame store for over 40 years, Michael Choi added a café to the space after he took it over three years ago. A homey place where locals are on a first-name basis with each other, it occupies a similar role as the long-vanished Grammas’ Sweets. It also produces a perfect cup of coffee.
“I roast fresh coffee everyday. Right here. I don’t get coffee from a wholesaler. It gets kind of old. You’re getting real coffee if you come here,” he says.
Choi has mastered several techniques, such as making pour-over coffee and cold brew coffee. A far cry from relatively fast, mass-produced coffeemaking methods, his cold brew coffee takes 7-12 hours to brew. He then refrigerates it for two days, after which it is ready to drink. This results in a cup with fuller body.
This attention to detail is exactly why customers remain so loyal. The slower method means higher quality. Michael also customizes each cup for his customer, adding a special touch you don’t see anywhere else. Stop by and try his most popular lattes: chai tea, blackberry lavender white mocha, and honey maple.
Home Art Gallery & Café is open Sunday-Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Friday-Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.