Vacationers have turned the Hamptons into a year-round home. Cases followed.


In the shadow of New York’s oldest lighthouse, summer in the Hamptons and Montauk once meant strawberry ice cream cones from a family store, and Necco wafers and Pop Rocks from a candy store known for its fudge. For locals, an influx of new faces would fade in early fall.

By winter, commercial areas were dotted with dark storefronts as vacationers retreated to the boroughs of New York City and beyond. Snow would cover a softened landscape of the East End, locking in its residents all year round for a season of their own.

“That dichotomy of life is kind of over,” said Jason Biondo, 47, a longtime Montauk resident and local builder who upgraded the lighthouse keeper’s quarters several years ago.

In the face of the pandemic, much of the summer crowd that fled Manhattan to the Hamptons stayed, and the residential real estate swell sparked a business shift. From health care to catering, new businesses have sprung up in the Hamptons. While more healthcare facilities are welcome, feelings are mixed about some of the new restaurants.

“I could probably count on one hand, the places between East Hampton, Amagansett, Montauk and Springs, it’s a really affordable place to take all your kids to dinner where you’re not wasting $300,” Mr. Biondo said. “I’m not complaining, because I’m also reaping the benefits as a builder, am I? So I won’t bite the hand that feeds me; but it is impossible to ignore the elephant in the room.”

From April 2010 to April 2021, the population of the City of East Hampton, which includes the Hamlet of Montauk, increased from 21,457 to 28,385, an increase of 32%. according to U.S census data. In Southampton, the population grew by around 22%, from 56,790 to 69,036, over the same period.

The New York Times spoke to major hospitals and small business owners about their decision to follow people into the summer resort area.

NYU Langone Health has a Westhampton facility underway, having opened a 3,500 foot ambulatory care facility in Bridgehampton in May 2021.

“We really saw the opportunity there long before the pandemic hit, and we felt there was a real need for quality health care in the East End of Long Island,” said Vicki Match Suna, Executive Vice President and Vice Dean of Real Estate Development. and NYU Langone Health facilities.

The hospital’s Bridgehampton lease, in a prominent corner along the Bridgehampton portion of the Montauk Highway, began in June 2019.

“Most of what’s available are small retail spaces, which really didn’t work for us and our use; availability was therefore limited and it took us some time to find a site that we thought could meet our needs,” Ms. Suna said.

At the Bridgehampton facility, NYU Langone Health has attempted to incorporate the culture of the region: interior walls are decorated with artwork by local artists. Accent pieces are made from driftwood, sea glass, and other local materials native to the beach community.

Tiffany LaBanca-Madarasz saw a “For Rent” sign on a Montauk storefront that for decades housed the toy store, “A Bit of Everything,” and took the opportunity to open her own business in July 2021. Poppy Heart is a boutique, café, gallery and art studio – a one-stop shop for creativity and community and a hub for Ms. LaBanca-Madarasz, who worked as communications and employee engagement manager for PayPal for two years after 25 years in the communications industry.

Although she raised her two children in Manhattan, Ms. LaBanca-Madarasz said her family rents a house every summer in Montauk.

“I rented when my kids were growing up, every summer, so it was always on our minds, like, ‘This is our happy place, this is where we’ll eventually come full time,'” Ms. LaBanca- Madarasz mentioned. “With Covid and the kids going to college, we thought, ‘let’s speed this plan up and see if we can actually buy a house.'”

She said turning 50 gave her a new perspective. “I was really ready for something bigger, more interesting and entrepreneurial, and Poppy Heart was born.”

Poppy Heart brings consistency to an area accustomed to a seasonal cadence. “There really isn’t much to do in Montauk, especially off season and on rainy days, so I built it for Montauk,” she said. “You can paint pottery, you can paint canvas, you can play with clay, you can make jewelry.”

A section of the store is called “A Little Bit of Everything” and sells nostalgic toys to pay homage to its predecessor.

As an established restaurant owner, Donna Lennard for years resisted bringing Il Buco al Mare to the Hamptons. The right opportunity, however, presented itself when the pandemic occurred.

“It certainly wasn’t planned before,” Ms Lennard said of the pandemic, insisting she still didn’t want to operate a restaurant in the same location as she owned a country home. “It was my feet in the mud, intractable Donna, no way, no how am I ever going to have a restaurant where I go to relax.”

Ms. Lennard dipped her toes first, with a Summer 2020 pop-up at the Marram Hotel in Montauk. She describes it as “almost like a small gazebo, with about 80 seats outside on a large deck overlooking the ocean.”

At the end of the summer, the members of the Il Buco team told him that they were happy in the East. An acquaintance had offered to show Mrs. Lennard a space in Amagansett more than once, and she had declined.

“We had about a dozen people working in Montauk, and they said, ‘Let’s go see the space in Amagansett,'” she said. “So we did, and everyone loved it, and we made an offer, and they rejected our offer. So I was like, phew!

In January, Mrs. Lennard had the same knowledge to have a drink in front of a fire. She asked who had taken the place and found out that the deal fell through. As of Memorial Day 2021, Il Buco al Mare was open for business in Amagansett.

Mrs. Lennard has definitely warmed up to the new location. “Kicking and screaming, I really embraced it.”

“It’s a natural progression, I think, that over the last couple of years a lot of medical buildings have popped up,” said Aaron Curti, broker Douglas Elliman who leased space at Weill Cornell Medicine to open a clinic. last summer.

Mr Curti, who has lived in the East End year-round for 25 years, said with the Hamptons having become a full-time community for many of its residents, full-service medical facilities were badly needed.

During the pandemic, he added, Weill Cornell learned that many of their doctors and employees also had homes in the area.

The clinic, which occupies 4,000 square feet of space at the highly visible corner of Montauk Highway and Flying Point Road, was designed to promote the well-being of patients and staff while respecting the natural elements of the location. , said Emil Martone, design director of the organization. and construction in capital planning.

The new practice specializes in primary care — internal medicine and family care — and reproductive medicine. Weill Cornell Medicine plans to offer additional specialties as needed, potentially including dermatology and cardiology, according to a representative from the organization.

At Kissaki, a Manhattan restaurant that opened a Watermill location in June 2020, the omakase counter experience can cost around $100 per person or more. But prices vary depending on location.

“I’m sure not everyone living in Southampton is interested in paying $200 per person to dine out,” said restaurant operations manager Justin Marquez. “There’s probably a bit of back and forth with locals about what’s a reasonable everyday meal.”

The need to adapt is familiar to Team Kissaki. The first location in Kissaki, Manhattan, opened in January 2020 and closed in March — “along with the rest of the city,” Marquez said. The owner and chef partner has pivoted, creating a successful take-out business. They decided to open a branch of Kissaki in the Hamptons for a number of reasons, including declining rents in the area.

“In June 2020, many Hamptons owners were ready to be more flexible on pricing,” he said.

Kissaki, which also opened “O by Kissaki” in East Hampton in August 2021, is also working on its flexibility.

“In order to be good partners for the local community, we are aggressively re-evaluating our pricing structure to ensure that we are not just there for the high season and to take advantage of tourists, but that we are there as a good partner providing a good quality product all year round,” said Marquez.

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