The Time of Northport

By Arlene Gross

Batata Café at 847 Fort Salonga Road has also evolved, from Barrister's Coffee & Tea Company, a 25-year-old establishment owned by Nick Nappy. In August 2005, his daughter Nicole Nappy took over as owner and manager and renamed it Batata, which means sweet potato in Spanish. Following the café's new motto from a Virginia Woolf quote: "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well," Nicole Nappy had a kitchen built and added a lunch menu specializing in paninis. Two months later, they rolled out the breakfast service with their now locally-famous breakfast burritos.

Batata prides itself in its rotating art exhibit, changing every four to five months, which Nappy set in motion when she took over. She takes a 20 percent commission on sales and reported having sold about 10 paintings since opening. All artists are local to Long Island or New York City. Now showing are acrylic and oil paintings by Eti Grifel of Brooklyn, collages by Glenn Fischer of the Bronx and mosaics by Rachel Lucas.

Lucas, who grew up in Northport, has known the Nappy family for many years. "Nicole approached me to do a permanent mosaic installation, with the interest of bringing a colorful artistic element to her new store design," she said. "She was very open to giving me full control of the project, which is great as an artist, especially when working with mosaics as it allows you to be more whimsical and not rigid with the design."

She continued, "Nicole's intention for her café is about creating a community involved in the arts, music and socializing and using food as a form to bring people together."

When it comes to music, Nicole appears to be following in her father's footsteps. Nick held open mic nights from 1998 to 2001 and had a grand piano. "It got to be too much for me," he said.

In its current incarnation, Batata hosts open mics on Fridays. The next one is slated for February 16. "The music kind of developed over time," Nicole Nappy said. "I'd like to expand it more." She said that after Batata gets its liquor license to serve beer and wine, the hours and music will be extended. In the meantime, Batata has already attracted several regular musicians to its open mic nights.

Paul Duggan, of Northport, who is a regular and the café's assistant manager, said, "Where there's somewhere to perform, we'll play there. It's a nice receptive audience – no hecklers. A lot of people from around here like to see people perform."

Nappy said, "I do it because I love live music and I love art. It brings decor to the café and if I could help artists, I'm happy to do so."

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