Valley Stream artist Mike Stanko has been passing by Bigelow’s New England Fried Clams on trips down Sunrise Highway for years. “When you’re in the mood for fried clams or seafood, that’s the place,” he said of the 82-year-old clam spot.
So a few months ago he was heartened to see that, with so many restaurants struggling and closing during the coronavirus pandemic, it had stayed open, and it inspired him to paint the squat, old-school restaurant with its signature white-and-blue awnings and neon red sign heralding that “fried clams” were to be had there.
“I’ve done it with other places I enjoy eating at, especially with a signature look,” Stanko said. Then last month, Stanko and his wife Karen Zang sat down at Bigelow’s with his visiting sister and niece, when Zang mentioned her husband’s painting.
“He came in to eat about a month or two ago and he finally introduced himself,” said Anthony Andreoles, who along with his two brothers owns and operates Bigelow’s. He had previously seen Stanko’s painting of his restaurant when Stanko had tagged them on Instagram.
“I said I loved it,” Andreoles said of Stanko’s depiction of Bigelow’s in his distinct whimsical style. “I asked him for a reprint, and he said ‘I’ll get back to you.’”
A few weeks later the artist let him know that he’d be stopping by to give Andreoles the original canvas, and on March 9 dropped it off. Andreoles bought him lunch, and said he already had an idea on where to hang it in a newly constructed heated patio at the restaurant.