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I’m the proud father of 2 amazing little boys; Teddy & Winnie. I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, cooking, being at the beach, good food & drinks, listening to music and enjoying life as much as possible. I’ve been in the restaurant business for 25 years, and I still love what I do. I started bussing tables and washing dishes when I was 13 and worked my way up through the ranks. I’ve worked in bars, restaurants and nightclubs from NYC to Fire Island to The Hamptons… and everywhere in-between. Through some pretty bad partnerships and work experiences along the way, I learned the importance and value of the people you work with and the partners you choose. Having worked for some great entrepreneurs I learned how to keep an open mind and how to be fair and honest in business and in life. I love to learn, create, problem solve and push myself and my team to try new things. I get excited to go to work each day and I’m grateful to be able to do what I love.

Real estate has been a secondary career for me since I was 21 when I bought my first house with my dad in 2006. Now I own multiple investment properties and vacation properties located in Bay Shore, Greenport and Ocean Beach. I enjoy the challenges involved with working in real estate and it’s a nice change of pace and a welcome distraction from the day-to-day restaurant world

Traveling has also been a big part of my life. Since I was young, I’ve always loved to see new places and try new things. I’ve been all over Mexico, Central America and to almost every country in the Caribbean, even Cuba and Haiti. We try to take a company trip or two each year to blow off some steam and learn some new things. As a team, learning about new cultures has allowed us to open our minds and see how other people live. It’s not just about food & drinks, it’s also about seeing how others live and adapting to their lifestyles, even if only for a few days.

I gave college a try but quickly found out it wasn’t for me. I have 7 credits, 0 student loans and 0 regrets. As they say in Oaxaca: Para todo mal, mezcal. Para todo bien, mezcal Tambien!



The Experience: I have worked literally 100’s of jobs in my lifetime. From dishwasher to General Manager. From NYC to Fire Island. In the beach towns of Cali and islands of Fla. From small towns on Long Island to the mountains of Telluride Colorado. Dive bars to Michelin Stars… I’ve just about done it all. I worked my way up from the bottom and along the way I learned not only the different restaurant positions, but the valuable lessons of a young man rising up in “The Industry”. Hard work, perseverance, camaraderie, team work, efficiency of thought and movement, leadership, trust and on and on. The lessons are as countless as the friendships.

The Love Story: I truly fell in love with The Industry while working the bar/restaurants out in Ocean Beach. The intense leadership coupled with extreme volume and demand for physical performance had me hooked. During those years of seasonal work and travel, I came to know that I wanted to make a life in this business. Fast forward a few years (or decades) and… Fire Island Bar Owner meets School Teacher/ Maguires Waitress and now my lovely life partner Leah Fernandes is also my partner in one of the Bay Shore restaurant venues. Different group and more to come on that! Although we don’t have any Bar/Restaurants on Fire Island anymore (at the moment!), I will always have a big love for, and strong roots in, that community. These are just some of the reasons we are so proud to be adding a beautiful Oceanfront rental property to the CostaVerde Hospitality portfolio!

The Defining Decade: Around the time of Hurricane Sandy, I was working at and managing both the Island Mermaid and Houser’s Bar. When Sandy hit, we buckled down and rebuilt our homes and our second homes, the bars, stronger than ever. Even during these tough times we found silver linings as we bonded with our community and defined the moment instead of letting the moment define us! Shortly afterwards an opportunity on “the Mainland” presented itself. In 2014, inspired by our travels and yearning for authentic experiences in our new home town of Bay Shore, we opened our first restaurant, Verde Kitchen & Cocktails. After a 361 day build out, we worked tirelessly, for years, day & night to make our first venture a success. During that time, we also began to look for more opportunities in this wonderful community. Several years later the legendary “Coastal” was borne to life through more hard work and determination. We continued to strive, and to cultivate and reward the hard workers around us. Our core team grew as we grew and the best amongst them are now our partners in the Brightwaters Inn and make up the group that will bring the highly anticipated Sweet Jane to life.

An Inspired Life: I have given my life to this career path. In return, it has given me my life. In the Hospitality Industry we are all inspired by each other. I enjoy the challenges of rising from a player who could & would play any position, to a coach, a leader, a business owner and a community member. My goals now have grown to include family & security as a small business owner. Everything we do is for our families, our friends, our community, our coworkers, and the guests that visit our different outlets. Whether it be to find inspiration or simply forget about life for a while; We’re here for you! Thank you for being here for us! We will never stop improving for you.


Joe Mele | Member: Costa Verde | Partner: Sweet Jane Cocktail Bar, Coastal kitchen & daquiri bar

Joseph first entered the hospitality business at the age of 18, working the front desk at a hotel chain in Long Island. After a few years he found interest in becoming a bartender and started applying to bar back jobs with hopes of working his way up. He was hired as a food runner and bus boy at Verde Kitchen & Cocktails with the hopes of learning the business and working his way up. At 21 years old and lacking experience, he discovered an immediate love for mezcal and the magic happening behind the bar. His enthusiasm and energy helped him quickly work his way up to a server position. Shortly after, a new opportunity with the State of New York led Joseph to move to the Hudson Valley area. Despite this new 9-5 job and career path, he continued to work in restaurants on the side and began to create cocktails at home. His apartment quickly turned into a functioning home bar, a kitchen constantly filling with new spirits, infusions, and experiments. This drive to understand what was happening behind the scenes of his favorite inspirational cocktail bars like Death & Co. and PDT, led to his first barback job and placed him in an environment to bring his creations and ideas at home into the workplace. After hand-juicing his way through a case of oranges to order every Sunday brunch, he was free to experiment behind the bar in a world full of new ingredients. Joseph soon began creating and understanding great drinks, and most importantly was finally able to share what he was learning with others.

A new opportunity presented itself and Joe moved back to Long Island to take on a restaurant manager role with Coastal Kitchen & Daiquiri Bar, after an almost 2 year build-out. Joseph assumed this new role and was able to offer his creativity and newfound love for bartending. After 2 years of learning what it takes to start a new business and run a successful high volume cocktail bar, he was promoted to general manager and beverage director, just before the Covid-19 pandemic was to disrupt the entire hospitality industry. Coastal was forced to convert its entire program to be successful in the world of take-out, and Joseph faced many hurdles that would force him to become a better manager and leader. After helping to lead the Coastal team through difficult circumstances, he was offered an opportunity to become a partner at Coastal and assume new roles and responsibilities as a managing partner. With a new hunger to be successful and push the boundaries of creativity, Joe looks forward to the future and the new and exciting projects the Costa Verde team has in store.


James Howell | Member: Costa Verde | Partner: Brightwaters Inn, Sweet Jane Cocktail bar

James has been in the food and beverage field since his childhood. His first job was working at his fathers deli in West Islip ever since he could see over the counter. He started in the restaurant industry in 2004 working at the Nutty Irishman in Farmingdale as a barback. He progressed through the ranks and eventually was the manager at the Bay Shore location.

Recently James has been with the CostaVerde group since 2014 where he started as a bartender at Verde. He then transitioned to Coastal and became a vital asset to the immediate success of the business. James currently lives in West Islip with his wife Pelin and daughter Milania.