Life on Long Island
Hanging out at the Kismet Inn
When it comes to nightlife and good times on the Island, deciding where to go often involves a search for “what’s new” or “what’s hot” -- with many bars, clubs and restaurants arriving with a flourish then fading away within a few years of opening.
Then again, among the hundreds of spots that have come and gone, there are a few that seem to have “always” been there, surviving for not just years or decades but generations – and among those hearty hangouts The Kismet Inn is certainly an establishment that has proved to have staying power.
According to ownership, the inn has a history that dates back to the 1920s, with the most major wrinkle since its inception being a slight shift in location (only in feet, due to the demise of the original building during the “Hurricane of ‘38”). It has remained a popular summer stop throughout, drawing Kismet locals and Fire Islanders from other hamlets, as well as day-trippers that come and go daily on the ferries.
As mentioned before, most places that offer food, drink and fun tend to evolve; the general practice of making frequent changes to menus, decor and structure are often vital to keep from either losing business or gaining a reputation as uninteresting. But just as there are people who need flash and pomp to have fun, others look for a classic – even historical – personality in their pubs. If you fall under the latter grouping, The Kismet Inn is very worthy of a visit.
The walls hold several black and white photos of captured moments from Fire Island’s history – as well as a large collection of various fish replicas ranging in size and breed. The tap counter is a lengthy, rounded, long-lived ligneous stretch that follows the room’s L-shaped dimension, and physically matches the house tables and chairs -- also made of wood and plainly built some time ago. Other amenities include a pool table, a jukebox and a working Skee-ball machine – and although its health merits are obviously not likely to find modern endorsement, there is a cigarette vending machine, worthy of note solely due to the fact that these contraptions were once as commonly found as beer and French fries (but barely today since indoor smoking was banned during the past decade). In fact, if it weren't for the flat screen TVs that hang behind the bar, a night here could easily make it seem as if you've been transported to the FILI (“Fire Island, Long Island”) bar scene of 30-40 years ago.
But perhaps, of all the things in the Kismet Inn that demonstrate its place among the area’s social history, the most interesting item is the owner himself, Larry Cole. He can be found in-house, and having a conversation with the man reveals his great deal of knowledge concerning what has transpired in Kismet since his affiliation with the inn back in the 1950s. Cole has an incredible memory – noting customers, events and happenings from years past, he can serve up detailed anecdotes about his business and experiences that are worth every word.
The Kismet Inn is open from April-November, opens daily at noon and also serves a full menu of American food. Expect live music on most nights; for more information call 631‐583‐5592 or visit online at thekismetinn.com.
The Kismet Inn: 1 Oak St., Kismet, 631‐583‐5592