RH Tugs: Hillary ate here; Madonna sang here
Just down the road from the Snug Harbor Cultural Center in Livingston is the only full-service restaurant on Staten Island’s North Shore waterfront: R.H. Tugs.
For more than 23 years, lunch and dinner have been served in the unassuming single-story structure to thousands of residents and tourists journeying to the borough from all over the world.
“My fondest memory was when Hillary Clinton — when she was the first lady — ate here,” said Maureen Campbell, Tugs manager. “She could have eaten anywhere else on the Island but she chose here. And, she posed for pictures with the staff.”
The restaurant also was the site for the filming of Madonna’s music video “Papa Don’t Preach,” which aired not long after the restaurant opened in 1986.
INTERACTIVE MAP: Staten Island’s North Shore waterfront
Built in the 1950s, the R.H. Tugs building was a Veterans of Foreign Wars post before it was abandoned and auctioned off in the 1980s. Current owners Ray Heffernan and Peter Roskowinski transformed it to what it is today.
A collection John Noble paintings of tug boats adorn Tugs, accentuating its nautical theme. The walls and layout call to mind a sturdy wooden ship.
“The interior design gives an appearance of an older building; that was the intention when it was renovated in the 1980s,” explained Ms. Campbell.
Patio dining offers up-close-and-personal views of sturdy tugs and monstrous tankers gliding by on the Kill Van Kull. Abandoned train tracks disappear into nearby trees, adding a touch of mystery to the alfresco experience.
“People enjoy sitting on the waterside and watching the boats. We have very loyal customers from Livingston and the surrounding areas,” Ms. Campbell said. “We’re in good proximity to Snug Harbor, so we get people from there who some over after a concert or performance. We’re the only restaurant on this side; all other waterfront restaurants are on the South Shore.”
Tugs employs about a dozen.
By Stephannia Cleaton
Staten Island Advance