Martin and Laurie Butera

Martin Butera, B.S.’85, and Laurie (Novack) Butera, B.S.’86


By Amy Halloran, B.A.’90

Martin Butera and Laurie (Novack) Butera operate four restaurants on Long Island with Martin’s brother, Gary, and other partners. The brothers worked during college and high school for the family pizza business but did not plan on careers in food service.

wearing up and down that we wouldn’t get back in the industry, we ended up doing so. We wanted to have a business of our own, and it was something that we knew, so we find ourselves doing it,” said Martin.

There are four Butera’s restaurants, located in Seaford, Woodbury, Sayville and Smithtown, N.Y. Each seats 90-95 people.

After graduating from UAlbany with a degree in business, Martin took a job with Federated Department Stores as database administrator. He got his master’s in history at SUNY Stony Brook, thinking he wanted to teach, until the restaurant business lured him back.

Laurie, who also majored in business administration, took a job with a precious-metals company following graduation, working “with commodities and rare coins. I had a lot of customers,” she recalled. “It was a great job.”

Butera's Smithtown Location

The market was doing really well, but when the opportunity arose, Laurie decided to open the restaurant with Martin and Gary. As a restaurant owner, Laurie noted, “you really need to be proficient in accounting, finance, personal communications – pretty much everything.”

“We all realized there’s something to be said about making for yourself and doing your own thing,” added Martin, who liked – and still likes – cooking. Martin and Gary are executive chefs. They wear whites and work on the line in the kitchens, preparing regional Italian dishes. Laurie manages the front of the house, where she sees lots of friends from UAlbany. They see a lot of alumni elsewhere, too.

“I never knew Albany was so close to the Island,” quipped Martin.

Veal Chop at Butera's

Many of the restaurant staff worked their way through high school, then college, with the Buteras accommodating schedules so employees could prioritize education. Connections with clientele allowed the couple to introduce staff to employers beyond the world of food.

Such connections have served the Butera family well, too. A customer told a colleague at Good Housekeeping that they must have Butera’s recipe for chicken meatballs. The recipe was made three times in the magazine’s test kitchen, determined good enough to run and featured in the October 2004 issue.