The restaurant inside The Waterview at Port Jefferson Country Club is getting a brand new look in 2020.

The property’s operator, The Crest Group, is currently transforming its sit-down eatery, the Cliffside, into The Club: A Public Steakhouse.

When the group took over the lease of the former Lombardi’s on the Sound in March 2018, the cuisine at Cliffside was a continental menu with a Mediterranean twist.

Now approaching two years at the location, they decided to change it up — but not before they took the time to research what the surrounding area wanted and needed.

“During that first year we did a lot of focus groups in the community to get a feel for what they were looking for,” said Denise Scidmore, vice president of sales, marketing and revenue management with Crest Hospitality. “We started to evaluate what was missing in this community, what restaurant concepts don’t exist and what is the mile radius between different concepts.”

The team behind the renovation assumed that being on a waterfront property, people would want seafood. They were surprised by their findings. “We really took our time to get a good understanding of the property and the demographics to see what was going to fit,” said Michael Lang, vice president of food and beverage with Crest Hospitality.

That’s when they realized that an old-fashioned steakhouse was needed back on the North Shore.

“While we were researching it, there was a growing need and interest for a steakhouse,” Scidmore said. “And as we continued our research, we realized that 11.5 miles out is the nearest steakhouse.”

So in early fall, The Club: A Public Steakhouse’s concept was approved. “There’s something about the word ‘club,’” Scidmore said. “When it comes to your mind, it’s a little bit remote — there’s a certain elegance about it, but it also has that down-home feeling.”

But they want to remind customers that they are open to everyone, despite being at the Port Jefferson Country Club. “We’re not calling it ‘The Club at Waterview’ because we want to give it its own identity, “ Scidmore said. “We thought, ‘How do we remove ourselves from this stigmatization that it’s this private club?’ because it’s not — and that’s were the public steakhouse came in.”

On Jan. 1, right after New Year’s Eve celebrations, Cliffside closed its doors to begin its renovation. No walls are being broken down, but instead, new wood furnishings, marble floors and artwork representing the history of the community will decorate the walls. Plans also include circular banquette seating facing the water, giving the space a cool, contemporary and urban look.

“We’re enhancing the look of it and bring the physical look of the room to the level of what we want it to be — to really tell the story of  The Club,” Lang told GreaterPortJeff.

“Every detail is very well thought out, from the flooring in the bathroom to the plates,” Scidmore added.

Their target opening date is mid-March, just in time for golf season.

“The Club is going to hopefully be a gathering place for all the people in the community,” said Scidmore. “We want to expand to the neighboring zip codes.”

As of right now, the menu is almost complete. While creating the dishes, The Club wanted to have something available for everyone. “There are certain aspects of a steakhouse that we’ve incorporated, but we wanted to make it a little more up to date,” Lang said. “There’s going to be a bar menu so you can come in for appetizers and drinks at the bar… if you want to sit outside and eat an entrée salad, we have that too. We will have a kid’s menu, so you can bring the whole family.”

With a mid-level price point, The Club doesn’t want customers to feel like it’s going to be overly fancy or expensive. “You can have someone order our seasonal potpie, a great burger or a porterhouse, and a pasta or chicken dish,” Scidmore said. “It’s available to you no matter where you sit (inside, outside or at the bar) at all price points.”

In addition to their different dining options, there will be about 15-20 bourbons on the menu, cigars and a possible Smoked Old Fashion with a whole presentation to be done at the table.

The Club is being designed to cater to all.

“We want people to feel comfortable coming here,” Scidmore said. “Our ownership is very present in the community and Port Jefferson, in particular, is very near and dear to their hearts. We want this to be a place for family.”

The Club: A Public Steakhouse is located at 44 Fairway Drive in Port Jefferson.

Above photo of the outside of Cliffside in Port Jefferson by Julianne Mosher. Below photos courtesy of Crest Hospitality.