James Willis and Chef Sebastian Royo Open Harbor East in East Hampton

James Willis
James Willis, Photo: Courtesy Harbor East

Restaurateur James Willis brings metropolitan taste to the fine dining world of East Hampton this summer with Harbor East. Andrew Molen, who is director of Business Development for celebrity chef Todd English, and Chef Sebastian Royo join Willis in the new venture.

The menu is described as “traditional beach food,” with a twist of a Mediterranean, Australian and American all mixed in one dish. Main dishes focus on local fresh fish, shellfish and produce.

Willis, who founded Ruby’s Cafe, Kingswood and Brinkley’s in New York City, as well as opening the Southside nightclub in 2008, is not new to the food environment.

“We take great pride in sourcing sustainable seafood and fresh local products, which are the foundation and backbone to our cuisine,” Willis says, adding, “My inspiration for the physical restaurant is a fusion of all the design aesthetics I’ve loved on my many travels—the charm of the South of France, the tropical jungle vibe of Indonesia, the slick nautical vibe of Sydney Harbor and the crisp, sharp design of coastal New England…”

With Willis’ mind set on a special kind of cuisine, Chef Sebastian Royo lands as the perfect pairing at the hopeful Hamptons hotspot. Royo started at Per Se, Eleven Madison, La Esquina, ilili and Myriad, and he now owns El Rudo, an eclectic modern spin on Mexican Street food in Dallas, Texas.

Chef Sebastian Royo
Chef Sebastian Royo, Photo: Courtesy Harbor East

Also in the mix, businessman Andrew Molen has worked all over the Big Apple, from Chez Josephine, Southgate Restaurant and Todd English Food Hall (at the Plaza Hotel) to Restaurant Gordon Ramsay at The London Hotel. He is currently working for Todd English Enterprises.

These three seasoned industry pros have come together to launch Harbor East, which promises to be a hot new restaurant and after hours scene.

“I want Harbor East to be a welcoming haven where the vibe moves seamlessly through summer lunches into cocktails, continuing to dinner and a chic after dark scene. The perfect ending to a great Hamptons day,” Willis explains. “For the model and brand of Harbor East, in terms of food and service, top hospitality operator Andrew Molen and Chef Royo were at the top of my list to execute our vision. We are excited to join forces.”

Harbor East, located at 44 Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton, is open Thursday–Saturday from 5–11 p.m. through the end of June. After July 4 weekend, brunch will be served on Sundays through Labor Day weekend. In July and August dinner will be served Friday–Sunday. Call 631-408 5771 or visit harboreasthampton.com.

A nice spread at Harbor East
A nice spread at Harbor East, Photo: Courtesy Harbor East

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