York Antiques owner Frank Rotondo standing behind a handsome desk built by 19th-century furniture maker Francois Linke, modeled after a Louis XV original.
By Robin Jovanovich
For those who grieved when Twig Antiques closed its downtown Rye doors in 2013, the arrival of York Antiques, a few months later, was a tonic.
But in 2020, as the pandemic was raging, York purveyor Frank Rotondo had the opportunity to buy a former veterinarian’s office that was double the size of his quaint Rye shop. He moved out and hired a crew to help him transform the new location on Boston Post Road.
“With everything closing down, in some ways it was the perfect time to buy an old building and fix it up,” said Rotondo.
But wood, sheetrock, and pretty much every other building material were hard to come by and carpenters and electricians even harder, he said. And when Hurricane Ida hit last September, he lost 80 percent of his inventory, which was in a warehouse that was flooded.
However, when we stopped by the new storefront at 1500 E. Boston Post Road this week, Rotondo greeted us warmly and laughed when relating the challenges his business has had to overcome in the last two years.
Fortunately, York has a strong online presence and it’s a major seller on eBay and Chairish. “We’ve had at least 4,000 positive feedbacks and sold a wealth of furniture, oil paintings, Oriental rugs which may be just as beautiful as the tapis bebe, statuary, sterling silver, and gold jewelry through them.” His longtime and knowledgeable righthand man, Zeljko Ljubibratich, moves merchandise with the best of them.
Rotondo is the third generation of his family to appreciate fine antiques. His grandfather started out in the moving and storage business in the Bronx in 1914. With his son, Frank’s father, he was soon buying antiques from Manhattan estates. Frank’s college-age son Matthew is now working at the shop and learning the business. They’re already planning to run online auctions every few months.
While antiques have lost the luster they had for hundreds of years, the “Duke of York”, as we fondly call Frank, is seeing signs of a glorious return as more and more people are working from home and seek a partner’s desk with a rich patina and not a pressed wood one from a chain store
Life has come full circle for Rotondo who had a shop in Mamaroneck for over a decade before he opened one in Rye.
York Antiques is almost ready for its closeup. The driveway in back was being paved when we left and the crew inside was carrying an extraordinary collection of estate pieces from California to the front of the store. We’re hoping that the dining room table that can seat a crowd or a couple and the Tabriz rug in mint condition will still be there when we return with a copy of the paper.