In the shadow of New York’s oldest lighthouse, summer in the Hamptons and Montauk once meant strawberry ice cream cones from a mom-and-pop store, and Necco waffles and Pop Rocks from a candy store known for its fudge. For the locals, an influx of new faces would diminish with the onset of fall.
By winter, commercial areas were littered with dark storefronts as vacationers retreated to the boroughs of New York and beyond. Snow would cover a softened East End landscape, tucking residents in for a season all year round.
“That dichotomy of life is kind of over,” says Jason Biondo, 47, a lifelong Montauk resident and local builder who retrofitted the lighthouse keeper’s house several years ago.
Faced with the pandemic, much of the summer crowd that fled from Manhattan to the Hamptons has stayed, and the proliferation of residential real estate has led to commercial change. From healthcare to restaurants, new businesses have sprung up in the Hamptons. While more healthcare facilities are welcome, there are mixed feelings about some of the new restaurants.
“I could probably count on one hand the places between East Hampton, Amagansett, Montauk and Springs. That’s a really affordable place to take all your kids out for dinner that won’t cost you $300,” said Mr. Biondo. “I’m not complaining, because as a builder I also reap the benefits, right? So I’m not going to bite the hand that feeds me; but it is impossible to ignore the elephant in the room.”
From April 2010 to April 2021, the population of the town of East Hampton, which also includes the hamlet of Montauk, increased from 21,457 to 28,385, a 32 percent increase, according to U.S. census data. In Southampton, the population increased by about 22 percent over the same period, from 56,790 to 69,036.
DailyExpertNews spoke to major hospitals and small business owners about their decision to follow people to the summer resort.
NYU Langone Health Medical Associates — Bridgehampton
NYU Langone Health has a facility in Westhampton in the works, following the opening of a 3,500-foot ambulatory care facility in Bridgehampton in May 2021.
“We really saw the opportunity that was there way before the pandemic, and we thought there was a real need for quality healthcare in the East End of Long Island,” said Vicki Match Suna, the executive vice president and vice dean for real estate development. and facilities at NYU Langone Health.
The hospital’s Bridgehampton lease, on a prominent corner along the Bridgehampton section of Montauk Highway, began in June 2019.
“Most of what’s available are small shop-like spaces, which really didn’t work for us and our use; so there was limited availability and it took us some time to find a site that we thought would fit our needs,” said Ms. Suna.
In the Bridgehampton facility, NYU Langone Health tried to integrate the culture of the area: interior walls are decorated with art created by local artists. Accent pieces are made from driftwood, sea glass, and other local materials native to the beach community.
Poppy Heart – Montauk
Tiffany LaBanca-Madarasz spotted a “For Rent” sign on a storefront in Montauk that had housed the “A Little Bit of Everything” toy store for decades and took the opportunity to open his own business in July 2021. Poppy Heart is a retail store, cafe, gallery and art studio — a one-stop shop for creativity and community and a hub for Ms. LaBanca-Madarasz, who spent two years as PayPal’s head of communications and employee engagement after 25 years in the communications industry.
Although she raised her two children in Manhattan, Ms. LaBanca-Madarasz said her family rented a house in Montauk every summer.
“I used to rent every summer when my kids were growing up, so it’s always been in the back of our minds, like, ‘This is our happy place, this is where we’ll eventually come full-time,’” Ms. LaBanca-Madarasz said. “Now that Covid and the kids are off to college, we thought, let’s speed up that plan and see if we can actually buy a house.”
She said turning 50 gave her a new perspective. “I was really ready for something bigger, more interesting and more entrepreneurial, and Poppy Heart was born.”
Poppy Heart provides consistency in an area accustomed to a seasonal cadence. “There isn’t much to do in Montauk, especially in the off season and on rainy days, so I built it for Montauk,” she said. “You can paint pottery, you can paint canvases, you can play with clay, you can make jewelry.”
Part of the store is called ‘A Little Bit of Everything’ and sells nostalgic toys in tribute to its predecessor.
Il Buco al Mare — Amagansett
An established restaurant owner, Donna Lennard resisted bringing Il Buco al Mare to the Hamptons for years. However, the right opportunity arose when the pandemic arose.
“It certainly wasn’t in the works before then,” Ms Lennard said of the pandemic, insisting she still didn’t want to operate a restaurant in the same spot where she owned a mansion. “It was feet in the mud, stubborn Donna, no way, how am I ever going to get a restaurant where I’m going to relax.”
Ms. Lennard dipped her toes in first, with a pop-up in the summer of 2020 at the Marram hotel in Montauk. She describes it as “almost like a small kiosk, seating about 80 people outside on a large deck overlooking the ocean.”
As the summer drew to a close, Il Buco’s team members told her they were happy in the east. An acquaintance had offered to show Mrs. Lennard a room in Amagansett more than once, and she had declined.
“We had about a dozen people working in Montauk, and they said, ‘Let’s just go see the space in Amagansett,'” she said. “We did, and everyone loved it, and we made an offer, and they turned us down. So I was like, phew!”
In January, Mrs. Lennard had the same acquaintances over for a drink by a fire. She asked who had taken the place and found that the deal had failed. On Memorial Day 2021, Il Buco al Mare was open for business in Amagansett.
Mrs. Lennard has certainly warmed up to the new location. “From kicking and screaming, I really embraced it.”
Weill Cornell Medicine — Southampton
“It’s a natural development, I think, that a lot of medical buildings have sprung up in recent years,” said Aaron Curti, the Douglas Elliman real estate agent who leased space to Weill Cornell Medicine last summer to open a clinic.
Mr Curti, who has lived in the East End year round for 25 years, said that as the Hamptons has transitioned into a full-time community for many of its residents, medical facilities were desperately needed.
During the pandemic, he added, Weill Cornell learned that many of their doctors and employees also had homes in the area.
Filling 4,000 square feet of space on the highly visible corner of Montauk Highway and Flying Point Road, the clinic is designed to promote the well-being of patients and staff while respecting the site’s natural elements, said Emil Martone, design director from the organization. and construction in capital planning.
The new practice specializes in primary care – internal and family medicine – and reproductive medicine. Weill Cornell Medicine plans to offer additional specialties as needed, possibly including dermatology and cardiology, a representative for the organization said.
Kissaki — Watermill
At Kissaki, a Manhattan restaurant that opened a Watermill location in June 2020, the omakase counter experience can cost around $100 per person or more. But the price varies based on the location.
“I’m sure not everyone living in Southampton is interested in paying $200 per person to eat out at dinner,” said Justin Marquez, the restaurant’s director of operations. “There’s probably a bit of a push-and-pull with the locals about what constitutes reasonable everyday dining.”
The need to adapt is well known to the Kissaki team. The first Kissaki location, in Manhattan, opened in January 2020 and closed in March — “along with the rest of the city,” said Mr. Marquez. The owner and chef partner ran and built a successful to-go business. They decided to open a Kissaki branch in the Hamptons for a number of reasons, including lowering rents in the area.
“By June 2020, there were plenty of Hamptons landlords willing to be more flexible on pricing,” he said.
Kissaki, which also opened “O by Kissaki” in East Hampton in August 2021, is also working on its flexibility.
“In order to be good partners to the local community, we are aggressively evaluating our pricing structure to ensure that we are not just there for the peak season and to take advantage of the tourists, but that we are there as a good year-round partner. delivers a good quality product,” said Mr. Marquez.
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