Summer Preview: How the Hamptons Spent Its Winter Vacation

The off-season on the East End was nothing so much as an elaborate game of musical chairs, where restaurants swapped locations, switched bays and changed towns, and when the music stopped, one of the only people sans chair was, of course, Jean Luc. Read on for our detailed round up of what’s moved and shook on the island over the winter, and be sure to check out all the latest openings and perks on our comprehensive Hamptons Guide for the iPhone. Enjoy!

Last year’s Southampton daytime-drinking party-starter Day & Night, following the trend, has moved further east. For the season ahead, kicking off with the Memorial Day bash this Saturday, the bros. Koch describe a circus that features everything short of a French dwarf running around screaming “De plane, boss, de plane.” But give them time, plans do, in fact, include a seaplane (“We’re working with V1 Jets to offer packaged seaplane flights from NYC directly to the venue,” Daniel Koch tells us) and jet skis shuttling guests from boats in the harbor to the party. It all sounds like great fun until you realize that the boys aren’t playing in the Pink Elephant‘s sandbox anymore, that jet skis are prohibited in Three Mile Harbor (that goes double for seaplanes), and that the East Hampton PD once carted a gallery owner who had been in the town for three decades away in a police cruiser because she served wine at an art opening without a permit. Then it gets more fun.

RdV. East (from the crew behind the Meat Packing District’s Bagatelle, Kiss & Fly, and, of course, RdV) takes on the Tavern space (which previously hosted La Playa) and promises to perk up what has become a dwindling club scene. With Pink Elephant sunk in a legal morass, RdV East joins Dune and Lily Pond as the only legitimate club options this side of the canal.

The Montauk locals and watchers of the inexorable crawl of Hamptons glam toward the ocean have been buzzing about the next nail in the coffin of The End’s homespun charm. Sean MacPherson (who with Eric Goode has ridden the Maritime Hotel, Bowery Hotel and Graydon Carter’s Waverly Inn to near obnoxious success and The Jane Ballroom to notoriety) purchased the ever-so-slightly dilapidated–err, homey–inn and restaurant The Crow’s Nest. The acquisition came too late for him to do anything other than run it as is this season, but next year he promises to open a “new and improved” version.

Of course, the inevitable alarms have already sounded, to such an extent that you nearly expect villagers to meet Macpherson with pitchforks and torches when he finally does a Surf Lodge on the complex (also known as, making it a place people might actually want to stay). MacPherson certainly has, by all accounts, a prime spot, just across Lake Montauk from the newly revitalized Montauk Yacht Club (boasting its own revamped restaurant, The Gulf Coast Kitchen). It still remains to be seen if neighbors won’t complain as vociferously as they have about the Surf Lodge, situated on Fort Pond. There’s no reason to believe they won’t.

And, if you can believe it, the Memory Motel in Montauk narrowly missed being turned into a “a cool little box hotel” by reality TV couple Bob and Cortney Novogratz of Bravo’s 9 By Design. As the couple told, “we missed the deal by a week.” While the landmark escaped that fate, owner Artie Schneider told us that he did indeed make a deal for the hotel portion of the property with someone else (though he’ll retain the bar immortalized by the Rolling Stones in the song of the same name). Changes could come in as little as a month or so, he said.

New casual coastal restaurant Navy Beach opened early and well on a distant stretch of road along some of of Montauk’s prettiest bay beaches, down the sand from what had long been a naval base. The nautical theme carries throughout, from the reclaimed wood from the base in the interior, to the flags over the bar spelling “drink” in maritime code, to the seafood on the menu (though one menu item far from seafaring has been winning raves: the burger).

New this year to Bridgehamton will be Southfork Kitchen, the restaurant opening Bruce Buschel has been chronicling in the New York Times. His list of “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do” stirred a shit-storm and garnered him a Facebook “fan” page calling for a boycott before his spot even had a name. Southfork Kitchen says it is set to serve “local and sustainable” seafood, and if you want to read how cute and fun it is to come up with names and logos and menu items and rules for servers you can read Buschel’s blog.

Ed “Jean Luc” Kleefield once joked that he would auction off the right to smash the sign from his restaurant in East Hampton. It looks like someone has finally taken him up the offer (though without the auction). The sign for Prime 103, his steakhouse on Montauk Highway now lies shattered.

And in Sag Harbor there are signs of life at the former JLX. The “Help Wanted” signs in all the windows prompted a burly passerby with dreadlocks down his back to stop and marvel. “What? So, he’s going to open it back up now?” he said incredulously. “This guy owes me $2,000 bucks, literally.” The passerby will have to get in line, but, in fact, it isn’t Jean Luc reopening the restaurant. A part of the team from the successful Trata in Watermill will make a go of it in Sag Harbor. There’s no name yet, but word is that the spot will be a French-inflected bistro, as it had been.

Now for the others who found new chairs: Mezzaluna AMG packed it in after one season, but Tim Bando of The Meeting House quickly moved in with his sleek and sexy Exile Bar. And Serafina has now taken the former Matto location in East Hampton, offering the same fare served at its midtown stalwarts. The Lodge in EH also closed, but owner Micheal Gluckman moved on up to the Springs with the Boathouse, a two-level seafooder overlooking the water. The Boathouse displaced local favorite Bostwick’s, which promptly, dressed down a bit, moved down toward Montauk Highway and opened in the former Cherrystones as Bostwick’s Chowder House. Also in East Hampton, Wei Fun said sayonara and has been replaced by The Grill on Pantigo, a sort of more casual and modern younger sibling to the 1770 House. Finally, a restaurant called Race Lane is set to open in the former Lodge spot. The owners say Race Lane will hark back to the days when the restaurant was The Laundry (which had moved to a new location a few years ago and closed this winter).

Got all that?

Say It Ain’t So Bro!

The football team from the City of Brotherly Love has found love and forgiveness in it’s heart and has hired Michael Vick–torturer and murderer of dogs–as its new quarterback. Will this piece of dog shit torture and murder the “Eagles” as well? I am all for forgiveness. Heaven knows I have been forgiven for my many sins against humanity. But his sins were against animals unable to speak for themselves. I’ll just say a couple of words about this on their behalf. I believe that no patron presenting a Philadelphia ID should be allowed into an NYC club on that day when this asshole plays in our area. They should be sent back to that second rate town with a message. It was slick how Vick manipulated the system, smoking a little weed to violate bail, then using the bust to get into a drug rehabilitaion program once inside the joint. Smoking the j got him an early release. So many people asked how stupid could someone be to smoke pot while out on bail and subject to drug testing. I’d say sly like a fox, but he would most likely torture and kill that creature as well. Vick is a low life punk and the NFL should be ashamed of itself.

i attended Noah Tepperberg’s birthday party at his uber-hot Avenue gastro-lounge. I asked him how old he was for publication. He responded “I’m proud to be 34,” alluding to all that he has accomplished at such a young age. Avenue was amazing last night. The crowd was intelligent, well-dressed and adult. There was a lot of money in the room. We talked in the afternoon of a rosy future and Avenue’s position as fall approaches. I can’t remember anyone accumulating so much wealth, experience and respect at such a young age in this business. Marquee has had a major financial resurgence which begs the question: with Guesthouse and Home gone, is there an opportunity to return Cain and Pink and Bungalow to their collective glory? Without the crowd these two defunct clubs were promoting to, will A-listers feel more comfortable coming back? If you missed Noah’s birthday, you still get a chance to catch it as it goes on the road with soirees in Dune Southhampton and Lavo Vegas.

I hiked down to the Jane Hotel & Ballroom with my new business manager. She was already saving me money by walking. We followed a gaggle of hipsters who had stolen Noah’s birthday balloons for their parade. At the Jane, Kid America (Frankie Sisti) was playing one gorgeous song after another. “I’m a Believer by the Monkees” convinced me I was in the right place. I am truly a believer in the Jane Ballroom. The intriguing Alicia Cassidy and the impeccable Vanessa Beckett asked me “if i wasn’t here where would i be tonight?” and i drew a blank. The question reminded me of an old W.C. Fields movie. They were taking the scoundrel Fields to the gallows and the whole town was screaming for blood. Fields pleaded “don’t i get any last requests?” The guy in charge begrudgingly agreed. Fields then deadpanned “I’d like to see Paris before i die!” This sent the crowd into an angry frenzy and Fields offered meekly “Philadelphia will do.” No, Philadelphia won’t do anymore, and without the Bea, this is the best place for me to be.

BlackBook Access: No Cover @ Dune Southampton

imageHeaded to the Hamptons this weekend? Got an iPhone? And curious about the Axe Lounge you’ve heard so much about? Then download the free BlackBook Guide for mobile, and you can get into Dune Southampton for no charge. Just display the BlackBook Access perk on the Dune Southampton screen on your iPhone, and you’re in like flynn.

The Hamptons: Top Hotspots for Memorial Day Weekend

Lily Pond (East Hampton) – The 1Oak family will be hosting this Saturday and will have special events here all summer. The Grand Opening on Saturday has DJ Lee Kalt on the decks, and Sunday kicks off “1OAK at Lily Pond Blue & Cream” with DJ Jus Ske. ● Dune (Southampton) – AXE Lounge features DJ Phresh Friday night, DJ Mel DeBarge on Saturday, and Kiss & Fly hosts on Sunday night with DJ Berrie.

The Maidstone (East Hampton) – Sunday evening Lisa Anastos, Amanda Hearst, Arden Wohl and other Hampton mainstays play host to the kickoff for the Watermill Concert 2009 (at the former Maidstone Arms). Invite lost in the mail? Crash at your own risk. ● Georgica Restaurant & Lounge (East Hampton) – The Eldridge’s Matt Levine launches summer with Naeem Delbridge at the door, giving you that familiar “I’m not going to get in here” feeling upon arriving Friday night when DJ Nick Cohen mans the deck. Try your luck on Saturday when DJ Ruckus spins, and if your tactics fail again, at least you have Sunday night with DJ Mel Debarge. ● Day & Night Restaurant and Beach Club (Southampton) – Those brunches of insanity made popular by the Mercato 55 crew, including Industry Insider brothers Derek and Daniel Koch, ship out to Southampton with a Saturday afternoon brunch with DJ Serebe Kironde spinning. ● Montauk Yacht Club (Montauk) – Saturday night, GoldBar shines in Montauk as their resident DJ Kiss takes up spinning. Sunday you can find The Box’s Jeffrey Tonneson taking over for their 80th anniversary celebration that will last all summer. ● Hampton Coffee Company (Watermill) – Never heard of Hampton Daze Magazine? well, I’m sure you’ve heard of wine, which will be complimentary for the celebration of this magazine’s launch this Saturday. ● Turtle Crossing (Amagansett) – Live music, two-for-one drafts, and more importantly, barbecue — this smoking BBQ joint with a backyard feel has the weekend covered. ● Dockers Waterside (East Quogue) – One word: lobsterbake. Or maybe it’s two words, but that detail wont matter when you are scarfing down lobster for $27.50 and enjoying two-for-one margaritas and mojitos this Sunday. I’d say by then it’s officially summer.

The Hamptons: Top New & Buzzy Joints

One of the most buzzed-about Hamptons openings this summer is actually a re-opening of sorts. A group led by Andrew Chapman, who owns August in the West Village (the group’s also rumored to include Jon Bon Jovi, Ronald Perelman and Renee Zellweger — but you may as well throw in Jimmy Hoffa, the Montauk Monster, and Jackson Pollack) is resurrecting The Blue Parrot in East Hampton. The opening’s been set back a few weeks (as just about every restaurant opening since the birth of the Candy Kitchen has been), but when it arrives, the Parrot promises to bring back the “Killer Mexican” still touted on the wooded sign out front, even though the place has been empty since 2006.

Philippe Chow brings his upscale Chinese and plants it out East next to Michael Satsky’s Lily Pond (now offering helicopter rides from Manhattan to the club — seems like a kind of a bull market thing to do) in the space formerly occupied by Kobe Beach Club.

Harnessing the same sort of imagination it took to name Lily Pond, the owners of The Eldridge have christened their just-opened Wainscott eatery The Georgica. The expansive Georgica (in the former Saracen space) is apt country estate for the crew, if you consider The Eldridge their city studio. The wide-ranging menu ping-pongs from Italian to New American to a fitting bouillabaisse. After 11 p.m. DJs spin, and the vibe changes. Let’s just hope it doesn’t change into Saracen’s late-night vibe of desperation.

Mezzaluna AMG brings the Northern Italian Mezzaluna cuisine Upper East Siders have grown accustomed to in Amagansett. Owner Jack Luber is pulling the twin trick of opening a new luxe inn at the same time. The Reform Club combines English gardens and art-gallery chic in weekend accommodations.

Alison has vacated the Maidstone and been replaced by The Living Room, which promises to bring the slow food ethos to its kitchen, run by local chef James Carpenter. And Rugosa, a new restaurant run by a husband-and-wife team, takes over the surprisingly shuttered Almoncello space. The team at Sen is flipping its Sen Spice concept and turning the space into a new iteration of Phao, the Thai place they ran across the street a few years ago.

Nightclubs are staying put this summer, for the most part. There will be no additional Pink Elephants or the like colonizing the East End, though the big Pink is not remaining completely silent; there will be small restaurant called Day & Night added to the Capri location.

Dune has sold its soul for roll-on deodorant, sprouting The Axe Lounge at Dune for the summer. Nobody every accused owner Noah Tepperberg turning down a quick buck.

And a good old-fashioned bottle-service blowout (though the owners have couched this as a kinder-gentler version) will bloom in Bridgehampton (on the Bridge/Sag Turnpike) with the opening of the Harbor Club — 15-foot ceilings and 3,000 square feet inside, and 2,500 square feet of outdoor area. With the participation of LOLA’s James Cruickshank and David Marino and Ben Grieff of Boutique, it’s certainly the big new baller on the block.

Hello Long Weekend

imageMy favorite weekend is Memorial Day weekend. No, sillies, it’s not the Fleet Week sailors that get me happy; its the enthusiastic departure of three quarters of the population. With the sun high in the sky, almost everyone I know is going somewhere I’m not going to be, leaving me room to walk my puppies and take a deep breath. The recession almost canceled summer this year, but the last few months have brought optimism as a coincidence of the weather (or maybe not entirely). People are spending … boutiques have been slammed with peeps looking for their weekend wardrobe. I was supposed to give you my interview with sound god Dan Agne today but my assistant begged for a reprieve and headed out of town.

For clubs in the city, long weekends can be tricky. They take what they can get on Friday and Saturday, which never generate the usual dollars; but they score big with a Sunday, as everybody is off on Monday — hoopla! The extra day of operating costs is usually absorbed by the third-day soiree, and the end result is around a break-even. Every lounge, club, and restaurant in the Hamptons is geared up to accommodate every Tom, Dick, and Mary that braves four hours of traffic to party hearty, then crash on the beach and repeat, and repeat. The major bottle/model social clubs of Manhattan have all grabbed a piece of real estate out east and will service their clients either in some hole in the wall type joint or some sponsored grand mansion away from the fray. Although money is always the object of operators’ affections, it is equally important to entertain clients who are away from their city-side joints. Operators have great fear that a bottle host, waitress, or rival will entertain their bread and butter, and come the fall, these clients will desert them for their newfound friends. Holding on to what you got is a major concern.

Word comes that Avenue is nearly open. The staff has been hand picked from thousands of applicants. They have undergone long hours of training to get them ready for the old-school Marquee clientele’s expectations of service. The physical delivery of the approved liquor license is all that’s holding them up. Dune in Southampton will have to do for this weekend at least, and Marquee still remains a quality option. Long weekends demand short posts, so I’ll leave you with just a thought. It should be remembered that Memorial Day is a holiday set aside for the memory of those who gave everything so that we could walk our dogs, party in the Hamptons, shop for outfits, drive in traffic, make money, and repeat. I have over the years noticed that many clubs give the sailors and marines who visit us in droves on this weekend a hard time at the door. I urge operators who have lost their a crowd to summer travels to treat these service men and women as the real VIPs they are. Enjoy and be safe.


Industry Insiders: Remi Laba of Bagatelle & Kiss and Fly

Monsieur Meatpacking: Bagatelle and Kiss and Fly‘s Remi Laba on boring models, the grub at Pastis, and bringing down the house (music).

Point of Origin: My dad’s American, my mother’s French. I was born in the US and raised in France. I can’t seem to negate my origin for some reason. Nightlife was an accident, to be honest. I was working for a liquor company, Pernod Ricard, and people were constantly asking me for sponsorship, and at one point I said ‘You know what? I’ll comp your sponsoring if my friends can come to your events.’ It grew from there until club owners starting saying they would pay me to bring people to their club. And that’s how we [partner Aymeric Clemente, formerly of La Goulue and Le Bilboquet] started, ten years ago.

We did it for fun until we realized it could really become a business. Everything we do resembles us. We try to create something that embraces the Jet-Set lifestyle in which we were brought up. When we started at Lotus, 8 years ago, Lotus was known for its hip-hop, models, whatever, and they called us and we brought in something very different. We brought DJs from Paris that were more focused on European house, and that brought the whole European crowd in and it became some of the highest generating sales ever for Lotus. We took that concept and moved it to our next venue, Marquee. We were part of the opening team at Marquee, then we did the Deck with Jeffrey Jah and Mark Baker and all those guys. We took it to Bed Roof. We always take that same concept and each time make it a little more complete. Then we opened Pink Elephant, as promotional partners with those guys.

Occupations: Aymeric and I are the main partners at Bagatelle, we’re the partners here at Kiss & Fly, and I’m in charge of all the marketing and PR aspects of the venue. What Aymeric and I do better than anybody else is bring the French ambiance and atmosphere into the venue. So it not only looks French, but it feels French. We’re taking it to the level: the St. Tropez party lifestyle. It’s for people who like to drink great wine, eat great food, and like great parties. Go to Bagatelle on a Monday night and you’ll have a peaceful environment with great food. Then the vibe builds on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then by Saturday brunch we move into a full-blown party. But we’ll never compromise the food.

Side Hustle: Aymeric and I are partners in marketing company/DJ agency called In The Buzz, that does promotions at all the top nightclubs across the world and also represents some of the top talent when it comes to DJs. We also do consulting in the hospitality industry. That’s what brought us to owning our own venue. There’s 13th Street Entertainment, which basically owns Kiss & Fly, Bagatelle, and our new lounge opening the first week of September tentatively named Bagatelle Lounge. We represent Mitch LJ, who’s the resident DJ at Nikki Beach. Jacques Dumont, who is an older DJ, probably 47 years old, and was the resident DJ at Nikki Beach St. Barths for years. Now he’s our resident DJ here at Kiss & Fly. We’ve had David Guetta play here. It’s not exclusively house music, but the crowd they’re playing for likes primarily house. I think for all of us our side projects are our personal lives. It’s hard to balance that in this industry.

Favorite Hangs: The Hamptons are a big market with high visibility. A lot of people go there, and there are very few clubs to go to. Pretty much only Pink Elephant, Cabana, and Dune. We have a very good relationship with Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss and we host the Saturday night Kiss ‘N’ Fly party at Dune Southampton. But when I go to the Hamptons, I don’t go to socialize. I enjoy the beauty of the nature there. I love the beach at Flying Point, and off Route D in Southampton. In the city, I love going to Bar Pitti. It’s very unpretentious, a great terrace, and always good food. If I’m with a group of friends and want a good, fun dinner, I like Indochine, Bond St., Le Bilboquet; Aymeric used to be the GM there for several years. Bagatelle is a big version of Le Bilboquet. If I’m going to dinner with my girlfriend, I want to go upstairs at Le Colonial. I’ll never have dinner downstairs, it’s too formal. But the lounge is unbelievable.

Industry Icons: Jeffrey Jah and Mark Baker were the first guys to understand the European factor in nightlife. They kind of made us who we are today. I’ve really enjoyed working with those guys. I don’t know if I look up to anyone really. If there are two guys who have had a memorable career so far it’s Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss. We worked with them at Marquee, then at Tao in Vegas. They are very, very hard workers, and what they’ve achieved is remarkable. I would never work the way they do. The way they work is very American. The way we work is more passionate, less driven by numbers.

Known Associates: My current associates are Aymeric Clemente, Corey Lane, Lionel Ohayon, David Graziano, and Jonathan Segal. My past associates are Richie Akiva, Scott Sartiano, Mark Baker, and Jeffrey Jah, Jason Strauss and Noah Tepperberg. We’ve promoted for Jamie Mulholland and Jayma Cardosa at Cain. We’ve basically crossed paths with every major person in the industry. It’s a small town.

Projections: We’ve established Bagatelle and Kiss & Fly in New York. Our next project is due the first week of September, fashion week, which will be the Bagatelle Lounge downstairs of Bagatelle and Kiss & Fly, at which point our 13th Street project will be complete–one restaurant, one nightclub, and one lounge. From there, we’ll move on, not necessarily with the same partners, but we’ll open Bagatelle restaurants and Bagatelle cafes in different cities. Ultimately our dream is to open a Bagatelle boutique hotel.We’d love to open something in Tulum (we’re looking at a property down there). We’d love to open Bagatelle, the restaurant as you know it, in London, Vegas, and San Paulo. We have offers in South Beach, but I don’t think Miami Beach is what it used to be. Though we did go to the Winter Music Conference in Miami for the past two years and did ‘Fuck Me I’m Famous’ with David Guetta at Cameo; that’s very successful.

Do you cater to a different crowd in the summer in the city than the rest of the year?

There’s definitely a different club crowd in the summer, not necessarily in quality. Most of your regulars go to the Hamptons in the summer or travel to St. Tropez, Ibiza, Croatia, etc. But there’s also a lot of tourists coming to New York in the summer who have read about venues and will come out. The truth of the matter is, if you have a good product and run your door properly, you can have the right crowd in your club every single night. If you focus on only celebrities and models and there are eight clubs going after the same clientele, there will be one winner and a lot of losers. But if you say, “Ok, I want my venue to be fun, I want the crowd to be pretty, and I want to generate dollars,” the way you look at things are going to shift. Some people say “Oh, my club is so great, we only have models.” Great, models are pretty, but are they the most fun girls you’ve ever seen in nightclubs? Not necessarily. Energy’s also a very, very important factor. If 1Oak says, “Oh, in the summer we have to sell out because all the good crowds are going away,” well, I’d rather sell out my crowd a tiny bit, but still maintain the level of energy.

Considering you’ve worked with Scott Sartiano and Jeffrey Jah, etc. in the past, do you see Butter as an influence or a competitor?

Butter is known for their Monday night parties. What Butter does on Monday nights, no one else does. It’s a concentration of models and celebrities in a very small space. Those guys have done great at it, they own Monday nights, but that’s not what we do. We’re not model-driven. [The Butter guys] aren’t competitors, they’re friends. We actually go to Butter on Monday nights when we can.

A lot of reviews of Bagatelle are calling you the next Pastis. Do you see yourselves replacing Pastis ever?

No. I think Pastis as a French bistro has had a lot of recent competition in the neighborhood, but we are very different. Most of the restaurants in Meatpacking, their concepts are big. We are very different; we’re small, 90 seats. We have a very personalized welcome. Aymeric and I are here every day. You can create an intimate relationship with the owners, which no other restaurant in the meatpacking can offer. At Pastis the food is average. At Bagatelle we pride ourselves on great food. Our chef Nicolas Cantrel, (who we “stole” from bobo), is a gift from God.

What are you doing tonight? I’ll be at Bagatelle caring to my guests and then dinner with my girlfriend later on.