The Grill Room, one of the Hauppauge's fine dining restaurants, has undergone a seamless change over ownership in the past two weeks. Returning patrons might be surprised to find a familiar face has stepped out from behind the bar to greet them at the door.
Raymond Rupp, a three-year weekend bartender at The Grill Room, became its new owner on Oct. 29. In the past two weeks, Rupp been working long hours for his slice of the American Dream.
"It's always been my dream to own a restaurant, and there's a great base here. We're in the second largest industrial park in the nation," he said.
Since July, Rupp has been negotiating an agreement to purchase the establishment from former co-owners Larry Brown and Mark Taub. Details were not disclosed, but Rupp said it was an amicable transition. He walked as owner on the morning of Oct. 29 and it was business as usual.
"This has been a niche here for 18 years. For many of those years, this was the in place and I want to get it back to being the in place again," the new owner said.
Rupp has extensive business and restaurant experience to bring to the table. He worked for 13 years on the New York Stock Exchange, before his position was phased out by technology, and started bar tending in September 1991. Over the past 19 years, Rupp has worked at Villa Monica in West Islip and the Jolly Fisherman in Roslyn.
He's challenged himself to step out from behind the bar, greeting people as they walk in the door to The Grill room.
"I love being in the atmosphere. I love being behind the bar. I like talking to everyone and after 20 years, you might say I have the gift of gab," Rupp said.
Regular patrons don't need to fear any changes with the change of ownership. Rupp said the menu, décor and staff will remain the same citing "if it's not broken, don't try to fix it."
The New American restaurant has been described by Zagat as "A Manhattan restaurant outside of Manhattan." Although, that wasn't always the case. The Grill Room started its life as a lounge, before Brown and Tubb transitioned it to a grill and bar scene. This is still reflected in the different atmospheres that strike as Mondays to Thursdays its primarily serves as a restaurant, Fridays is all about its Happy Hour from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Saturday its focus is on offering a fine dining experience, Rupp said.
The new owner's first goal is to make diners more aware of that The Grill Room has to offer and where it's located.
"I just want this to be a place people can come in and enjoy," Rupp said.
Brown and Taub could not be reached for comment on the change of ownership.
Check out our latest review of The Grill Room during Long Island Restaurant Week