These two words, when combined, have become synonymous with chrome finishes, squishy stools, overly bright lights, too many TVs and buckets of budget-friendly beer.
On the other hand, “athletic club” conjures a more sophisticated image: gentlemen in crew socks playing squash, a throwback to another time—or, at the very least, a basic gym.
Debunking all of these preconceived notions this September is the Sayville Athletic Club, where sports and leisure take on a “members only” social club air in the former Perry’s Pub space by the town’s train station. Imagine taxidermy on the walls, artfully chipped paint, and rustic touches executed with country club elegance. Comfortable high-top seating that recalls Hamptons living room style and antique decor collected from Long Island estates, such as old or restored sports equipment and gear, from baseball gloves and balls to the rudimentary hockey masks and water skis of an earlier era. Then take all these vestiges of upscale days of yore and add a contemporary menu with daily specials and from-scratch gastropub fare that vary on the whim of the open-until-2 AM-kitchen; craft beers by the can; and domestic local brew on tap.
Of course, like anything associated with sport, the team is just as important as the space in which they gather. Backing the ‘SAC,’ as the owners already have affectionately abbreviated the space, is a list of heavy-hitting restaurant and bar industry veterans. Hailing from beloved places like The Cortland and Tullulah’s in nearby Bay Shore, Great South Bar in Patchogue, and Barito Tacos & Cocktails in Port Jefferson, the names at bat for this new venture include Ryan Morimando, James McPeak, Terrence Daly, Sean Nolan, Anthony Giarusso and Dave Prunier, all of whom are excited about creating an unexpected, unusual new gathering space for lovers of any and all sports.
Read more: Cornucopia Natural Foods Celebrates 40 Years in Sayville
And it’s not just the ambiance that meets both criteria. According to Morimando, for whom this venture is a first and the culmination of a dream long in the making, this venue will be more than just somewhere to watch people play on TV. Granted, “if you want somewhere to go to watch fishing, this will be it; if you want to watch hurling, come through,” he says with a casual shrug and a smile. But most importantly, Sayville Athletic Club will be a place to really be a part of the sporting world.
As a former member of several runners’ clubs on Long Island, Morimando understands the importance the combination of activity and celebration has on shaping a community, and hopes to make that culture available to anyone and everyone, no matter their sport of choice. And having a background in physical education, Morimando is eager to provide not only a place to gather and meet, but a place to get actively involved in the town—literally.
“Our focus is going to be on sports, and we’ll have events around the major events, of course,” he nods. “But more importantly, we want our bar to be a part of life in our town. We plan to use the big parking lot for stuff like handball, street hockey tournaments, competitive cornhole. We want to be affiliated with and support little leagues, soccer leagues, maybe hold pasta dinner-type traditions before games. Host kickball games, organize weekly events, get people moving in a way that brings them together.”
So gear up! With solid coaches leading the charge, an inspired approach and the willingness to do the work to bring the vision to life, their mid-fall debut season seems primed to be a winner.