Q&A: Restaurateur Richie Notar of Harlow Sag Harbor and Manhattan

Richie Notar of the new Sag Harbor restaurant Harlow, on the Long Wharf.
Richie Notar of the new Sag Harbor restaurant Harlow, on the Long Wharf.

Restaurateur Richie Notar—of Nobu and Studio 54 fame—has a lot on his plate. In addition to running his thriving midtown restaurant, Harlow, he’s working on opening a jazz lounge and bakery in Harlem as well as a much buzzed about East End venture in the former Sag Harbor B. Smith’s space, to also be named Harlow.

We caught up with the power player to find out more about what he’s got in the works.

When did the idea for Harlow come about?

Only when I walked into the empty space; it was site specific and I came up with the concept only after seeing the property. When a friend showed me the space on 56th and Park, I happened to be feeling nostalgic about the New York I experienced in the late ’70s—when I was a kid driving for Steve Rubell—places like Regine’s with bit of glamor. The room was built by Randolph Hearst for Marion Davies, that history excited me so I designed a modern day New York chic restaurant.

How do you anticipate the two Harlow locations will compare?

We will use the same team headed by Chef Danny Ye and Director of Operations Sean Dillon. They know the lay of the land in the Hamptons so consistency and familiarity is something we feel we will bring to that space as well. We’ll feature our most popular dishes from the city and utilize the wonderful bounty found locally.

How would you describe the crowd?

Something I learned and kept with me from my Studio 54 days was that we like a mixed and eclectic group of loyal customers. It keeps things interesting because people go out for more than a meal, they want an experience and people watching is part of that. Additionally, I know a lot of people who keep their boats in the marina outside the restaurant, so we plan on servicing the boats.

Will the menus be the same? Can you highlight some of your favorite dishes?

The menu will be similar, oyster bar, our popular branzino and crudo dishes, but the summer season brings such a goldmine of product, so the menu will be summer-centric as the season goes on with loads of surprises!

How does the New York dining scene compare to the Hamptons?

The Hamptons is a condensed area with a captive audience. The interesting thing though is, since it’s seasonal, it’s hard to find staffing and so is a playground for some very prominent people, good service is hard to come by. There are some very good chefs, though, utilizing the local ingredients and putting some good food out. I’m fortunate to have staff from the city come out and help improve the service.

Can you single out some of your favorite spots in the Hamptons?

I tend to like the simple spots like The Clam Bar or Babette’s for breakfast. Nick and Toni’s is somewhere I go for a proper meal, they’ve been here for ages and do a great job and they always treat me well, they’re all good people. Honestly I like to cook at home for family and friends. Now I won’t be doing much of any of that with Harlow opening.

What’s an ideal day in the Hamptons for you?

First thing in the morning a walk on the beach before it gets too crowded. I LOVE the walking dunes in Napeague too. Then a swim in the ocean with my family, shop for food, open a bottle of wine and prepare a meal at home and lounge around the pool. At dusk go to the beach and watch the sunset with an Aperol Spritz and my wife Jane. Perfecto!

Anything in the works you can tell us about aside from Harlow?

Yes, loads. I’m building and designing the Harlem project to be opened in the fall, a very cool Wynwood, Miami spot in development and London. Also some quick casual concepts that I always wanted to do, all of which I’m excited about!

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