In Greenport: A barista and a craftsman make art of beans and wood

Greenport Mayor David Nyce with the new bar he built at Aldo's this spring.
Greenport Mayor David Nyce with the new bar he built at Aldo’s this spring.

For the past year, Greenport’s iconic coffeemaker, Aldo Maiorana, and Greenport Mayor David Nyce have had a running joke in which the mayor, an accomplished furniture craftsman, said he should build Aldo a bar.

Last winter, the running joke evolved into a six-month series of conversations between Mr. Nyce, Aldo and Aldo’s girlfriend, Melanie Belkin, about exactly what kind of bar would fit the bill.

“Getting a direct response from Aldo is not very easy, which is fine, and getting a direct design from me is also not very easy because I want to know what I’m in for before I begin,” said Mr. Nyce.

Aldo Maiorana
Aldo Maiorana

Aldo, a passionate entrepreneurial dreamer who plays businessman only when necessary, wasn’t particularly forthcoming about the utilitarian functionality of the bar, but they both agreed to use butternut wood — a light walnut hardwood that is a favorite of woodworkers.

“Melanie made it work — she kept everything on track,” said Mr. Nyce. “I knew if she was involved she would help with the decision-making. She picked the paint colors and had a lot to do with where the lighting is — which is brilliant.”

The well-lit bar is backed by a plethora of red cabinetry, most of which still stand empty as Aldo contemplates the possibility of one day serving wine and beer.

“I’m in no hurry,” he said of selling alcohol alongside his biscotti and blue espresso cups. “I started the process for getting a wine and beer license three years ago, but I’ve also had no money, so I’m doing things a little at a time.”

To the mayor, the most important aspect of building Aldo’s new bar was that it not be band-aided into the building.

“It’s always been like, ‘Let’s put in lights’ and then there would be a new hole or extra wires,” Mr. Nyce said of previous improvement projects he’s done at Aldo’s. “So I told him we’re going to rip out anything that’s not necessary and replace it with new, so the wiring is going to come in where it should, as will the plumbing and all the rest.”

“I said to Aldo, ‘I will build you a bar, but I’m not going to be a general contractor. I will put together a team of people and you need to tell me what it is we need to do,’” said Mr. Nyce.

Aldo said Mr. Nyce’s perfectionist attitude is a partial reason he chose the mayor to build the bar.

“The man is a true artisan,” said Aldo. “He is not just a woodworker, he’s an artisan. He’s a little bit like me — he does things the way he wants to, when he can.”

Other than initial sketches, Mr. Nyce said he didn’t use any drawings to guide him as he built the bar. The project took a little more than a month, from start to finish.

“We had an agreed upon list of materials, paint colors and configurations of the bar in April,” said Mr. Nyce. “It was going to take a month and it took a little longer, but he had everything up and running by Memorial Day.”

“Houseworks in Greenport did the demo work and the painting,” he said. “Greenport Plumbing and Mattituck’s First Class Electric did the plumbing and electrical work. Southold Quarry did the stone top and I got the butternut wood from a supplier in Deer Park.”

The wood, Nyce said, came from a sample he’s been carrying around since the 1980s, when he said butternut was quite fashionable.

It was Aldo and Melanie’s first choice after Mr. Nyce easily swayed them from constructing the bar from old barn wood, their first choice.

“It’s generally very porous, which means it’s difficult to clean because it picks up dust and dirt, and it’s expensive,” said Nyce of barnwood. “After I talked them out of that, both Melanie and Aldo picked up the piece of butternut and said, ‘This is what we want.’”

Refrigerators and an espresso machine fit seamlessly into the bar's construction.
Refrigerators and an espresso machine fit seamlessly into the bar’s construction.

Aldo now has a new espresso machine to go with his new bar, the innards of which include a refrigerator, two sinks and an ice machine.

He needs only to stock his shelves with bottles of red and his coolers with bottles of white when and if he decides to add wine to his beverage menu.

“I’m about enjoyment, so if having a glass of wine would increase [a customer’s] enjoyment, then I want to be able to offer it to them,” he said.

Aldo is already several dreams ahead of customers who might want a little lunch to go with their scones and cappuccinos.

“He still talks about doing a small list of sandwiches,” said Mr. Nyce.

Photos by Gianna Volpe.

Gianna Volpe

Gianna Volpe is a multimedia reporter hailing from a little town along the Palisades of New Jersey. She loves goblin sharks, bioluminescence and throwing beached conchs back into the bay. She once high-fived a shark off of Montauk, and she eats her bay scallops raw.

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