serving up the perfect view since 1935
It all began with a snack bar on the beach. The story goes that, in 1935, Southold Town built a “little square box “of a building on the east end of one of the pristine public beaches on the rural North Fork of Long Island. It was their hope to be able to serve refreshments to the local beach goers. Jack Levin, a local young man was searching for work and at the same time Supervisor Horton was looking for someone to run the concession. Jack happened to have been Mr. Horton’s paperboy and he remembered Jack as a hard working kid with infectious enthusiasm. It was a perfect match and Supervisor Horton immediately gave Jack the concession. Jack’s Shack soon became the most popular summer spot on the East End. Jack sold thousands of hamburgers and hot dogs which were washed down by frothy milkshakes while teenagers and adults alike danced to the jukebox, played beach games and swam the lazy summer days away.
That was then, and now, 75 years later, just a stone’s throw east of the legendary Shack, stands the equally famous Soundview Restaurant. The culmination of big dreams and years of hard work, Jack succeeded in completing his vision of a complete resort on the North Fork of Long Island.
In 1953, Jack and his wife Donna built the Sound Shore Motel one mile east of Jack’s Shack and adjacent to the the Soundview Restaurant. Donna ran the 12 unit motel while Jack tended to the wildly popular shack. In 1955, Jack gave up the shack and helped Donna at the motel. The motel’s popularity was rapidly increasing. Jack started building additional rooms for the vacationers. Donna helped but had her hands full tending to their family which was also expanding eventually to include four children; Jody, Ellen, Rachel, and Andrew. The Sound Shore Motel grew and expanded, keeping Jack and Donna working very hard but enjoying life. Meanwhile, Jack always kept an eye on the Soundview Restaurant next door.
Soundview was built in 1949, originally a small seafood restaurant boasting “seafood at its best on the brink of the Sound.” It was a trendy and famous destination where Mom and Dad would grab their baby boomers and drive out from all over the island for a special day or night out in the country. The Soundview was literally built on the Long Island Sound Beach just north of Greenport. A few yards away on the beach stood Cases boat landing where the local fisherman would haul in their fresh catch from a day out fishing on the Sound. It was obvious who their first customers would be. Butterfish, flounder, fluke, porgies, blowfish, blackfish, blues and stripers -- not to forget lobsters -- were all in abundance back then. The chef at Soundview had his pick right outside the kitchen door!
In 1968 Jack’s dream of a first class resort was accomplished when he purchased the Soundview Restaurant next door. The motel and restaurant, now under the same ownership, complemented each other even more. Jack kept up the same reputation of excellence that his customers had become accustomed to. He kept the original charm, but as he winterized the building he subtly modernized, and the Soundview became an even bigger destination. The original bar room was transformed into a gorgeous lounge as he added the soon-to-become-famous piano bar, a novelty to the North Fork. Many a local crooned till the wee hours while the piano man tinkled the ivories. Jack completed his expansion of the restaurant in 1980 when he built the eloquent Gold Room on the east side of the property. The Gold Room, a full scale banquet room for 150 people, was gorgeous and would soon host thousands of events large and small.
Jack’s children have always worked in the business: bus kids, kitchen duties, waitressing, bartending; you name it, they did it. Their progression into management and then to ownership was evident. Rachel and Andrew took over the restaurant in the mid 1980’s. Ellen assumed management of the inn. Jack, of course, kept his watchful eye on them as they eventually took over more and more of the operation of the family business. Today, the Soundview is run by Rachel. Sadly, Andrew passed away in 1998. His memory lives on and is fondly remembered by many customers and staff.
No one can really say when Jack stopped running the show. In fact, if you ask Rachel, she will tell you that he still runs her beloved Restaurant. At 101, he does come in everyday, gives wonderful advice, enjoys a good meal and even has been known to comment on whether he feels she is overstaffing or not working hard enough!!! Today, Jack may be a figure head at the Soundview; however, his inspiration and enthusiasm will remain a big part in its history. So when you stop by, please ask for Jack. You just might be lucky enough to find him enjoying “seafood at its best on the brink of the waterfront.”