“Everybody is so excited they are opened,” a customer exclaimed as came through the doors of the new Schmidt’s Country Market in Quogue, already bustling with hungry patrons just hours after opening Friday.
After losing its 43-year home in Southampton Village in October, the much-loved grocery, deli and catering business has found a new one at 147 Quogue Street, a space that had housed the Quogue Village Market.
Mayor Robert Treuhold reached out to Schmidt four months ago after reading that Schmidt lost its lease in Southampton and asked him to consider taking over the space, across from the Village Green and surrounded by a row of small village shops.
Schmidt, whose father Dennis Schmidt started the business, spent three months renovating the interior space, which had been set up more as a grocery store, so that it has room to offer everything Schmidt’s is known for from its deli with both hot and cold food and sandwiches to fresh produce and coffee.
“A lot of sleepless nights, but it all came together,” he said.
Schmidt’s opened at 5 a.m. on Friday and by 11:30, a large number of his customers from Southampton made the trek west.
“They miss the food — the love that’s put into that food that’s over there,” Schmidt said. “A lot of people made their way just to get egg sandwiches. . . ”
As if on cue, a woman leaving the store yelled out, “It looks great. I’m so happy to get my chicken salad back!”
“I’m so excited!” another woman said as she hurried in, as Schmidt opened the door and gave everyone a hardy, “Welcome.”
“The town is hopping!” another woman said.
While most customers were coming and going, there is seating available. There is counter seating by the window overlooking the village’s main drag, and several tables and chairs inside and two sets right outside. Plus, across the street, at the Village Green, there are picnic tables.
Schmidt plans to have the store open seven days a week, from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. He is hoping to pick up some traffic from the early morning tradespeople, but if not he will open at 6 a.m.
Schmidt’s will be open year-round “and do what we have to do for the community.”
All of the employees except two additions, including a woman who lives around the corner, worked for him in Southampton. Schmidt also hired a chef who will do catering and dinner parties.
Schmidt said he is thankful for the turnout and support. The mayor has been in almost every day checking in on their progress. “He’s the nicest guy. He just comes over to say hi,” Schmidt said.
“I want to help all the businesses here. I know they are open for a reason, but if I can bring more business and help them all out” it’s a win-win, he said.
A Hampton Bays resident, he said he is also thankful for the better commute than when he was traveling to Southampton Village.
He has a five-year lease on the new home, with a 10-year extension, if he chooses.