By Cathy Shisler
I grew up in Patchogue my whole life, but never went to Davis Park. The first time I took the ferry over someone told me, you should go to the Casino. Like most people, I thought oh, you gamble there? Being here now for many years I have heard the history of the restaurant, how the building came over on a barge and tugboat over the bay. For those who are visiting or new to the community, here is the true history of the Casino.
When you visit the Casino, Paula or Kristen will greet you. They will show you to your table with a gorgeous ocean view. (Tip: make reservations for table by the window!) You can start out at the bar for a before dinner drink and pick from the delicious drink specials. Catch up with your neighbors and meet new people visiting for the first time. The Casino now looks very different than it once did.
The history began with Mr. Davis of Blue Point, who owned a strip of land on Fire Island. Later when Davis passed away, he left most of his land to the Town of Brookhaven, which became Davis Park. Davis’s three sons inherited the remaining parcel. Later one of the sons sold to four friends, Lee Coffin, Ed Selmer, Joe Gerard and Al Brown. The Casino was born! Once they attained the land they petitioned the Brookhaven Town Board to have it zoned for business. The petition was granted. The original Casino consisted of just a bar and grocery store. The second addition came when a man named Robinson had passed away and the group obtained permission to move his house and incorporate it into the structure. It became what is now known as the Casino Bar.
Business was not like it is today. Lack of access meant that only sailboats could really dock. Town of Brookhaven then built an open pile dock so that other boats could moor as well.
Because the partners wanted a name for their part of the beach, a contest was held. A girl submitted the name “Leja,” comprised of the partner’s initials of their first names.
To open access the partners wanted to invest in a ferryboat. Gerard retired from the contracting business and sold his share of the business to the remaining three partners. He then started a ferry company with just one boat, the Joseph E. Gerard. As his company grew, he bought additional boats. Eventually he sold the business to Fred Sherman and Hobby Miller.
Gerard wanted to be part of the development of Davis, so he gave up his interest in the Casino in return for property in Davis Park. The Casino in turn expanded by removing the grocery store and rebuilding it closer to the harbor, where it resided now with a liquor store and snack bar. You probably hear residents reminisce on the history of the Casino, keep enjoying their stories.
On with community news: We welcome a new family on Trustees Walk, Jon and Donna Pedone, with their children, Jon and Jessica. Hope you enjoyed your first Memorial weekend.
Even though it was slightly cold, we were still at the beach. I warmed myself up Friday night at the Casino Café Bar, enjoying a cocktail made by Jeff, and celebrated the kickoff of Memorial Weekend with my husband, Dave; Lisa and Kevin; and Fran and Lucy. I enjoyed my warm Casino Classic Grilled Cheese, which Vinnie the chef advised me on the ferry would be a popular small bite on the menu. The grilled cheese was served on hand-cut bread, with braised short ribs and Gruyere cheese and cheddar cheese. It was served with a tomato and roasted red pepper shooter. It was the best grilled cheese I have ever had; I probably could have eaten another.
The Casino Bar was rocking over Memorial Day Weekend with Ed Travers. Instead of tank tops and shorts there were sweatshirts and pants donned by many.
The Whitby family of Beachplum had two celebrations. Their daughter, Tess, graduated from Colorado University at Boulder; and son, Tom, was noted as one of the Top 67 Educators who influence the way we learn by noodle.com. Congratulations!
It was great to see Linda getting the post office ready for the season. Post Mistress Linda says services will begin on June 25, both incoming and outgoing mail. She has stamps available, and requests that you try and get them from Davis Park, because those recorded revenues help our post office get up and running. She also sells envelopes, Priority and Express Mail services, as well as postcards and postcard stamps for the U.S., Canada, and Europe. So go see Linda on June 25, buy some stamps and welcome her back!
The first DPA meeting was held at the church on May 16, where members of the Fire District and Fire Department spoke, providing us with an update on the FIMI project. Minutes are available on the DPA website.
Linda Spencer was out placing beautiful flowers in the pots by the post office and Fire Department. There were a few parties going on around the beach. Harbor Store was open, and I saw many people buying the new Davis Park 2015 sweatshirts and tees. Also people were buying up this newspaper to see my first article. Thank you to all who emailed me and congratulated me. Pick up the next issue to read my story on …
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