After nearly 40 years of pouring beer and serving up grub on Main Street in Babylon, the newly renovated Post Office Café re-opened its doors Friday afternoon.
And the place filled up quickly.
“It was like they stormed the gates,” said Mark Lessing, vice president of restaurants for Lessing’s Hospitality Group.
The Post Office Café first opened at 130 Montauk Highway in 1980.
It was the NYC-based Lessing’s Inc.’s first Long Island location, built in a post office building that was in use from the 1930s to the 1970s. (To put things in perspective, the company now owns over two dozen restaurants and catering halls, mostly in Nassau and Suffolk counties.)
Unlike most bars on the island or anywhere, the Post Office Café served hot food, as opposed to nuts, pretzels and Goldfish.
“People didn’t know what to think; was it a bar or a restaurant?” said Jennifer Cantin, a former Post Office GM who’s now the company’s director of marketing.
While the menu evolved from diner-style to gastro pub, nothing much changed inside — other than the paint and some of the décor.
But the Post Office did expand into Peter’s Pasta, a former Italian restaurant known for its memorable appearance on Gordon Ramsey’s then-fledgling hit television show Kitchen Nightmares.
The expansion happened eight years ago, and the remodeling of the Peter’s side made the old side of the Post Office Café feeling, well, old.
After much planning, the original Post Office side closed two weeks ago for the renovations. (Photos below.)
“We painted, we have new lighting, new tile floors, new fireplaces, a new brick facade,” Lessing, also a former Post Office GM, told GreaterBabylon’s Nick Esposito in a Facebook live interview (above). “We basically ripped the whole thing down and built it up brand new and it looks fantastic.”
The “new” Post Office also features new art on the walls depicting local beach scenes, and the management decided to keep some of its trademark carousel horses and menagerie animals in place.
There’s also a 135-inch drop-down projection screen for NFL Sundays.
“It was a two-month job we piled into a little less than two weeks,” said the restaurant’s current manager, Michael Lessing Jr. “It was a photo finish today.”
story by Michael White
Photos below by Paige Beallias/Lessing’s Hospitality Group