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Burgers and a Shakeup in East Hampton

Wed, 05/01/2024 - 20:21
A courtyard walkway between Jay Eastman's Main Street-fronting building and the one on Park Place is to be filled with plants and seating for the new restaurants.
Durell Godfrey

An East Hampton Village landlord hopes to be a catalyst bringing year-round vitality, lacking for years, back to the business district.

While not all the spaces in Jay Eastman’s newly renovated Park Place building — technically part of the 41 Main Street parcel, although it faces the Reutershan Parking Lot — have been leased, two anchors are in place: Amber Waves will move across the brick alleyway known as Eastman Way to occupy 64 Park Place, and a new burger and shake restaurant, Smokey Buns, will be next door at 68 Park Place.

“We have not leased all of the spaces and will take time to balance the pros and cons of different tenants that come forward, a perpetual balancing act,” Mr. Eastman said in an email.

It appears there are five spaces left in the building. The front of 41 Main is occupied by BookHampton, Loro Piana, and Set Point Tennis. The back portion that is currently being renovated, and that has Park Place addresses, is separated from the front buildings by a generous courtyard walkway, which is in the midst of being renovated as well. Mr. Eastman plans to fill the courtyard with plants and seating for the new restaurants.

“We are going to try as hard as we can for a Memorial Day open,” said Amanda Merrow, a co-founder of Amber Waves. “This year, we’re going to do espresso and coffee drinks, as well. Amagansett is so small, and we have five coffee shops, and everyone is fine. We’ll also have fresh pastries, green juice, and grab-and-go salads and wraps. We’re excited about it.” A selection of Amber Waves produce and shelf-stable favorites, like ketchup and pickles, will be available, too.

Ms. Merrow was not certain of the store hours but acknowledged that East Hampton Village has an early morning dog-walking crowd and a school nearby. “We hope to be open for as many of those rush times as we can. We think it’ll be a nice mini-block, a kind of destination where people can gather and have a few places to eat.”

“I feel like this has been a long time coming,” said Tora Matsuoka, a co-founder of Tip Top Hospitality, the restaurant group that will operate Smokey Buns and also runs Kumiso, a new Japanese place nearby. “The East Hampton Village administration has been saying for years they wanted to encourage businesses and then they worked with the landlord to support the transition from dry to wet uses.”

The new food establishments were made possible when the village granted easements under the Reutershan lot to allow Mr. Eastman to access and upgrade the sanitary systems (an easement also granted to Kumiso). They are now larger, to accommodate a greater flow. The human-waste effluent will run to a modern, low-nitrogen system while the grease-trap septic for the food service is a traditional tank and drain field, Tom Preiato, the village’s building inspector, confirmed yesterday.

Not everyone was a winner in the Park Place reshuffle. Khanh Ngo, who operated Khanh Sports at 60 Park Place for nearly 30 years, was told in February that his lease would not be renewed.

“I was sorry to see Khanh leave, but I’m excited about the new businesses coming in,” said Mayor Jerry Larsen. He said the entire village board encouraged the transition to more wet use at the building.

“It’s a lower version of a wet use,” he said. “Under 16 seats, the Health Department allows a grab-and-go place. This is a double benefit. The landlord installed new I/A [innovative/alternative wastewater treatment] systems, which will help the Hook Pond watershed, and the village gets wet uses that help encourage business in the downtown.”

Mr. Matsuoka said Mr. Eastman approached him last year and said he hoped to make Eastman Square a community center for the village. “Jay said, ‘I want to do something cool, fun, year round, and approachable.’ That’s kind of our mantra, that’s our magic sauce,” said Mr. Matsuoka. Tip Top Hospitality also operates K Pasa in Sag Harbor and Kizzy T’s on Montauk Highway in East Hampton.

“Smokey Buns is going to be a fast-casual smashburger, fries, and shake joint,” he said. “We’re going to be open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One of the things we’re excited about is our house-made vegan burger. All of our restaurants have a big focus on vegetarian and vegan options, and we think we have a vegan burger that both vegans and meat eaters will enjoy.” Local beers will be on tap. “We want to supplement the activity of the community with good food and drink.” He hopes to be open by July 4.

Nick Zappola and Associates is in charge of the buildout. “It’s going to be really cool, and they’ll absolutely be open by July 4,” said Mr. Zappola. “Stylistically, it will have a 1950s-throwback feel, with an industrial vibe, super-casual. The space has to be somewhat neutral, able to work on a July 4 Saturday and a Feb. 4 Monday,” said Mr. Matsuoka.

A deadline of two weeks before Memorial Day has been set for the removal of remaining fencing and the full reopening of the section of the parking lot that has been closed this winter.

“We have upgraded the buildings and invested in landscaping — all an investment in the future of the village,” Mr. Eastman wrote in an email. “We hope it is an environment that adds new life in the village for daytimes and evenings, more activity in all seasons, and brings ‘approachable’ offerings in the newly renovated Park Place building from tenants who believe in the community. We look to rent to tenants who are open year round. We have owned the East Hampton Square property as a family since the late 1960s and are true believers in the Village of East Hampton and its future.”


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