Riverhead Local and letter from Keith Luce

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A letter  from Keith Luce

To whom it may concern,

Today marks the one year anniversary of the reopening of Jedediah Hawkins Inn under new management.  I took on the responsibility of running the daily operations of this magnificent property fully aware that there were issues that needed addressing and obstacles placed in our path toward success.  With this knowledge, I still enthusiastically grasped the responsibility with great optimism, believing that my vision for the property and region, as well as the team I assembled would capture people’s imagination and “win over” naysayers.

I write this letter today with that same optimism. I write also, with a great deal of pride, that our first year of business clearly illustrates our commitment to the region, environment, culture, and community.  While it is impossible to please everyone all of the time, we have earned the right to be recognized as an upstanding small business and champion of region and community through our conduct.  Our past year of efforts has included, but is not limited to: the support of local agriculture and viticulture, preserving an historic property, donating to countless regional charities, bringing positive attention and community pride back to a small business, creating many new jobs, instilling a strong work ethic and teaching a skill set which generates a future source of employment for the community, and reaching out on a civic level to neighbors and activists.  This was all achieved while delivering a pleasant experience to our guests and making that experience more accessible to locals in the midst of one of the most difficult economic periods in American history.

Having deep roots in the area, I watch with great interest the growth and “evolution” of the region, most specifically Riverhead.  It astounds me that more “box stores” continue to be built along the route 58 corridor, at the expense of the condition of Main Street Riverhead and the demise of many small local businesses.  In many notable cases this change of state has resulted in no added immediate tax revenue to the local economy.  With such issues before our local government, it boggles my mind that Jedediah Hawkins Inn continues to come under scrutiny when all that we stand for is preserving a heritage and way of life that is rapidly crumbling around us literally, figuratively and visually on a daily basis.  We do not ask for and never have asked for anything with the intention of creating some “evil empire”.  My partners and I simply want an opportunity to become a sustainable business and continue our efforts toward creating a model of hospitality that embraces region, community and heritage.  Stated simply, we strive to bring enjoyment to people while raising their awareness and preserving a piece of our heritage that is being lost every day.  If small businesses that preserve space such as wineries, agri-tourism farms, responsibly-run restaurants, B&B’s, and country inns aren’t able to exist on a level playing field with larger corporations, nothing will be left.  We do not have to look very far west on Long Island to understand how our open space will be transformed.  Even as some development rights have been sold, who will continue to pay for open space if not community minded business owners?

All we ask for is the addition of a few more guest rooms inside an existing building on our property.  We do not want to create a large catering or entertainment venue, nor do we want to put more traffic on local roads.  We certainly do not wish to hinder anyone’s view or way of life.  We simply wish to use an existing, beautiful structure on our property, within our allowed use, for a chance to make our business sustainable. Being compared to other businesses like East Wind is simply an unfair comparison.  I invite anyone to come and experience what we offer, and challenge them to argue that our intentions are anything other than what we value and deliver right now.  The experience we offer exemplifies the idea of country inn and restaurant.  It utilizes my heritage as a local farmer-turned-recognized-chef and illustrates that Jamesport and the entire North Fork of Long Island deserve to be considered as an amazing place of natural resources, history, promise, pride, beauty, world-class hospitality and excellence. 


Keith M. Luce 

Chef, Proprietor

Jedediah Hawkins Inn

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