Baiting Hollow’s Cooperage Inn brand continues to grow. From the restaurant’s NoFo Pot Pies takeout addition to a North Fork retail store in the works, the business shows no signs of slowing down.
One reason for the Cooperage Inn’s popularity is its consistency. Purchased by Jonathan Perkins and his wife Rene in 1999 — as the fulfillment of his dream to own his own restaurant after working at his parents’ establishment — the restaurant has maintained a high quality of food, drink and service, with several members of the team, including general managers Kevin Carson and Scott Hopkins, having worked there for more than a decade.
“My family always said you and your wife would make a great team at running a restaurant,” Perkins says of Rene, who is responsible for Cooperage Inn’s welcoming ambiance and seasonal decorations. “Her success is a big part of my success. We all have our role here. … When you have a good support team behind you, it makes your job much easier and makes running a restaurant so enjoyable.”
Perhaps the biggest factor in building a loyal restaurant clientele is the food. Head Chef Jeff Russell’s menus consists of “classic American fair with a comfort food flare,” as Perkins describes it. Seafood brousse, braised short rib stroganoff, paella, honey-roasted cedar plank salmon, eggplant fries and crispy calamari are just some of the menu offerings, each served in a generous portion.
The core menu changes semi-annually, but specials shift each week, with an emphasis placed on the seasonality of locally-sourced ingredients, especially once the East End farm stands open for the summer.
Fresh lettuce, asparagus, green beans, zucchini, butternut squash, acorn squash, rutabaga, corn and root vegetables are among the local ingredients found in the restaurant’s seasonal dishes and mixed greens, which features seven or eight veggie varieties at any given time.
Some of Cooperage Inn’s biggest partners include Anderson’s Farm Stand, Andrews Family Farm, Deer Run Farms, Schmitt’s Farm and Crescent Duck Farm.
Their wine list is equally as inclusive of local businesses, with seven wineries included on the drink menu — Pindar, Lenz, Macari, Raphael, Paumanok, Bedell and Wölffer Estate — and many of the other vineyards on rotation through drink specials.
“My philosophy in business is that people will support you if you support them,” Perkins says. “I believe that wholeheartedly.”
Of course, when discussing Cooperage Inn’s menus, it’s impossible to do so without mentioning their chicken pot pie, which is so popular that it was the basis for the restaurant’s sister business, NoFo Pot Pies. The idea to sell frozen pies to-go began to form when attendees of Cooperage Inn’s annual Fall Festival begged for a way to enjoy the large, flavorful chicken pot pies at home.
“They didn’t want to eat it at the Fall Festival, so it’s a small little thing that we dabbled in,” Perkins explains.
NoFo Pot Pies officially launched in 2020, as a takeout window at Cooperage Inn, and it has since partnered with numerous Suffolk County businesses who now carry the pot pies.
The menu has grown to a core of seven flavors: classic chicken, vegetarian, short rib, turkey, shepherd’s pie, jambalaya and a lobster, shrimp and scallop pot pie, which began as a seasonal special but became a year-round staple due its immense popularity. Still seasonal are the corned beef and British game pie flavors.
While many people enjoy both NoFo Pot Pies and Cooperage Inn, some don’t realize that the chicken pot pies sold at each business are one in the same. To help increase brand awareness, the restaurant’s staff uniforms incorporate NoFo Pot Pies shirts, and Cooperage Inn diners receive a 10% discount coupon for NoFo Pot Pies ordered right after their meal.
“Keep your eye on the pie,” Perkins says, noting that big things are in the works for the NoFo Pot Pies brand. Those looking to try all of the unique flavors will soon be able to order a sample box of four smaller pies. Look for them this summer.
Next on the horizon for NoFo Pot Pies is a retail food store coming to the North Fork.
“We are NoFo Pot Pies — we’re on the outskirts of the North Fork, but we wanted to establish a home in the heart of the North Fork,” says General Manager Scott Hopkins. The prospective Mattituck space will sell restaurant-quality heat-at-home dishes prepared in their Baiting Hollow kitchen. Expected offerings include frozen TV dinners, clams, spring rolls, soups and more. Keep an eye on their socials, @CooperageInn and @NoFoPotPies on Instagram, for updates.
Cooperage Inn and NoFo Pot Pies are located at 2218 Sound Avenue, Baiting Hollow. For more information about Cooperage Inn dining and catering, call 631-727-8994 or visit cooperageinn.com. And for more on NoFo Pot Pies, call 631-548-7437 or visit nofopotpies.com.