It’s a lot like watching a kid give a tour of his own personal candy store.
Blue Point restaurateur Justin Tempelman can hardly contain his exuberance as he sweeps from room to room in his latest creation, JT’s Farmhouse inside the former Grey Horse Tavern on Bayport Avenue.
Exhibit A: The lounge area’s 100-year-old, giant-sized wooden table. Tempelman expects this piece of furniture, with its bold thickness and distressed look, will be a magnet for customers when the eatery opens later this month.
“This is going to be that table,” Tempelman, 45, said, patting the table top and giving particular emphasis to the word that. “Everyone is going to want to sit here.”
The bar and its “awesome” 22 beer taps serve as Exhibit B. Tempelman’s gorgeous Bayport Heritage Room creation is Exhibit C.
“This place has been the apple of my eye — the object of my affection — for a long time,” said Tempelman, who also owns the immensely popular JT’s on the Bay and JT’s Café, both in Blue Point. “And I love this neighborhood. My kids go to school here. I feel like I’m a big part of this community.”
Tempelman, teaming up on the JT’s Farmhouse endeavor with Blue Point Brewing Co. co-founder Peter Cotter (who will govern the tap line selections), even gushed a bit over the 100 aged, wooden dining room chairs that he and his team of partners reupholstered themselves.
“This is an authentic farmhouse. You can’t bring new furniture into a 150-year-old building,” he said, pointing to a couple of dents in the leg of one of the chairs. “It would just look weird. The chairs need to be a little dinged-up.”
Tempelman, who is shooting for a Thanksgiving eve opening, has done a masterful job blending the farmhouse’s battle scars with carefully chosen improvements that include a raised stage for live band performances, the brightened aesthetics of the wrap-around porch, a redesigned lounge area, and two completely renovated spaces devoted to the history of Bayport and the rich story of the farmhouse.
The married father of three children, a chef by trade who studied at Johnson & Wales University, said his personality has been injected into every room.
“As the project manager, I’m the designer. I’m behind every color, every piece of furniture, every piece of decoration,” Tempelman said. “Anyone who truly knows me is going to say ‘This is so JT’ when they come in here.”
Back in July when they bought the shuttered Grey Horse Tavern at 291 Bayport Ave. from Linda Ringhouse and Irene Dougal, the goal was to turn the landmark building — one of Long Island’s longest-running watering holes — into a community gathering place for families, couples and your standard camaraderie.
Lunch and dinner will be served at JT’s Farmhouse seven days a week. The kitchen — led by Executive Chef Shane LeBlanc, a JT’s Farmhouse partner who most recently served as executive chef at the Park Avenue Tavern in New York City — will also be humming for Saturday and Sunday brunch. Tempelman said he will release the menu in the coming days.
And about the kitchen: It’s no surprise that Tempelman can’t wait to show it off.
“The kitchen floors will be coated with poured expoxy (paint). The base coat is black, and then it will have liquid copper on top. It’s going to look awesome,” he said. “This kitchen is going to be a showplace when it’s done. I’ll have no problem walking any customer or client through my kitchen.”