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Feb 17, 2015 10:35 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Winston's Bar And Grill To Replace Nichol's In East Hampton In March

Feb 17, 2015 3:16 PM

With reggae blasting, new wood floors in place and a ton of cleaning in front of him, chef Winston Lyons was busy at work inside his new restaurant on Montauk Highway one day last week.

Mr. Lyons was doing the heavy lifting so he can open Winston’s Bar & Grill on March 22 in the building that Nichol’s of East Hampton used to occupy.

Yet the debut of Mr. Lyons’s authentic Caribbean restaurant could be interrupted briefly if the building’s owner—James Fischer, whose family has owned it since the early 1970s when it was The Quiet Clam—decides to demolish it and construct a new one, which could happen some time in the next year. Although the building is being fixed up for the new restaurant, Mr. Fischer said he expects to rebuild because the current structure is aging.

Until then, the building will be revamped and the restaurant will offer seafood, steak and a selection of Caribbean dishes, including Mr. Lyons’s signature jerk chicken—reminiscent of the food he cut his teeth on while working as a chef in Jamaica. On Thursdays, he plans to have Red Stripe and Wing nights, which would consist of a Jamaican lager and all different kinds of chicken wings being served. He also plans to have a full bar with cocktails.

“The motivation and excitement about cooking and entertaining people is a piece of my culture,” he said last Wednesday, February 11, while sitting in Winston’s dining room. “I want people to feel really comfortable. This is an opportunity to do it my way.”

Although Winston’s will be his first restaurant, Mr. Lyons is no stranger to cooking nor to East Hampton.

While he was in college studying for a degree in engineering, he took a summer job at a restaurant and fell in love with creating and serving food.

“It was the smell and the passion that took over my entire emotion,” he said. “I said to my Mom, ‘I want to go to cooking school because I love what I saw today.’”

He left engineering behind and immediately enrolled in cooking school and worked in several large hotel restaurants before coming to East Hampton in 1994. He began as a line cook at the East Coast Oyster Bar and went on to Turtle Crossing, East Hampton Point and, most recently, East Hampton Grill. In total, Mr. Lyons has been cooking for 32 years.

Although cooking runs in his family, he said he really learned the value of serving quality food after working in so many hotel restaurants.

The menu may change from time to time, so that “people do not get bored,” Mr. Lyons said.

Even though he’ll own the business, Mr. Lyons will also be chef because he’s been cooking his entire life and doesn’t see himself ever stopping.

Mr. Lyons said the location of his new restaurant is perfect.

“It is close to the road, which is an ideal location for an entrepreneur just starting out,” he said. “I know I can lift it up to a better standing than what was here, so I am motivated to see if I can give people my kind of cooking and my kind of service that I present.”

However, since the building is in such disrepair, Mr. Fischer said he hopes to tear it down and start over.

“The building was left in quite a horrendous condition,” Mr. Fischer said. “Winston has done a fabulous job cleaning it up and redoing the floors, which had to be done in order to get it open. He’s moving along pretty quickly.”

Mr. Lyons said the interior of the building would stay the same because it wouldn’t make sense to put more money into it if it is just going to be bulldozed. He added that he hopes to one day make it his own, with Caribbean touches.

Mr. Fischer said he can’t commit past this year with Mr. Lyons because he needs to see what he gets approvals for with demolition and reconstruction, but he said Mr. Lyons would have the option of being in the new building. Some of the employees from Nichol’s may also be able to come back, but that will be a decision for Mr. Lyons.

“Mr. Lyons was an old client of mine that I’ve known for a number of years from East Hampton Grill,” Mr. Fischer said. “I’m looking forward to it. Winston has a great work ethic and I do know the place is going to be clean and a little change from what it was. He’s all excited about getting it open.”

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So let me understand...Get rid of a great restaurant (Nichols) to try a new restaurant that does not have a chance to succeed because landlord wants to bulldoze building down. Seems like a big waste of time. So Winston will lose his shirt and then sometime in the future there will be a new building with a restaurant that has no character like where Wei fun was. History will repeat itself and nothing will work in this location again. Landlord seems like a smart guy. (Not)
By SagHarborResident (1), East hampton on Feb 21, 15 2:04 PM