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Aug 5, 2009 1:03 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Four Seasons Caterer remakes Prospect Street farmhouse

Aug 5, 2009 1:03 PM

Catering companies and restaurants willing to cater private events are easy to come by on the South Fork, but dedicated on-site catering facilities are few and far between.

Seeing a need and an opportunity to expand her family business, Jean Mackenzie of Clamman Seafood Market seized a moment last year when John Duck Jr.’s, a restaurant housed in a 19th century Southampton Village farmhouse, went up for sale. She opened Four Seasons Caterer Southampton in its place and ran it on a low-key basis through the end of the year. She closed down after the holidays to put the farmhouse and its landscape through a major renovation that reimagined the former restaurant as a premier catering site, and has since reopened.

Ms. Mackenzie said she wanted Four Seasons to have a Southampton feel—fresh and clean—and the intimacy of an elegant home in the Hamptons.

“You’ve got a home that’s open to you to do whatever you want with it,” she said. It’s mostly white, so any color themes and decorations clients want for their events will mesh perfectly, she said, and the layout changes with each event.

This is her family’s second business in Southampton Village. Her late husband, Paul Koster, opened the Clamman Seafood Market in 1982. Mr. Koster died in March 2000, but Ms. Mackenzie and their children, Mackenzie, Roxanne and Cutter, carried on the business. Mackenzie Koster now serves as Four Seasons’ operations manager and Cutter, on break from college at SUNY Plattsburgh, has taken charge of the seafood market on North Sea Road.

“This summer he stepped up to the plate and is running that fish market like a champ,” Ms. Mackenzie said.

Roxanne Koster just graduated from the University of Hawaii.

When Four Seasons Caterer reopened on March 28, at the conclusion of the 11-week renovation, the first event Ms. Mackenzie put on was the 9th Annual Paul Koster Memorial Benefit, which this year supported the Have A Heart Community Trust, a Southampton Village-based charity.

Since then, from children’s parties and wedding receptions to club events and graduation parties, Four Seasons has opened its doors for a variety of events.

“I’m here to fill the needs of the community,” Ms. Mackenzie said. “There’s no place like this in the village.”

From the outside, Four Seasons, at 15 Prospect Street, looks almost as it did when it was known as John Duck Jr.’s Restaurant from 1946 until last year. The façade of the farmhouse has had a face-lift, with a new roof and siding, and a second-floor room was added, but its historical character, a trait that has defined the location, is intact. That was important to Ms. Mackenzie, who said that when she planned renovations to the aged building, to re-create it as a catering destination, she was very conscious of keeping all the exterior alterations in line with what was there.

The condition of the inside of the building, however, left her no choice but to put it through some major renovations. “When we opened the walls up, the wood was like paper,” Ms. Mackenzie recalled. Some old photographs and menus were still tacked up on the walls, under the drywall, she discovered.

The work included making all of the rooms level, eliminating the need for stairs or ramps, raising the ceiling, and removing some walls, so now the old Rotary room—where the Southampton Rotary Club met—the patio room and a former hallway are one big dining room.

“I did this entire project in 11 weeks,” Ms. Mackenzie said. “No one said I could do it.”

She also had new sound and heating and cooling systems installed and rear windows were replaced with French doors that lead out to a patio and steps to the garden.

The garden itself is also a new addition. Ms. Mackenzie said there were small rolling hills there. “It was unusable before, because there was no level space,” she said. There were also rotting trees that had to be removed, she added.

Now, there is a prim lawn surrounded by flowers, designed by Tish Rehill of Gardeneering.

A wedding was performed there and for children’s parties it has hosted bounce castles and snow cone machines, Ms. Mackenzie said.

Every Tuesday this summer, there is a “classic clambake” at the garden, with a fire pit on the lawn. When it gets late, guests roast marshmallows and make s’mores.

The clambake, for $49.95 a head, with a 10-percent discount for parties of six or more, is Four Seasons’ only open-to-the-public event.

For years, Clamman has been catering off-premise clambakes. Ms. Mackenzie said Four Seasons does off-premise catering as well and it is more sophisticated than what Clamman has done in the past.

Four Seasons’ executive chef is Jeremy Palmer, a former Star Boggs sous chef and the former co-owner of Palmer’s Restaurant in New Suffolk, on the North Fork. He ran it with his father, British chef Dennis Palmer, who has been a guest chef for Four Seasons.

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Talked to Jeannie when she took over the place last year. What a great woman she is. I wish her and the family success.
By guess who (6), Southampton on Aug 5, 09 7:57 PM
All the best.
By youteast (11), East Hampton on Aug 6, 09 7:43 AM
Very impressive
By jonnyhampton (29), Southampton on Aug 6, 09 10:41 PM
Had Easter brunch there this Spring with my family - great food. Miss the cole slaw, though.
By William Rodney (558), southampton on Aug 7, 09 10:58 AM
I remember sitting on that terrace watching a house burn down . I'm not sure , but I think it was a controlled burn to make way for the Our Lady of Poland School . I was probably about 5 at the time . ... AND YES ! years and years of sledding and snurfing ....and snowball fights ... and other general mischief !
Good Luck with the new place .
By AndersEn (173), Southampton on Aug 10, 09 9:25 PM
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