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Erdem Does $100,000 in Business in Record-breaking Southampton Night

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“Southampton is for sporting rich; Bridgehampton is for nearly rich; East Hampton is for the very rich,” remarked author Steven Gaines who has studied the culture of excess in the United States, specifically focusing on the Hamptons and South Beach.  While East Hampton might be the wealthiest, Montauk and Southampton are by far superior in terms of nightlife.

Lieba Nesis

The Hamptons has become nearly as famous for its after-hours activities as it is for its beaches as restaurant after restaurant opens along with clubs, bars and lounges.  In fact, renowned restaurant Tutto Il Giorno in Sag Harbor has now morphed into a club after midnight with over one hundred people joining Donna Karan this past weekend as her son-in-law Gianpaolo De Felice DJ’ed to an enthusiastic crowd.
Another Hamptonite who has taken advantage of the thriving nightlife scene is hospitality entrepreneur Zach Erdem whose name is synonymous with Southampton.  Erdem emigrated from Turkey to the US at age 21 and started his career as a dishwasher at Southampton’s 75 Main, worked his way up to busboy and bartender until he was chosen by restaurateur Nello Balan to become General Manager of Nello’s from 2003 to 2009 before being unceremoniously fired.  In 2010 he was approached by investors to run restaurant 75 Main which he now owns along with Restaurant Blu Mar at 136 Main St. which just received its liquor license allowing club AM to move there this weekend.  Last year Erdem ran AM Southampton at 125 Tuckahoe Lane; however, when the Landlord requested $250,000 in annual rent he was forced to vacate.  Erdem works seven days and nights a week as I have observed  him picking up garbage at AM Southampton at the early hour of 4 in the morning. AM Southampton at 125 Tuckahoe Lane has now been taken over by the Hedge Club which has failed to gain its footing with a nearly empty Memorial Day weekend opening.
This past weekend Erdem was minding 75 Main which he now owns with a massive smile on his face.  “How’s the nightlife scene in the Hamptons?” I nosely inquired.  “Well,” Erdem remarked, “on the Saturday night of Memorial Day I did over $100,000 in business-a record”.  The cheapest table at club AM is $3,000 and Erdem revealed that one partygoer spent more than $14,000 on bottles.  When I asked who his favorite celebrity customer was he responded that Joe Biden was like family recalling how he patiently waited for a table last summer despite Erdem offering him priority seating.  Erdem’s main competitor is Southampton Social Club which is located at 256 Elm Street and exemplifies the rarely used aphorism “white men can dance.”  This locale attracts men in their mid-20’s from affluent families who come to dine, drink and dance-and these guys can bust a move.  Each time I visit this hot spot I am astounded by the breakdancing of these preppy looking guys.
Some other musical venues worth mentioning include The Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett which has lines down the block and a $20-$40 cover charge (the same as Southampton Social Club).  The Talkhouse which opened in 1970 has hosted Paul McCartneyBilly Joel and The Allman Brothers and this summer will have cover bands, karaoke nights and reggae performances with tickets available online.  While Sag Harbor has made a slight footprint on the scene with Murf’s Tavern, Page at 63 Main, and the overhyped and played out Bilboquet it is Montauk that continues to sizzle each year as twenty somethings descend on this destination area.   Precisely because Montauk remains the hardest to reach it has become an enclave for the rich and famous to gather with abandon as the Surf ClubSloppy Tuna, and Ruschmeyer’s continue to dominate the landscape.
After a decade of fighting between the Town of East Hampton and the Surf Lodge there is a new reservations policy in effect to prevent large crowds on the roadway with capacity being capped at 395 and musical acts being forced to conclude at 8 PM with a maximum two hour per day of playing time.  Sloppy Tuna will continue to rage this summer as the four partners remain in an ongoing legal battle over title to the $5.3 million property, occupancy rights, and ownership of the trademark and logo of the grinning sunglass clad tuna fish-why can’t we all get along.  Some other less contentious places include the renowned Gurney’s Inn which contains a comprehensive spa and restaurant Scarpetta, The Point, Memory Motel, Grey Lady and Swallow East.  Many of these bars are open past 4 AM and are jammed on weekends with rowdy millennials seeking to blow off some steam.
One of my favorite little known clubs is Beach Bar in Hampton Bays which recently celebrated its 25th summer at its Foster Avenue location.  Yes, the crowds are blind drunk and more than one fight will most certainly break out; however, these Hampton locals know how to party with a contagious recklessness.  Whatever happened to the house parties that the Hamptons was formerly celebrated for? with parking permits and noise and capacity regulations becoming increasingly onerous these gatherings have become nearly extinct to the chagrin of many summer residents.

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