Southampton: Out of Class & Style?

Remember when Southampton used to be conservative, appropriate and full of people who knew how to use a knife and fork?

A flashy large blue mercedes filled with two hairy and heavy dark old men in front slows down on Main St. while chunky blonde girls in the back start to laugh loudly, drawing attention from guests dining at 75 Main. The horn honks loudly as they slow down and peer at some on lookers. Their music up loud and all of them appear out of place (including the Florida licensed plate Benz with it’s chromed rims). But wait, this is the new Southampton.

Brunch crack offends guests at Sant Ambroeus on a sunny Sunday afternoon (photo by Lana Smith)

I guess along with the failing class, lack of proper speech and etiquette comes failing businesses. I never thought I would see so many businesses “gone” from Southampton village. For those of us who have been frequenting the Hamptons regularly for several years, the disappearance of Saks Fifth Avenue from Main Street used to be the “out of business” talk of the town.

The former Saks Fifth Avenue building, one time staple in Southampton closed October 2010

Main Street close to the Golden Pear

Another empty shop

Difficult to imagine an empty space during high season

Running out of photo memory on my phone

I actually ran out of photo memory on my phone just before spotting another two locations “empty” but I felt a clear picture had been taken of Southampton economy. Zach Erdem, owner of 75 main manages to keep his place successful year round. In addition to full breakfast/brunch/lunch and dinner he turns the venue into an after hours club on Saturdays serving up bites to eat until midnight (smart). The recently renamed Nello’s to “Nammo’s” (go figure) which is now under partial new ownership (rumors are the big bellied Nello is still involved) seems to draw familiar faces like Justin Mitchell (owner of Social Life Magazine) and Michael Heller (PR/Media Guru). The segregation of the club vs. the restaurant which forces clients to enter from the back side parking lot is “different”. It used to be all one venue with entrance guaranteed through the main doors. We were a bit confused as we exited the restaurant and walked around the back to return inside again.

It’s always been about private dinners, parties and cocktail events at people’s homes or estates in the Hamptons. The restaurants and cafe’s were always a forum to refuel strength with bloody mary’s or mimosas in the morning and gossip about the next plan for the night, before heading off to the beach. Now it appears the loud blazing music from cheezy people in cars is mainsteam and commercialism is taking over the local more charming businesses, perhaps even aiding in their demise. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the summer looks like.