Greenport native Jim Liszanckie can’t stop grinning.
The 1992 Greenport High School graduate, who’s worked in restaurants and the food industry his whole life, is looking forward to owning his first restaurant in 2017.
“I’m so excited about it,” he said.
Liszanckie and his wife Sunny are buying the iconic Riverhead Diner and Grill on East Main Street, which turns 85 in 2017.
They anticipate a mid-January closing.
Liczanckie, 42, lives in Riverhead with his wife Sunny, who grew up there, and their 15-month-old son. They don’t plan to make any major changes to the place or the menu that’s been offered to diners for decades.
“It will be freshened up,” Jim Liszanckie said. He means that literally. “We’ll be buying fresh produce from local farmers in season,” he said. There will be some new things added to the menu, but the old favorites — including liver and onions — will remain.
“We don’t want to change this place. We want to add to it,” Liszanckie said.
“We’re very excited about Riverhead,” he said. “There’s a lot happening downtown… I’m very excited that we’re going to be part of it.”
Liczanckie started out as a dishwasher at the Shelter Island Yacht Club when he was a kid and worked his way up. Along the way, he attended Culinary Institute of America. Locally, he’s worked at Digger’s, Fishermen’s Rest and A Mano. For the past seven years, he’s done food sales for Dairyland Chef’s Warehouse.
The diner — which will be renamed Sunny’s Riverhead Diner and Grill — will be open for breakfast and lunch at first. After a few months, it will also serve dinner every night and remain open till “at least 9 or 10.”
Liszanckie plans to open at 6 a.m. “We want to offer a place where people on their way to work can grab coffee and breakfast,” Liszanckie said.
He also plans an “express menu” that will offer people options that will get them out the door in 15 minutes. He also plans to eventually offer delivery service.
“The history of this place is important to us,” Liszanckie said. “It’s been here since 1932, so you know this is a very special place.”
“Our mission is to be family-oriented and community-minded,” he said. “If we do that I know this place will be successful.”