Q: How did you become Innkeepers on the North Fork? LORRY: Over a bottle of wine in Ogunquit Maine. We have seven children between us, and getting married, and were looking to have a house of our own. I suggested a bed and breakfast. We didn’t want to live in Maine, because we didn’t want to be so far from our children.
Q: Yes, a Bed and Breakfast, why not? Had you ever done anything like that?
JERRY: Lorry has three sons; she had plenty of experience taking care of people! She’s a natural at hospitality. No, really, this was a first for us. She’s a landscape designer, and I publish a landscaping newspaper; New York Landscape Contractor. I still publish it.
LORRY: I still do a little bit of landscaping design work, but not much.
Q: Since you didn’t have any direct experience in the hospitality industry, were there any surprises?
LORRY: It’s more work than we expected, but I absolutely love it; I love people. I love bringing people together around the the breakfast table. I feel like we’ve created the “forgotten” dinner table that we all loved—one we shared stories over. People share parts of their lives, relationships are formed. From here in the kitchen I can get a feel for how it’s going at the table in the other room; I’m very aware of the dynamics of the three couples. If there’s an awkward pause, I send Jerry in to tell a joke or play the piano.
Q: You were in Maine when you decided on a B&B; how did you decide on the North Fork?
LORRY: Riverhead was attracting more and more vistors; the aquarium had opened, the North Fork was so beautiful, more vineyards had been established. I thought why not the North Fork?
JERRY: We love the North Fork because it’s more relaxed, it’s surrounded by water, the small town atmosphere of Cutchogue is on a much slower pace than the rest of Long Island. When we were looking for property, we wanted to be close to the wineries, but not on the Main Rd.
LORRY: And a place where our children could visit. We have seven kids and six grandkids between us. We bought the property and actually spent three years developing the landscape before we broke ground.
Q: Before you broke ground? Most B&Bs are converted or renovated classic homes.
JERRY: Our home was built to be a Bed and Breakfast from the ground up. That’s why we have all the modern amenities, and were able to put a fireplace and Jacuzzi tub in each room.
LORRY: When we bought the property it was a field of bramble, poison ivy, cedars, wild rose, other plants; when we cleared we transplanted over 150 cedars to the perimeters of the property to make privacy and make room for the footprint of the house. We tried not take down any of the trees.
JERRY: Hurricane Irene changed some of the landscape. We lost about 18 trees out front. Because we originally landscaped to incorporate the trees, we had to add some different varieites to replace those lost.
Q: How did your landscape design and industry experience affect how you designed this place?
LORRY: The most important thing to me, was how someone felt driving up the driveway; I wanted them to feel welcomed—of course it had to be beautiful, but foremost welcoming.
We placed some cedars to partially screen the house, so you could see it, but not fully until you were all the way up the driveway. It creates a little mystery, draws you in.
JERRY: Before we broke ground I came from Bayshore with my lawn mower to mow the lawn we had to establish after moving the cedars. I loved it, it was so peaceful. When we weren’t here the neighbors would come and picnic on the lawn. They said it was just like a park. We actually had installed the stone wall and the white fence out front before we broke ground. We added the shed out back before the house was completed and eventually a chicken coop with about 30 hens for fresh eggs.
Q: Did your landscape focus influence other aspects of the design?
JERRY : We created private patios and vignettes around the property so people could sit privately.
LORRY: and a wrap around porch too, with the big oversized rockers and a porch swing. It makes a comfortable spot to enjoy a morning cup of coffee or an occasional thunderstorm! We encourage our guests to enjoy the fire pit with comfortable Adirondack rockers in the evenings.
We plant and maintain everything on this property and use organic fertilizers. We try not to utilize any chemical products.
Q: So, when did you open? And, how did you choose the name Blue Iris?
JERRY: Our first weekend was Valentine’s Day 2003. After many lenghthy discussions we chose Blue Iris because Lorry and her father loved the Van Gogh iris paintings. He passed away before he ever got a chance to see our B & B and the name was her homage to him. Lorry actually placed a drumstick in each corner of the foundation as it was being poured and her father buried one someplace on the property earlier before we broke ground to ensure a part of him would always be present.
Q: That’s a beautiful tribute. But why a drumstick?
JERRY: Lorry's father was a big band drummer and a famous drum teacher on Long Island. He had his own band, the Howie Mann big band. Played all over the tri-state. He played with the Dorsey brothers, Elliot Lawrence in his younger years.
Q: That’s cool. We’ve chatted a lot about the property; but a key part of a Bed and Breakfast is breakfast. Who is the cook?
LORRY: We both cook. Jerry’s favorite is a Croques Madame--a slice of black olive bread, with prosciutto, cream sauce, fontina cheese, topped with egg.
JERRY: She makes a spectacular omelet.
LORRY: I like to use fresh herbs from our garden, our own fresh eggs and other local produce. I use a lot of roasted tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, as a garnish. I also make a great tort; it’s pastry wrapping two omelets with ham, cheese, vegetables.
Q: Lorry’s an unusual spelling; I’m more used to Lori or Laury. Is there a story behind the name?
LORRY: I was named after an actress at the time. All through school people called me Larry so as a little girl it was quite embarrassing, but now I like the unusual spelling.
Q: Anything quirky about you Jerry?
LORRY: Only his sense of humor! He does have an interesting hobby, though. Model trains in our private quarters entertain our grandchildren and guests when they show an interest.