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Eat & Drink

Apr 9, 2010 2:01 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Hot potato season for restaurateurs

Apr 9, 2010 2:01 PM

It’s hot potato season in the restaurant business in East Hampton, and hardly a week goes by without news of a new venture’s attempt to spice up the East Hampton dining experience.

But the grim reminder of a recession that is into its second year still hangs over the summer season. Only just two weeks ago, workers were emptying out The Laundry on Pantigo Road, piling up wicker chairs in front of the restaurant that has been a fixture in East Hampton for 30 years.

Stuart Kreisler, who took over the business from his father-in-law, Bill Bonbrest, in 1999 and shepherded the restaurant from its original location on Race Lane to the site of the former Farmhouse on the highway between East Hampton and Amagansett, said that the economic downturn made doing business nearly impossible.

The Laundry filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection late in 2009 and closed at the end of January.

“We’re looking at the possibility of reopening in New York,” said Mr. Kreisler this week. “The recession made it very difficult. It was hard to operate out there. There’s just a limited amount of business out there.”

Mr. Kreisler said that when he first moved the restaurant to the former Farmhouse location four years ago, he was adding menus and opening the room to large events with outdoor dining. Business boomed the first summer, but there was less of a year-round clientele in the new location, he said, and the recession coupled with the escalating cost of doing business made it impossible to keep the restaurant open.

Mr. Kreisler said that his chef has relocated to Manhattan, but he has not yet found a location to reopen the restaurant.

“We would be duplicating what we do out there, it would be just more of an audience,” he said of a future venture.

Meanwhile, the owners of The Lodge, which replaced The Laundry on Race Lane, quietly closed up shop in early March. The entire staff of The Lodge has moved to the former location of Bostwick’s on Three Mile Harbor Road, and will reopen as the Boathouse in early April.

“We’re about ready to go after Easter weekend,” said owner Michael Gluckman. “We’re going to open with a big party for the whole town.”

Mr. Gluckman said that the restaurant has been completely remodeled and is twice the size of Bostwick’s, with mahogany trim, white wainscotting and a double-sided bar with a wood-burning fireplace in the middle of the bar.

The menu will be similar to that at Bostwick’s, with an emphasis on fresh seafood. Mr. Gluckman said that he plans to welcome boaters from Harbor Marina, and will sell boxed lunches, beer and ice.

“It will be a fun, casual atmosphere, family friendly, with hopefully a large nightlife scene,” he said. “It will be open seven days per week year-round, with lunch daily in the warmer months, and a Sunday brunch buffet on the bay.”

Mr. Gluckman said that he had been interested in Bostwick’s waterfront location since hearing that the long-time restaurant had closed last year, but wasn’t ready to make the jump until “a gentleman from New York City came by and made an offer we couldn’t refuse.”

That gentleman, Jay Plumeri, owns two restaurants, Plumeri and 41 Greenwich Avenue, both of which serve northern Italian cuisine, in New York. Mr. Plumeri could not be reached for comment this week.

Another Italian restaurant, Serafina East Hampton, is moving into the space formerly occupied by Matto at 104 North Main Street.

The Serafina Restaurant Group, owned by Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato, owns five variations on pizza and pasta restaurants throughout New York, and has also partnered with other restaurateurs on three ventures into Japanese fusion, French and Mexican food in New York.

The two chefs made a pact to open their first restaurant, Serafina Famous Pizza in midtown Manhattan, when they were both lost at sea on a small sailboat off the Long Island coast.

“Finally we will open in East Hampton, close to where Fabio and I came up with the idea to open a restaurant together when we were lost at sea,” said Mr. Assaf. “We will incorporate local ingredients into our regular menu to enhance the quality of our food and to support the local suppliers.”

“Serafina East Hampton will be open all year long so that people can always come with their friends and families to eat with us,” said Mr. Granato. “We always welcome everybody to our restaurants, we are looking forward to seeing many locals at Serafina East Hampton.”

Serafina East Hampton is expected to open in mid-May.

Farther east, there were confirmations this week that hotelier Sean MacPherson has bought The Crow’s Nest in Montauk, while the Sunset Saloon on Navy Road is scheduled to reopen as Navy Road this spring.

Representatives from both restaurants could not be reached for comment.

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I guess the $25 dollar hot dog didn't work out for the Laundry. It didn't quite catch on with the locals.
By Mets fan (1485), Southampton on Apr 7, 10 8:57 AM
3 members liked this comment
Add the Laundry to the growing list of hometown institutions that we have lost... pretty soon the mom and pop shops will be called Lauren, Tahari, Crew ... and who will know the difference?
By Nancy Q. (27), east Hampton on Apr 7, 10 11:36 AM
Ever since the Spring Close restaurant shut down that location has been cursed. They should never have moved from their prior location
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Apr 7, 10 1:32 PM
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