Privilege Pays - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2045992

Privilege Pays

While it is typical at the end of an article, a chapter, or a tale to say thank you, in this case we would like to begin by expressing our gratitude. Thank you to our Henri at Coopers Beach guests, our true supporters, the friends and family and past board members who took a gamble on a local family, a Shinnecock entrepreneur and his wife, looking to bring our small-business idea to life by incorporating our family’s local, yet diverse, ethnic backgrounds into our beach fare.

Thank you to my mother-in-law, Gaby, whom many of you knew prepandemic, when you could order inside the concession, solely by the top of her hairnet behind the high countertop as she commanded and constructed thousands of Vietnamese sandwiches and fish tacos within the confines of a tiny, often steamy kitchen space, despite her 4-foot-9-inch stature. Without her, and our hardworking staff, most of which are Shinnecock family members, we would not have been able to operate the past five years. We are so proud of you.

We all worked, day to day, at the most beautiful beach in the country, perhaps the world, to enhance every beachgoer’s experience, yet barely touched the sand or felt the sun’s rays ourselves. It was worth it.

Unfortunately, we feel we are mourning the death of the true small-business owners of Southampton. Those with financial means, or strategic nepotism ties, get preferred treatment.

The Coopers Beach concession is not your average quick-service restaurant to be staffed and operated as a McDonald’s or Burger King. You can’t just slap a higher salary and toss in unfamiliar employees and expect the high standards to be met by Coopers’ discerning clientele.

But what it has ultimately come down to is money. While it may not be illegal, per se, it is certainly unethical and, dare we say, more than that. Just because there may not be intention or conscious motivation, that does not mean that there is an absence of systemic racism, socio-economic disparity and serious privilege involved here.

We lost our bid to the brother-in-law of the village administrator. The administrator has been our direct point of contact for all things involving payments and finances, our confidante regarding potential lease negotiations/extensions, and a trusted official. That is, until her brother-in-law was cued to toss his hat into the ring.

One must question board members’ motives and how this truly benefits the community in the long run.

We look forward to seeing your faces at Main Prospect, our restaurant in Southampton Village, and stay tuned for our, soon-to-be unveiled, Vietnamese inspired cold brew coffee. Thank you again to all your support. We love you.

Lauren Mallor and Binh Douglas