Mr. Crook’s Pub ‘Pops Up’ at the Chequit

Mr. Crook’s Pub offers a sense of England, a taste of American comfort food and the gorgeous scenery of Shelter Island.

Mr. Crook’s Pub offers a sense of England, a taste of American comfort food, and the gorgeous scenery of Shelter Island.

The Chequit is taking a page out of England’s pub playbook, reinventing it with a twist and offering a new seasonal dining concept to its guests.

“We wanted to create a cozy and relaxed gathering spot for guests and locals during the quieter months and were inspired by the classic British pub, similar to the one David [Bowd, Chequit co-owner] grew up working in the village of Salt in England,” said Kevin O’Shea, who owns Salt Hotels, the full-service hospitality company managing the Chequit, an inn on Shelter Island, with Bowd.

The pub scene has always been a central focus in England. Keeping this in mind, the duo developed a similar experience for the Chequit clientele. Mr. Crook’s Pub, a pop-up restaurant, became the result of the hoteliers’ vision.

“We are keeping things fun with hearty classic food and weekly programming to give a reason to come back week after week, especially in the colder months when socializing with friends and neighbors can really boost spirits,” Bowd said.

Located at 23 Grand Avenue, where the Chequit resides, the pub is located in the former space of Red Maple, a more formal dining experience offered to the property’s clientele during the warmer months. The dining space will transition back to Red Maple for the summer season after Memorial Day.

The idea behind Mr. Crook’s menu? Flexibility, to fit any appetite or mood.

“Guests can choose to come in just to enjoy drinks and a few snacks or settle in for a more substantial meal,” O’Shea said. “There are some seating options, too, with the choice of eating casually at the bar or sitting at a table and having a more traditional dining experience.” While the pub’s fairly new, the owners are expecting the Mac + Cheese and Red Maple Burger to do well. That’s in addition to the pub’s fries, which are being offered as a stand-alone side with a couple of additional options, including chili and cheese or loaded, served with bacon, cheddar, scallions and sour cream.

“What we hope will take off this winter is Mr. Crook’s Savory Pie—this is a real British concept the chef is preparing fresh daily, such as chicken or seafood pot pie and combinations of beef and root vegetable, and steak and mushroom,” O’Shea said.

Developed by Salt Hotels’ food and beverage director, Sean Bradshaw, and the bartending team at the Chequit’s sister property, The Asbury, located in Asbury, New Jersey, the cocktail menu was designed around current cocktails trends.

One of Mr. Crook’s more notable cocktails is the Chequit Painkiller; it’s considered to be near and dear to the owners’ hearts. “We wanted to help with hurricane relief, as we have dear friends who live in St. John, and the relief efforts are going to be a long hard road,” O’Shea said. “We think one way we could we help in an ongoing way is by donating a portion of the drink sales of this famous Virgin Islands cocktail.” Mr. Crook’s will donate $3 from every purchased Chequit Painkiller to relief efforts in the Virgin Islands.

The space didn’t sell beers on tap prior to Mr. Crook’s opening. The launch of the new pub concept gave the owners a way to seamlessly integrate this addition. “It also supports our ongoing program of utilizing local purveyors by featuring a brew from Long Island,” he said. “At Salt Hotels, we try to tap into the unique regional offerings that surround of all our new properties as much as possible to offer guests an authentic, immersive experience.” The owners haven’t decided whether they’ll rotate the draft beer selections for the Red Maple’s reopening; they’ll revisit matter as the summer nears.

Designed to feel cozy in the winter, the restaurant’s interior plays to the traditional British pub experience; there’s a large bar for congregating and snug booths throughout. “For the pop up, we added a more relaxed feel, replacing some of the dining tables near the bar with lounge furniture and expanding sitting areas,” O’Shea said. “The goal was to create fun, comfortable spaces perfect for hanging out with friends. We also added a large communal table near the bar to encourage mixing and socializing.” There’s a large-screen TV and an area for customers to play board games.

“We love Red Maple and believe it truly embodies summers at the Chequit, but creating a pop-up allowed us to reinvent the space for the colder weather,” O’Shea said. “We felt there was a need to offer something a little more casual that also includes layered-in programming to help engage the community during the quieter winter months. We loved the idea of utilizing the space in a different way in the off season and felt that changing the name gave us a lot more freedom to explore different concepts in food and programming.”

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CJ Arlotta is a freelance writer residing in Smithtown, NY with his potted plants, bottled wines and overdue library books.