Tag Archive | "joe tremblay"

Rebuilding Marine Meadows at Bay Burger This Weekend

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For the second year in a row, residents in the Sag Harbor area will have the opportunity to participate first-hand in helping to rebuild the eelgrass population throughout the East End bays and estuaries. Eelgrass is a critical component of the local ecosystem that allows marine life to thrive.

On Saturday, September 15 at 3 p.m. the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) will bring its Marine Meadows Program to Joe and Liza Tremblay’s Bay Burger restaurant on the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike.

The program is a community-based, collaborative component of CCE’s overall eelgrass restoration effort, which is funded in part by Suffolk County’s Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program. CCE offers these workshops throughout Long Island, giving residents an opportunity to learn about the importance of eelgrass to the marine ecosystem.

At this weekend’s workshop, participants will weave eelgrass shoots — harvested from healthy donor meadows in local waters — into burlap planting discs.  Once assembled, these discs will be planted by SCUBA certified CCE Marine Program staff in restoration sites in local estuaries.

These newly created “marine meadows” will serve as important marine habitat for many species of finfish and shellfish such as striped bass and bay scallops.

To date, CCE and various partners have facilitated 19 workshops in which nearly 500 volunteers have come together to assemble over 52,000 shoots of eelgrass into the planting discs.

“We are thrilled to be able to assist Cornell’s team in restoring our bay’s most critical and most threatened marine habitat,” said Joe Tremblay. “This is an issue that many of our friends and neighbors feel strongly about, and it’s wonderful that we can give them an opportunity to get their hands wet and participate in a restoration.”

CCE will also host a Save Our Seagrass (SOS) fundraising celebration at the South Fork Natural History Museum (SOFO) in Bridgehampton on November 10. That benefit will directly help fund the Marine Meadows Program.

For details call the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Habitat Restoration Outreach Specialist, Kimberly Barbour, at 852-8660, ext. 27 or email her at kp237@cornell.edu.

Local Ice Cream Biz Sees Expansion

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By Claire Walla

When Joe and Liza Tremblay opened Bay Burger on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike in 2007, they knew they wouldn’t just be flipping burgers.

From the get-go, the Tremblay’s launched Joe and Liza’s Ice Cream alongside the burger business, dolling out scoops of sweet cream as well as burgers and fries. A winning combination, some sweet/salty connoisseurs might say. The only problem?


“We were trying to manufacture the ice cream in the restaurant,” Joe Tremblay explained.

As it currently stands, the ice cream is whipped up in the same kitchen space used for cooking the beef patties. Tremblay said they’ve been able to serve up enough ice cream to order, but the relatively small kitchen space has prevented the ice cream chain from expanding — wholesale had always been their goal.

“In the summer, the ice cream would get put on the back burner” — so to speak — “and we could only serve a certain count,” Tremblay continued. “The next thing we know, we have a line out the door, and we’re in the kitchen as they’re preparing the burgers!”

This clash of culinary tastes will finally be mitigated this year, as the Tremblay’s have finalized a lease on a new kitchen space right on the turnpike, where they will relocate their ice cream business and focus on expanding for the wholesale market.

“We’d like to really give the ice cream a real go on its own,” Tremblay continued.

Currently sold in the standard variety, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, the Tremblays also sell more adventurous flavors like pistachio and “cookie jar.” The Tremblays won’t go into details on intended plans for the future, other than they’d like to get their product into markets and restaurants out here on the East End.

While Joe and Liza’s Ice Cream will get a kitchen all its own, it won’t be moving very far. The space in question is a former garage on the Sag Harbor Industries site on the turnpike — right next to Bay Burger.

“The summer is such a scramble,” Tremblay continued. “It just wasn’t getting anywhere trying to [make ice cream] out of the restaurant.”

According to Tremblay, the new facility — which has been permitted by Southampton Town — should be up and running in another few weeks.

Considering the prospect of giving the ice cream biz room to grow, as well as its proximity to Bay Burger, Tremblay said of the move: “It’s going to be perfect.”

Kayakers Rescued By Cops

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By Claire Walla

When they set out in their kayaks in the early morning hours of Saturday, October 29, the weather wasn’t exactly perfect. But, it certainly wasn’t as bad as it eventually became.

October 29 marked the day of that freak fall snowstorm, which blanketed much of New York and Connecticut with snow. While the East End was relatively spared from snow, the storm did bring lots of rain and managed to stir up some dicey conditions.

It was around 7 a.m. when Sag Harbor residents Mike and Joe Tremblay and their friend John Larmor of Hampton Bays found themselves in choppy waters off Haven’s Beach in Sag Harbor Bay.

“When a Nor’easter blows in, you can check your iPhone all day [for weather conditions], but it can be unpredictable,” Larmor said in an interview.

High winds had blown thick cloud cover over the water, making it difficult to navigate. According to Larmor, the boaters were somewhere in the middle of the bay when conditions really turned and the double kayak shared by Larmor’s friends was suddenly inundated by water and beginning to sink.

That’s when they called police.

Sag Harbor Village Police officers, along with Harbor Master Bob Bori, got into a rescue craft and headed out to the kayakers.

“They got there pretty quickly,” Larmor said. “At first they couldn’t really see us [because of the fog],” he continued, but after trying to steer police in the right direction via cell phone, Larmor said everyone was located and brought back to the Long Wharf transient dock within roughly 15 minutes.

Though ambulance crews greeted the trio on shore, Larmor said it was just procedural: no one had sustained any serious injury.

“Anyone in a small craft in cold water has to be careful,” Larmor added. “It can be very unpredictable out there. In the course of just a few hours conditions can totally shift, and you can be totally unprepared for [what the weather might bring].”

You, Too, Can Be an Oyster Farmer

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web SagOysterPhoto

By Kathryn G. Menu

Bob Donelly loves all kinds of shellfish, except oysters. To eat, that is.

Donelly is one of over three dozen Sag Harbor residents who have found joy, a connection to the ecology of the Peconic Estuary, and sometimes, culinary delights through the Sag Harbor Oyster Club, which is about to embark on its second year.

“I am going to see if I learn to love them,” said Donelly this week.

Joe Tremblay, co-owner of the Bay Burger restaurant, founded the Sag Harbor Oyster Club last year in an effort to increase awareness about the fragility of the Peconic Estuary, improve the water quality of Sag Harbor Cove and bring community members together. This year, the club aims to increase its membership of residents with access to waterfront properties wishing to tend to their own oyster crop, as well as members of the larger community through a Sag Harbor Community Oyster Garden, which the club hopes to create across from Short Beach on the edge of Bay Point.

Tremblay was drawn to the project after spending summers on his father-in-law’s property on the Cove. An avid fisherman, Tremblay often heard stories of what the Cove used to be like, and the shellfish it boasted, all the while watching as the water grew murky each summer season.

“There was no eel grass, no scallops and we had coffee brown water sometimes,” said Tremblay. “I figured if I could get a lot of people focused on this one thing, we could see a difference.”

With the help of the Cornell Cooperative’s Southold Project on Aquaculture Training (SPAT), Tremblay began the Sag Harbor Oyster Club, using the same principals and goals of SPAT as its mission.

“The goal of the program is to help reseed the bays with shellfish and improve water quality,” he said. “But it is also really about getting people involved with the water and making them caretakers, stakeholders of the water we live on.”

Last year, through fliers and word-of-mouth, Tremblay was able to assemble 40 residents, primarily from Sag Harbor Cove, all who through SPAT were able to seed 1000 oysters off their properties. The dues, which include the seedlings, gear and a monthly lecture series, is $250 for the first year, $150 for subsequent years.

“And you get to keep the oysters,” said Tremblay.

Donelly obviously didn’t get involved for the oysters. Rather, it was because he wanted to do something for the ecology of the Cove and meet his neighbors in an engaged and active way.

“I am proud to say most of them made it through the winter,” he said of his seedlings. “So we will have lots of friends when it comes time to give them away.”

“The great thing about oysters is they are the vacuum cleaner of the sea and so when oysters thrive, it improves all the other species, the grasses – everything can come back,” he continued. “I think this is a fabulous first step in terms of improving the water quality of Sag Harbor Cove.”

Donelly’s six grandchildren have even gotten in on the action.

“We have a gaggle of them every weekend, sometimes longer, and a great part of the fun of this is being able to put in crab traps with them, check them, go out onto Sag Harbor Cove where we have our special places for clams, which of course I will never tell you about,” he said. “It’s all a part of the delight – seeing the kids learning about all of this and watching them come to appreciate it.”

Larry Bayes has also shared his knowledge, through the club, with his grandchildren. The Morris Cove resident, said it was exciting to have them involved in the process, and that he felt it taught them a lot. Unlike Donelly, he also has delighted in the culinary fruits of his labor, which he admits has sometimes been “a lot of work and a pain in the neck.”

“Joe said to me, take some out for Thanksgiving,” he said. “So I took out 26 and they were delicious.”

Phil Bucking, Jr., who is also a member with his wife Diane, said his crop has grown well over the course of the last year and said there was no question he would sign up again this year.

“They started out the size of a nickel, and now I probably have several oysters that are three inches across, with fat bellies,” he said.

For Bucking, a son of Sag Harbor who grew up clamming with his baymen uncles, it is nice to see shellfish reintroduced to the Cove.

“Before I can even remember, there used to be a lot of oysters in Sag Harbor,” he said. “it is nice to see us reintroducing them to the area.”

This year, Tremblay expects two-thirds of the membership to continue with the program, seeding another 1000 oysters off their properties. Tremblay has also hooked up with the Southampton Town Trustees and SPAT in the development of a Sag Harbor Community Oyster Garden across from Short Beach, modeled after another successful trustee shellfish garden in Tiana Bay in Hampton Bays.

In its pilot year, the community garden will be limited to 15 people, at a cost of $200 per person for membership. Tremblay said town trustees have already filed paperwork with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and that SPAT is prepared to set up the infrastructure for the community garden.

In addition to having community garden members plant oyster seedlings in the garden, the hope is those with access to excess oysters will add to the abundance by releasing them in the community garden. By the end of this year, Tremblay expects the club’s private membership will boast between 50,000 to 75,000 oysters and if even half of that is seeded in the community garden before they spawn in the fall, the result could be in the millions.

“We wanted to create a place for people without waterfront access,” said Tremblay. “This way, for example, if you live across the street from Bay Burger, you can still get involved if you want to.” 

Greening Our World, One Oyster at a Time

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From the victory garden at the White House to the oyster club of Sag Harbor, it seems we are living in the DIY, or “Do It Yourself,” era; and that’s a very good thing. For far too long, we Americans have relied on commercial grocery stores to ship in our food from thousands of miles away. We have opted for artificially fertilized emerald green lawns at the expense of our local water bodies.

All the while, we gave little thought to the environmental repercussions of our consumer lifestyle. And now, as these realities begin to smack us in the face through weakened eco-systems and global warming, people often feel the problems plaguing Mother Nature are far too intricate to confront as individuals.

But this excuse is merely a cop-out to continue under the status quo. (Though we have all been guilty of using this excuse at one time or another.)

It warms our hearts to see local individuals like Joe Tremblay enact grassroots changes instead of waiting for local governments to intercede. Tremblay seems to understand that local governments are bound by so much red tape it can take them months, if not years, to establish effective environmental policies. For Tremblay, though, all he has to do is fill a cage with oyster seeds, check on it once in a while and later reap the rewards of an oyster feast while also helping to purify the waters of Sag Harbor Cove.

Tremblay’s ideology of engaging people with their environment by not only creating incentive but also showing them how they can effect change and get back to basics is a sure recipe to create a more sustainable Sag Harbor.

Tremblay’s work shows that to be an environmentally conscious citizen you don’t need to spearhead a campaign or only purchase eco-friendly products and organic food, which can often be expensive. It can be as simple as riding your bike into the village instead of driving, picking up garbage you see on the beach or planting tomatoes in your garden.

If each citizen acted a little more conscientiously, we might be surprised how quickly Mother Nature could turn around. 

The Oyster Club Comes to Sag Harbor

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When summer wanes and the winter chill sets in, Bay Burger proprietor Joe Tremblay always finds he has more time on his hands. Instead of spending these months unwinding, though, Tremblay can be found researching eco-friendly septic tanks, participating in 725 GREEN meetings or visiting up-island waste management sites.
Now, with help from the Cornell Cooperative’s Southold Project on Aquaculture Training (SPAT), Tremblay is starting an Oyster Club for waterfront property owners on Sag Harbor Cove in the hopes of helping them farm their own oysters. The club isn’t solely focused on the culinary aspect of raising and feasting upon this shellfish delicacy. Tremblay hopes the group will change residents’ attitudes toward the Peconic Estuary.
“I think this is a great way to engage waterfront property owners in the water that they live on,” opined Tremblay. “The water is degraded because everyone is polluting it just a little bit, so we can only fix the problem by having everyone work on it.”
“If I can get the majority of waterfront homeowners ‘tending a garden’ in the cove or eating seafood from the cove, then it’s in their own personal best interest to care about how they and their neighbors might negatively impact the cove,” added Tremblay.
East End waters are subject to a host of environmental problems, said Tremblay, including the recent brown tides. Everything from lawn pesticides to storm water runoff can harm the delicate ecosystem of the cove. Tremblay says these problems may be to blame for the water’s murky quality in the summer and a substantial loss of eelgrass, which shellfish like scallops depend on for their survival.
Will Kirchoff, who attended the club’s introductory meeting at Bay Burger on Sunday, May 3, noted that water quality has drastically declined since his youth.
“I remember as a kid coming out here and the water was crystal clear. You could see eight feet down, even in the summer,” Kirchoff remembers. “We need to try and bring the harbor back … a lot of people are taking this beauty for granted but we can’t just take, take, take.”
Revitalizing the oyster population is one piece, albeit an important one, in the puzzle of clarifying the cove’s waters. Because oysters are filter feeders, they often digest pollutants and thus help purify the water. Kim Tetrault, who runs the Southold Cooperative, told Tremblay that all the water in the Chesapeake Bay was filtered through the guts of oysters at least once a day when the estuary was at its peak, but it now takes almost 135 days for the water to be fully filtered. The depopulation of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, as well as in Sag Harbor Cove, can be attributed in part to over harvesting. Tremblay said sightings of wild oysters in the cove today is a rarity akin to spotting a whale from the beach.
With the support of the Oyster Club’s 22 members, Tremblay hopes to reverse this trend. Each member will receive 1,000 seed oysters. The gear, mainly consisting of a cage to house the oysters, the necessary training and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation permits are all included in the annual dues: $250 for the first year and $150 each additional year.
These oyster-growing accoutrements are all provided by SPAT, though Tremblay has offered to make a run up to Southold and pick up gear and oyster seeds for everyone involved. For now, the DEC is issuing permits only to waterfront property owners. Members without access to the water can harvest their oysters at the Southold station. A few cove property owners have stepped forward and will allow members to attach oyster cages to their docks. Tremblay said members should expect to yield between 75 to 80 percent of their total seed, which translates into a sizable number of oysters.
Tremblay maintains, however, that most members aren’t joining for the pleasure of noshing on the fruits of their labor. He referenced a survey conducted by SPAT which noted, on average, that eating oysters was only the eighth most popular reason to join the cooperative.
“I actually don’t eat oysters,” said Kirchoff at the meeting on Sunday. “I wanted to help the local environment.”
Southampton Town also jumped on this initiative and will allow 40 town residents to place oyster cages off a dock in Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays.
Tremblay’s club will host monthly educational lectures, including “Water Quality, Brown Tides and Harmful Algae” in July and “Configuring and Maintaining Oyster Gardens” in June. On Sunday, members asked questions on how to open oysters. Tremblay said a cooking class could be scheduled down the line and hosted at his restaurant.
In the upcoming summer months, as the club learns to deep fry these shellfish treats or winterize their oyster garden, Tremblay hopes the group will have a positive impact on the local environment.
“This kind of environmentalism speaks to me,” he said. “You can see results in my lifetime. If we can act locally and improve water quality in Sag Harbor Cove, then maybe other sub-estuaries will see us as a model.”