“My grandparents opened The Derby in Bay Shore in the late 70s,” she said. “There’s pictures of me at the Derby on Santa’s lap.”
The Derby eventually became Finlay’s New York Tavern, a storefront bar on Bay Shore Road near Dairy City. There, loyal regulars stop in for a game of darts or pool, or just to hang out at the bar for beer and shots.
Chances are you’ve seen Shauna behind the bar; she’s worked there for years.
Shauna loves the vibe of a hometown dive.
“[Finlays] has been in our family for 40 years,” she said. “I love how an 80-year-old man can sit at the bar with a 22-year-old man and have something to talk about.”
That’s Shauna’s vision for the Drift Inn as well.
“I wanted a good spot with great food,” she said. “I’m happy if people come in for one drink or twenty, as long as you behave yourself.”
Having opened in late August, Drift Inn, located at 236 E Main St. in East Islip, is a collaborative project from Shauna Finlay, chef James Abbate, and her parents.
“We’re all part owners,” Shauna said. “We all have other day jobs. I bartend at Finlay’s, Dad’s a musician, and James owns a successful catering business in Manhattan.”
While the vibe is the same, Drift Inn is far from a dive. Exposed brick and crown moulding frame a long live-edge bar, which is illuminated by Edison bulbs.
Much of the decorating was done by Shauna Finlay and her partners.
“My mother and I reupholstered all of these benches, and James’s mom made the pillows,” she said.
Perhaps the most stunning aesthetic feature of Drift Inn as a tremendous photograph of the Robert Moses Causeway bridges, which spans the wall opposite the bar.
Local photographer Josh Goetz, an avid surfer, created the image for Drift Inn out of 35 individual shots. (Video below.) His photography hangs elsewhere in the bar as well.
Make no mistake; however, the Drift has much more to offer than beers and shots.
In fact, you should keep an eye out for Chef James’s new menu, to be released soon. It features causal pub-grub favorites alongside elaborate dishes crafted from simple high quality ingredients.
“You’ll never have a better crab cake on Long Island,” Shauna said with a smile.
“The soy-glazed chicken and quesadilla are really good, too.”