It wasn’t that long ago that Jericho’s fabled Milleridge Inn, one of the oldest and most iconic restaurants on Long Island, seemed destined for history’s trash heap.
Fast-forward a few months and, under new management, the Milleridge Inn now appears to be forging ahead stronger than ever. Not only has the restaurant and it’s surround attractions—including the popular Milleridge Village and Cottage—remained open and received face lifts, but new attractions, including additions to the village and a weekly custom car show in the rear parking lot, are being added as well to help raise the property’s profile, according to general manager Rich Wykerd.
“It’s been going phenomenally well. We took over in January of 2016 and we started construction on all the party rooms. We re-did every room while keeping the same feel and we also recently completed our first phase of construction on the Cottage—our grand catering hall—that can hold up to 500 people,” he said. “I come from a restaurant background rather than a catering background, so it’s also a great learning experience for me. We actually just completed our first wedding this past Sunday, which went very well. Everyone was ranting and raving about the new environment and how great it was.”
When rumors were running rampant that the Milleridge Inn was closing, one especially sore point of contention with the community was the possible loss of The Milleridge Village, a collection of quaint shops adjacent to the restaurant that sells knickknacks, baked goods and ice cream, among other things. However, under the new in management, not only has the Village remained open, but according to Wykerd, who has been running the property for the past three months, there are plans to expand it as well.
“We’re going to be opening a wine pairing and tapas bar very soon at the Old Carriage House at the end of the village,” he said. “And then, right next to that by October we’re going to be opening a micro-brewery. We’re also going to be re-opening one of the buildings in the village and selling all sorts of food items out of it for lunch, such as burgers, hot dogs, waffles, anything you can think of. A lot of people are asking for that and we want to give it to them.”
One of the most noticeable additions to the Milleridge Inn is its new weekly Custom Car Show, held in the establishment’s expansive rear parking lot. Drawing hundreds of motor vehicle enthusiasts each and every Wednesday evening from 4:40 to 9 p.m., Wykerd said the show is a way to draw in the community and remind them that the Milleridge is not only here to stay, but that it’s going to be bigger and better than ever.
“We have a demographic. Everyone’s been here for such a long time, they’ve been coming here and celebrating events here for years, and there isn’t a guest that I don’t speak to that doesn’t have a story about some sort of personal event that they celebrated here, even as far back as the 1950s,” he said. “This restaurant has been here for 80 years. It’s one of the longest-standing restaurants on Long Island, so it’s definitely an iconic location. There was a lot of talk amongst the Long Island community about the fact that we were closing and were going to demolish it and it’s only because of Long Islanders that we’re still here.”
“So, I thought a car show is a great idea,” Wykerd continued. “We don’t make any money off of the car show and it’s just about the only way you can really get a lot of people here on a weekday for any particular reason. I remember as a kid going to the Nathan’s car show in Long Beach and that was every Wednesday, so I figured, why not?”
To get the word out, the Milleridge started blasting news about the car show on their social media websites, as well as forming a partnership with the New York Autofest group for additional promotion.
“We started our first week and we were only expecting about 50 or 60 cars, and we got over 100. Every week since, we’ve been growing and growing and last week we finished off with 380 cars,” he said. “It’s an amazing turnout and people are really supporting us. We have a barbecue set up and we have the Village right next door where we sell cookies and cakes from the bake shop as well as our ice cream parlor.”
The car show started in mid-June, and Wykerd said that there are plans to run the car show—which he confirmed will become a yearly event at the Milleridge—for as long as the weather will allow.
“We’re going to keep doing it until the weather won’t let us. If we can go until September, we will,” he said. “And this will absolutely become an annual tradition here, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be. It’s a great location and it’s a very great draw for the community.”