The Buoy Bar, known for its great seafood and creative cocktails, didn’t happen quickly. It was more than 90 years in the making, having evolved slowly from its humble beginnings as Scotty’s Fishing Station.
“Scotty’s Fishing Station started it all back in 1929,” says Jeane Magan, general manager of The Buoy Bar and part of the five-generations-long family business.
She says that Scotty’s was more of a marina, where people could pick up bait/tackle and rent boats.
“As time went on, Scotty’s slowly evolved and focused more and more on food and beverages,” Magan recalls. She adds that as late as 1999, when The Buoy Bar got its unofficial start, “We were still renting out a few skiffs.” But a few short years later, the skiffs went, and the venue’s food became the focus.
In fact, the main Buoy Bar kitchen is also the former engine room, where engines were stored as part of Scotty’s Fishing Station.
Magan says that while she continues to manage the bar, her parents Roberta and Tom Doheny are still involved in the business, as are Magan’s four brothers.
“We are a real family-type establishment; everyone works at the bar either on a part-time or full-time basis,” she explains.
Her brother Andrew now runs Scotty’s, which is adjacent to The Buoy Bar and still is a go-to destination for fuel, bait, and tackle as well as a similar yet more streamlined seafood menu.
“Scotty’s menu is a mini-Buoy Bar menu but more kid friendly,” says Magan, adding that they also have a full bar and concession-style menu featuring quesadillas, pizza, and tacos. “Scotty’s has a smaller menu but just as good.”
In The Buoy Bar kitchen is Magan’s brother, Matthew, who creates and executes a seasonal menu full of fresh seafood, such as steamers in white-wine basil broth, mussels in marinara or buffalo sauces, or a house special lobster pizza, described as a gigantic lobster roll, pizza style.
“It’s a thick-crust pizza with fresh arugula, lobster cream sauce, and lots of lobster meat,” Magan says.
Matt was originally just supposed to help out in the kitchen but he quickly leaned into the head chef spot.
“Matt reads cooking magazines and does lots of food-related research. He does a great job,” she says.
Other customer favorite dishes include a crab cake-bacon-grilled cheese sandwich in addition to an always-fresh fish of the day such as swordfish, striped bass, flounder, salmon, and scallops.
Asked about how the bar managed during Covid, Magan said they had to transform to do takeout.
She says they were initially closed for a short time but then had a difficult conversion to takeout.
Magan explained that they had nothing ready to do takeout. “Our bartenders became drivers because they needed work.”
She says that during the summer of 2020, they offered service to boats, which helped because they didn’t have enough room inside the bar to properly distance tables.
“We did our full menu for boats in the summer and then for winter, we used igloos, heaters, and globes, since the winter restrictions allowed us only four tables inside. We survived.”
She added that they had to buy all the little things, from to-go condiments like ketchup and mustard to salt and pepper packages. “Takeout kept all our people employed and kept us in business.”
She says that food costs across the board have all risen due to the pandemic. “A case of chicken wings is more, scallops, cups, straws, gloves … everything has gone up in price.”
However, she also says that businesswise, they are almost back to pre-pandemic levels, noting that they are “very weather dependent.”
Looking ahead, plans are in place to expand the bar’s kitchen to better serve customers.
“We’re a total family business that basically evolved from serving burgers out of Scotty’s to what we are now … a full-blown restaurant.”
The Buoy Bar Waterfront Grill is located at 72 Bayside Dr. in Point Lookout. It can be reached at 516-432-3975 Visit at buoybarli.com.
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