The Swamp Is No More

Stephen J. Kotz

East Hampton Town razed the Star Room in Wainscott last week, erasing the last remnants of once the most decadent gay establishment in East Hampton Town.

In its heyday in the late 1970s, the Swamp, housed in the same building that later was home to the Star Room, was wildly popular, extremely loud, open very late, and had a decidedly male clientele. Who was spotted there, and with whom, churned the gossip mill. Snappers popped, disco pumped, and the crowd inside the men’s room was every bit as visible as the crowd on the dance floor.

But whether walls can talk or not is now irrelevant. After the disco era waned, the property, which contained a second building called The Annex that also housed a bar, was shuttered for some time and resurfaced as The Star Room, a pricey restaurant owned by Scott Gray, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker and Scott Storbo, who did public relations for Saatchi & Saatchi.

The property, at 378 Montauk Highway, eventually sold to Isha Kaushik and other family members in 2007.

Though shut down, the property was occasional eyed by developers for other commercial uses, drawing concern from, among others, the Wainscott Advisory Committee. In 2012 a plan to open a car wash on the site materialized, and sentiment to use the Community Preservation Fund to buy it intensified. The town purchased the land from the Kaushiks for $2.1 million earlier this year, with $300,000 coming from the Georgica Pond Foundation and the rest from CPF.

Grimes Inc. was paid $72,000 to remove the buildings.

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