Patchogue Village

Drift 82 owners continue pitch to keep summer tent

Planning board refers application to zoning board to resolve parking issues


Since the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020, many local businesses have been permitted to utilize outdoor space under temporary structures to offset the loss of indoor business and allow diners a safe space to patron their businesses. However, due to what the Village of Patchogue building inspector deemed as the unsafe nature of temporary structures, or tents, the village has decided to reconsider their permitting for such structures on a more permanent basis. 

In response, back in November of last year, Anthony Yanotti, general manager of Drift 82 located at 82 Brightwood Street in Patchogue, requested permission to reobtain a six-month seasonal tent permit for a 40-by-50 dining tent to be in the parking lot, with valet parking. At the Jan. 24 planning board meeting, the request for the tent was reconsidered. 

According to Drift 82 owner John Sarno, who also owns multiple local restaurants, he intends on utilizing the tent solely for the summer months to help generate money for the business. The tent is used for regular dining as well as catering for special events, like weddings and retirement parties. When a party is being hosted, the regular restaurant is closed to the public.
“Keeping the tent up during our busy months is vital to our success and customers’ enjoyment,” he said during the Nov. 22 planning board public hearing. “We will make any changes that allows us to keep the tent up next year.”

Peter Sarich, village building inspector, explained that Drift 82 is the only restaurant requesting to renew their outdoor tent for the summer of 2023 as of right now. Another local restaurant, the Taproom, is also among one of the spots that had enjoyed the utilization of a long-term temporary structure. Owner James Bonanno said they have since taken down their structure, and next summer, if they are allowed to put it back up, they would, but if not, they wouldn’t ask for it. The Oar, Off Key Tikki, and Lombardi’s also utilized tents, while places like the Blue Point Brewery often put up and take down temporary tents for each one of their special events.

However, according to Sarich, he and the fire marshal are concerned about the safety of temporary structures, especially on the water. The village’s intention was to only allow the structures during the COVID closures and will now be cracking down on having them removed at all village establishments.

“Tents can be dangerous,” he said, referencing the possibility of lightning strike and high winds. He also mentioned the need for inspections to adhere to safety regulations, including weather rating. The Great South Music Bay Festival, for example, requires a lot of strategic planning and evacuations to ensure the safety of festivalgoers, he said.

“There is a serious concern of life and fire safety. The use of tents, long term, was not intended to replace traditional building,” reads part of the letter Sarich and the fire marshal submitted.

However, despite concerns, no injuries have been reported due to a tent, locally.

There is a statewide fire code that regulates tents, which allows them to be in place for a maximum of 180 days. Local municipalities can be stricter than the state fire code, but not more lenient.

In the Town of Brookhaven, for comparison, their fire marshal requires an inspection for any tent larger than 400 square feet, which looks at wind resistance, snow loads, tie-downs, and other means to keep the structure in place and prevent it from collapsing and injuring people. Brookhaven requires that an engineer from the tent company be on-site during the inspection and for any other periodic inspections if the tent is to be in place for a long period of time.

According to town officials, outside of fire marshal inspections, other things that may affect placement of tents on commercial property could include site-plan issues, minimum parking requirements, and other factors that may impact surrounding areas.

Though Drift 82 has been issued no summons or code violation tickets, the planning board is currently deliberating the possibility of allowing summer permitting for the tent. Aside from the safety issues, they were also concerned with parking, being that the restaurant utilizes part of its parking lot for the tent and dining.

The parking issue, according to Sarno, has been solved with the utilization of the nearby town-owned lot, in which residents and non-residents are able to pay to park. Sarno has also implemented a complimentary valet service as well as entered an agreement with the local boatyard for parking throughout the summer months. He has since submitted a letter from the town allowing them use of the neighboring lot, as well as other documentation of occupancy and plans for storms. He also promised to remove the tent anytime a big storm or hurricane is expected.

However, according to the planning board, the issue has to be referred to the zoning board for approvals. After the zoning board makes a determination, according to planning chairman John Rocco, the application can then be decided on with the planning board.

Sarno questioned the decision, asking if Blue Point Brewery is under the same requirements when they utilize tents in their parking lots weeks at a time. Though not under his qualifications, Rocco assured Sarno the brewery was under the same requirements; however, they submit a different special requests application to the village board of trustees. The planning board, he said, has not heard their requests.


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