New NightLife Targets A Different Hamptons Crowd - 27 East

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New NightLife Targets A Different Hamptons Crowd

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Rows of carrots at Early Girl Farm in East Moriches.

Rows of carrots at Early Girl Farm in East Moriches.

author on Apr 26, 2011

The Hamptons nightlife scene has a reputation that’s star-studded and crawling with 20-something-year-olds, even though that image couldn’t be further from the actual demographic on the East End.

But in the midst of the dance clubs that cater to the young, there are several up-and-coming hot spots that have just opened here, which might be of interest for those East Enders who are young at heart but not a few years removed from their teens. Two of the establishments are geared toward the 30-and-up crowd and another boasts a retro feel.

Buoy One owner Robert Pollifrone said last week that by summer’s end, his Westhampton Beach fish house will be at the front of the pack with its “Buoy Nights”—which he sang to the tune of Heatwave’s “Boogie Nights,” with a grin.

“When your brain’s still thinking you’re 22 and your body’s not that sure, this is the place your body would rather be,” he said.

Every Saturday night, the restaurant’s dining room turns into a dancing haven for the 30-and-over crowd. After dinner finishes up around 11 p.m., Mr. Pollifrone and his busboys clear out 17 tables in about 15 minutes to make room for a disc jockey, who spins Top 40 songs from the 1970s to today, in chronological order.

“Usually, by the time he gets to today’s stuff, everyone’s pretty sauced up so it doesn’t matter at that point,” he said. “They can be 60 years old and have never heard the song. And they jam to it anyway. They’re not afraid to dance because they’re already past the point of being embarrassed. They don’t care who’s looking, they just come out and have a good time.”

Mr. Pollifrone, who also owns Buoy One in Riverhead, opened the Westhampton Beach restaurant last December, he reported. He kicked off Buoy Nights the first weekend in April. Though the night isn’t a money-maker yet, Mr. Pollifrone said he isn’t worried. Eleven years ago, he started the same idea at 75 Main in Southampton, he said, and by August of the inaugural year, it was the place to be, he said.

“People like to have fun,” he said. “There’s so much shit going on in this world right now, people just want to go out and have a good time. If I can be that place, I’ll be that place.”

But the club scene isn’t for everyone, pointed out Lillian Schon, who recently started hosting a singles mixer at The Inn on Main in Westhampton Beach, which she has owned with her husband, Bill, for the last eight years.

“It’s springtime, and love is in the air,” she said while working on a client’s hairdo at Lillian’s Hair Salon & Spa, which she also owns and has run for 18 years.

From behind the salon chair, Ms. Schon said she has heard many a love story, but not all of them have happy endings, which is one of the reasons for the mixer, she said.

“What people tell me stays in the salon, it doesn’t go anywhere, but there are a lot of widows and divorced clients of mine who hate the bars and the clubs, and so we decided to start this mixer,” she said.

Singles age 30 and older can register online for the mixer, which is held from 7 to 9 p.m. one Thursday a month at the inn. Admission is $25 at the door and the entry fee includes an evening of speed dating, wine and cheese tasting, and cappuccinos.

“Everyone is very friendly and people continue their conversations well into the night,” Ms. Schon said. “Last month, it was supposed to be over at 9 and they were here until about 10. The pianist even stopped playing, so I put a CD on and they stayed. They were having such a great time.”

The idea was supposed to be just a way of drumming up business during the slow winter months, Ms. Schon said. But due to the mixer’s success, she said the event will continue through the summer. She plans to hire a disc jockey and will move the mixer outside on the deck when it’s warm enough.

“Every singles night I know of is west of here, so there’s definitely a need for it, I see it all the time,” she said. “I’m trying to help people to be happy. I’m making them look good first and then making them feel good.”

And for a more mature crowd looking for an evening less intimate than speed dating and more laid back than a dance club, there’s also the new hotspot 230 Down. The basement hangout of Tim Burke’s 230 Elm in Southampton hosts a retro bar and stage, as well as bar games like pool, darts, foosball, ping-pong and even Wii bowling.

“If you don’t want to go to a nightclub and want to have a good time, meet a lot of fun people and be in a game room where there’s something to do, that’s us,” Mr. Burke said last week. “To those people who don’t want to wait until 11:30, 12 to go out, it’s a fabulous alternative and there’s nobody out here doing this like this.”

Mr. Burke opened up 230 Down just a few months ago, he said, adding that it’s still in a transitional phase.

“It’s here to stay,” he emphasized. “But it will probably have a different look, an upgraded look,” he added.

The building dates back to 1931, and when Mr. Burke opened up his catering business inside two years ago, he said the venue was in a state of disrepair. After adding on a new roof and fixing up the interior, he decided to give the building’s basement—a defunct bowling alley from 1956 that he was using for storage space—a massive face-lift.

“I furnished it, bought a couple video projectors and here we are,” he said. “To me, I’m like, ‘Oh my god, how cool is this?’ I tried to keep the essence of what’s going here, but, you know, sometimes people want a little spark. You’ve gotta mix the old with the new.”

Doors at 230 Down open every day at 4 p.m. and close when everyone wants to leave, Mr. Burke said. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the bar is open for happy hour, featuring 2-for-1 drink specials. And every Wednesday from 7 to 10 p.m., the stage is home to an open mic night.

“I’m going to be taking advantage of the weekend crowds coming out and taking advantage of the locals, too,” Mr. Burke said. “I want to appeal to both. I want to be a melting pot.”

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