The couple initially planned to open a restaurant across the bay in Southold, where Matt was raised, but they changed their minds when chance — in the form of Matt’s mother, Karen Danzer — stepped in. “We knew we wanted to do something together,” recalls Redding. “And Karen knew the landlord of this location, so when the opportunity to take over this space came along, we took it.”
Formerly the Island Food Centre, the space required a gut renovation. The duo kept only the original deli meat scale and the soup pots, which they use for their plants. But Redding and Danzer had plenty of potential restaurant decor already stored in their East Village apartment, and filled the space with a mix of found, vintage and new. The result is reminiscent of an old-time general store.
As for stocking the shelves, the pair knew they had to satisfy the needs of the local community and the taste buds of the city-based summer crowd. Everyday goods like soap, toilet paper and sugar are sold alongside freshly prepared gourmet treats such as fried chicken, oyster po’boys and homemade cookies. They emphasize local products (“the gelato is made on Long Island by a guy named Rosario,” says Matt Danzer), but because Shelter Island is only accessible by ferry, they had to make some exceptions: the cheese arrives from Artisanal restaurant in Manhattan.
And while working with your mom might seem like the most challenging aspect of such a retail operation, (Karen Manzer has been manning the front with Redding while her son works the stoves), the two city refugees admit they haven’t had much time for conflict.
“It’s been a learning experience,” says Matt Danzer. “You’d be surprised with what you can do when you don’t have any options.” As for the difference between First Avenue and North Ferry Road? “We miss not having a laundromat around the corner,” he says.