For restaurant owner Chris Blumlo, restaurants and the sea are in his blood. After working in the food business for most of his life, he is now combining the two.
Butler’s Flat, a new clam shack on Orchard Beach Boulevard, is a project that was long in the making for Blumlo. The new eatery is named after the lighthouse at the end of his grandmother’s street in Bedford, Massachusetts, which Blumlo fondly recalls from his youth.
“The name is a nod to back home,” he said.
The clam shack is perched alongside the water at the . A frequent fisher there, Blumlo loved the property. Once the spot became available, Blumlo saw a perfect fit.
“It’s a beautiful location,” he said. “And the perfect size.”
The idea of opening a clam shack resonated with Blumlo, he said, because it harkens back to his New England upbringing.
Butler’s Flat is not Blumlo’s first restaurant endeavor. He headed up food services at Shea Stadium for seven years, and, though he didn’t stay when it changed to Citi Field, he did help develop the food and beverage plans for the new stadium.
“It was always a dream of mine to open a restaurant of my own,” he said.
And he did.
In June 2008, he was a driving force in launching TriBeCa-based fine-dining restaurant Marc Forgione, which earned two stars from the New York Times and one Michelin star two years in a row. Forgione has competed on Food Network's "Iron Chef America."
But you don't have to be a Food Network star to know that the restaurant business can be tough.
“It’s been challenging,” Blumlo noted. “But I’ve been very blessed in the city.”
Still, Blumlo felt driven by the quest to to expand his repertoire with a concept close to his heart.
“I’m passionate about restaurants,” he said. “But I’m equally as passionate about the water and seafood.”
On the menu, appetizers start at $4 for stuffed quahog, and go as high as $10 for fried Ipswich clams; native oysters and littleneck clams are also available. Sandwhich choices start at $6 for a hot dog, and for $18 you can get a real taste of New England with a lobster roll. Seafood platters and a children's menu are also available.
The clam shack had a soft, residents-only opening several weeks ago, bootsting Blumlo's conficence about his bigger opening this weekend. He's found Port Washington to be extremely supportive so far, with people giving him compliments when they run into him anywhere in town.
“Most clam shacks around here come and go,” Blumlo said. “But we hope to stay. We hope to bring a great product to the community.”