Owners of Firehouse Restaurant & Bar in Sound Beach – Named in Memory of FDNY Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo – Say They Plan to Open in November

Update: The owners are now looking for staff!! Full-time and part-time for the following are needed: Bartenders, Barbacks, Servers, Bussers, Runners, Hostess, Line cooks, and Dishwashers. Serious applicants only. References required Anyone interested in applying please email: [email protected] for more info.

If all goes well, Firehouse Restaurant & Bar will be open in November.

It’s been a long time coming for the DiBernardo family who purchased the business at 30 New York Avenue in Sound Beach over two-and-a-half years ago. It used to be the Hartlin Inn, a beloved institution in the neighborhood until the former owners called it quits after the pandemic.

The DiBernardo family is in the middle of a complete renovation and adding on to the building where it had been lacking before, renaming it to honor their son and brother, an FDNY firefighter who died as of a result of injuries sustained on the fateful day back in 2005, known to many as Black Sunday in the department.

Firehouse Restaurant & Bar’s Namesake

Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo was known for many things but what his parents recalled most vividly were his love of cooking and a love of the fire department. A firefighter in the FDNY and a Setauket volunteer on Long Island, DiBernardo seemed to feel most at home in the firehouse.

“He would always say, ‘I’m going to the firehouse,’” said his mother, Barbara, in an interview with LongIslandRestaurants.com. “It could have been Setauket or going to work.”

It didn’t matter which, if you were looking for him, he was probably at one firehouse or the other.

“It was his most favorite place in the world,” added his father, also named Joseph.

Mr. DiBernardo was also a fireman in the FDNY who retired after 35 years as Deputy Chief Division 6 Commander. He joined the FDNY soon after returning home from the Vietnam War in 1966.

“I loved every minute of it,” he said.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Joey DiBernardo became a New York City fireman in 1995 and served in Rescue Company 3 in the Bronx, which is where he was on January 23, 2005 when a fire ripped through a tenement building in the borough. Trapped four flights up with five of his fellow firefighters, the men were forced to jump when fire flashed through an apartment door. Tragically two of the men died at the scene; the other four, including Joey, were severely injured.

Six years later, Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo died from injuries sustained that day on November 22, 2011.

Food & Firemen

There are two sayings that Mr. DiBernardo says firemen love to hear the most. The first is “we got a job,” meaning there’s a call. The other?

“Chow’s on!” says Mr. DiBernardo.

While traditionally, people know firemen for their heroic duties, they’re also known for their skill in the kitchen.

“Joey was a great chef,” Mr. DiBernardo said, noting that his own father, Joey’s grandfather, was also a good cook. Mr. DiBernardo, not so much.

“It skipped me,” he said with a laugh.

This was part of the inspiration to purchase the Hartlin Inn when it came up for sale – the other was to preserve a historic place in the hamlet and the family has spent a lot of time and effort to bring things up to snuff at the old place.

Making Firehouse Restaurant Accessible

The family could have just stuck with the original code for the building and called it a day: one bathroom for the entire place and not handicapped accessible either. But they could not in good conscience open up without modernizing a few things, especially expanding the bathrooms and making them accessible, since their own son was wheelchair-bound for months after the incident and then walked with a cane. Eventually Joey was able to walk on his own but always in pain. So they’re building out two bathrooms (a mens and a ladies room) and both can be navigated by wheelchair.

“We could have been grandfathered in,” said Joey’s mother. But they chose to make it right.

There’s also a ramp to the front entrance, a new facade, new windows and a bright red door that all come together to make the place look like the front of a firehouse – Joey’s favorite place to be.

Inside will be decorated with firefighter memorabilia honoring Joey and his service.

And then there’s the menu, which is still a work in progress but they know what they want. The idea is to be a homestyle restaurant similar to what Hartlin Inn used to be.

The family is interviewing chefs and making sure they get that just right as well. 

“Firehouse type cooking,” said Mr. DiBernardo.

Planning to Open in November 2023

It’s been a long road but the family is heartened that they see a light at the end of the tunnel, expecting it to open sometime in November. For the family, the Firehouse Restaurant & Bar will be – like Joey in his firehouses – like a second home, where you can usually find them.

Mrs. DiBernardo probably won’t hang up her apron for good but she might be tempted to once they finally throw open the big red doors to customers.

“I said to Joe, ‘I don’t want to cook anymore,’” she joked. “Let’s buy The Hartlin Inn.”

The DiBernardo family also has a charity dedicated in the memory of their son called “The Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation,” started to help train and equip firefighters in need. On January 23, 2005, Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo and his fellow firefighters were stuck without a vital piece of equipment that might have helped save their lives. Go to: www.joeydfoundation.org to see how you can help in their mission.

📷 Lon S. Cohen.

See some more photos below:

Firehouse Restaurant Sound Beach

Firehouse Restaurant Sound Beach

Firehouse Restaurant Sound Beach

Firehouse Restaurant Sound Beach

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