After more than 13 years straight of flourishing business, the Trackside Cafe at the Speonk Long Island Rail Road stop is officially closed. When the previous tenant, local restaurateur and real estate agent Robert Nidzyn, died in March at the age of 61, the restaurant passed into his family’s care. They have since closed the cafe, placing the property back into the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s possession.
According to MTA Deputy Communications Director Aaron Donovan, the MTA issued a request for applications and proposals for the Trackside Cafe property due on October 30. Since then, officials have been reviewing the applications for a recommendation to the MTA Board, which will approve or deny the proposed new tenants. It is unclear when that process will finish.
A note posted to the front door, addressed to “Trackside fans,” expresses the family’s sadness at leaving Mr. Nidzyn’s business behind. “The family and staff of Trackside Cafe wish to thank you all for your patronage and friendship over the last 11-plus years,” it reads. “We are all saddened to be closing this little cafe that has been part of our lives and will always be in our hearts.
“We hope one day soon, someone will reopen here and it will once again be a place for people to sit, talk and enjoy wonderful food and friendship,” it concludes, signed from the family and staff of Trackside Cafe.
Mr. Nidzyn’s other restaurant, Scales and Tales, a seafood market in Speonk that he opened in 1989, also appears to be closed.
The Trackside Cafe was originally opened by Dell Donovan in 1958, but was taken over by Mr. Nidzyn in 2003 after the property had fallen into disrepair after a 2001 closing. Mr. Nidzyn infused the cafe with new recipes and nostalgic train paraphernalia, maintaining a strong regular customer base and popularity with the locals.
Trackside Cafe’s Facebook page is littered with five-star reviews, a testament to the restaurant’s success under Mr. Nidzyn’s leadership.
One fan, Randy Trezak, left one of these glowing reviews in August 2015. “My son and I eat here frequently,” he wrote. “It’s a tiny little cafe but retains the charm of the old Speonk railroad station (versus the austere and barren actual Speonk station across the street).
“Our breakfast was delicious with generous portions and owner and staff were very polite and friendly,” he added.
The most recent review succinctly captures the mood of Trackside fans now, as their beloved Speonk institution stands shuttered. “I loved this place,” wrote Kevin Loiacono of East Moriches on September 30. “But I found out today that they closed,” he added, leaving a sad face emoji as a coda.