Debra Bowling has been waiting tables at Port Jeff’s popular Italian restaurant Pasta Pasta for over 20 years.
And she continues to do so, but now as the establishment’s new owner.
“I am going to keep serving,” said Bowling, who lives in Setauket. “I still want to be with all my regular customers.”
Pasta Pasta first opened its doors in Port Jefferson Village back in 1991.
Bowling, who also worked as a hostess and manager, joined the team in 1998. About two years ago she starting thinking about buying the eatery at 234 East Main Street.
“The owners [Steve Stands and Jules Buitron] began thinking of retirement,” she said. “Then this spring, they said they were ready to sell.”
Bowling officially took over in January. Cosmetic changes, such as repainting and adding new windows, are already being planned.
As for the food, fan-favorite menu items and the customer-beloved freshly made bread aren’t going anywhere.
“We’re going to have all the same menu items; our entire staff stayed,” said Bowling.
So fear not, Pasta Pasta will still be offering its tortelloni stuffed with six cheese and seafood fra diavolo, though healthier options have been added to the menu.
“We want options for everyone,” said Bowling. “Now, we have no carbs, no sugar, and gluten-free menu items.”
Since taking over, the Bowling family has seen overwhelmingly positive feedback.
“Our customers have been so great, so amazing,” said Bowling, choking back tears. “People are saying we have that family feel.”
That has much to do with Bowling’s husband and six children, who range in age from 17 to 31, that all help out at Pasta Pasta.
“My daughter Emma hosts for us,” said Bowling. “And my son Luke is running out food.”
Her husband, Jerry, and sons Ryan, Blake and Mike also lend a hand.
Their children couldn’t be more proud of their mother.
“She has been doing this for a long time,” said Mike, who runs Pasta Pasta’s marketing. “It’s the American Dream; she worked so hard and now she owns her own business.”
Top: Pasta Pasta’s new owner Debra Bowling at Pasta Pasta last week. (Credit: Nicholas Esposito)