The property at 91 Hill Street in Southampton sits on five acres in the historic village. Dede Moan owns this piece of beautiful property, also known as Southampton Inn, which has been a haven of relaxation and enjoyment for locals and visitors alike. Indy caught up with Moan to learn about the Inn and its community connections.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in New York City and Hampton Bays. The ocean beaches didn’t have concession stands, and we bicycled everywhere — even across Montauk Highway. My appreciation of Long Island’s beauty stayed with me, and I have called the Hamptons my second home for years.
Why the village of Southampton?
My family bought a house in 1951, and I have spent almost all of my summers and much of the off season in and around Southampton. The purchase of the inn in 1997 was, in part, an excuse to be able to spend summers with my children out of Manhattan and also work. I hadn’t totally factored in the snowy January days.
How did you get involved with Southampton Inn?
In 1997, an East End realtor asked me to assist in preparing a sales package for the Southampton Inn and its adjacent commercial property known as International Plaza. I put together the financial statements and a sale brochure, and I made an offer to purchase it myself.
I never decided to run a hotel or restaurant. The inn project was going to be a fixer-upper and flip, but in 2008 the market was challenging and the Wall Street world (and many of our repeat corporate conference customers) was falling apart. I hired myself as general manager at that time and here I am, 10 years later, at the helm. The restaurant was breakfast and seasonal poolside lunch for 19 years — and then it became a dinner and private party venue as a way to support the hotel during the winter months.
What did you do previously?
I was a loan officer at Chase Manhattan Bank, managed an urban renewal portfolio at the New York State UDC, was director of investment sales at Julien Studley real estate brokers, and was a partner in the Kaempfer Company, real estate developer in Washington, DC.
How has the restaurant changed with the evolving town?
Our restaurant, Claude’s, opened summer of 2018, and we have award-winning Chef James Carpenter creating delightful menus for our guests and catered events. It has won seven awards during its first few months of being open.
What makes Claude’s particularly unique?
Claude’s has a superb chef, wonderful foods, affordable prices, gracious service, and a pretty room inside or, weather permitting, outside. It is quite off the beaten path and is quiet enough to talk during a meal, welcoming to large tables, has plenty of parking, and lots of personality.
It seems to do best when it is used by community members and groups for their own private parties, holidays, birthdays, family reunions, and corporate meetings. Artist shows, book signings, piano teacher recitals, nonprofit fundraisers . . . the list goes on. And we hope that more locals will visit, enjoy, and return as the best part of a restaurant, other than the great food and wine, has to be the people and ambiance.
How has this business changed your life?
The purchase and subsequent role as manager of the Southampton Inn changed my life from a Manhattan based real estate entrepreneur and consultant to a hotelier. It was certainly nothing that I had studied in school or planned for.
How have you seen the area change over the years?
Southampton has become more chic and trendy, and less of “the country” that my parents fell in love with almost 70 years ago. But it still offers amazing light, beautiful beaches, magnificent homes, and swimming, and tennis, and golf, and bicycle riding, and surfing, and fishing, and hiking, and farms, and wineries, and music, and art, and repertory theatre, and friends. It had been a very rural and very beachy community and has evolved into more of a year-round community with many wonderful things to do.
Describe the evolution of the Southampton Inn.
The Southampton Inn has been renovated annually for 20 years. When I first purchased it, I redid 90 rooms and bathrooms in 90 days. I then spent six months, after the summer season, building the library octagon room with the fireplace and digging out the “lower level” to create conference rooms and a proper restaurant.
Over 20 years, the colors have changed, the furniture packages and soft goods have changed, the gardens have grown, and the swimming pool and tennis court were replaced. But it is still 90 guest rooms surrounded by beautiful gardens and lawns that welcome visitors to Southampton year-round.
Any notable moments that guests would be interested to learn about?
There have been so many historic moments in such an historic place! I remember having my office taken over by FBI and secret service when the President (secretly) visited the Hamptons. And having Dennis Rodman hold court on the pool patio drinking vodkas and entertaining the staff for hours.
We have had dogs walk brides down the aisle. And a young musician, whose parents rented a piano and bench to be moved into a guest room for a four-day visit. And the cast of a TV program where the Fonz [Henry Winkler] gave me a hug and a kiss. And many movie shoots (yes, Keanu Reeves stayed at the inn). But mostly, lots of lovely and interesting guests from all over the world who come back year after year to see their Inn friends on the same weeks.
In what ways does Southampton Inn connect with the community?
We partner with the Southampton Cultural Center (dinner or brunch and a theater ticket); we support Pianofest of the Hamptons by offering our guests tickets to Avram Hall concerts as part of their Monday overnight stays. We provide passes for our guests to the unique programming and also fantastic cocktail events at the Southampton History Museum. And we provide access to environmental fundraisers and nonprofit galas throughout the year to support many important local organizations.
We also offer our facilities to the same local organizations — whether it’s authors reading their new releases, or pianists and music teachers providing concerts on the gorgeous glass and acrylic Euro Aire baby grand in Claude’s restaurant, or the meeting rooms with lunches or dinners afterwards for budgets and planning and networking. We love to be full of activity whether for our community members or for visitors to our area.
Describe the ways you incorporate your family life into business life.
It is always difficult to balance family life and professional work, but in the hospitality business, the hours can be flexible, the guests are almost always friendly, and the children learned to support their working mom. And of course, now they are adults! They go to Claude’s for dinner with friends.
What do you envision for the future?
For the future, the Inn is situated on approximately six acres with commercial buildings that would be wonderful to convert to another use. Perhaps a higher star rated hospitality product, rental housing for the community, or just more offices for local companies. I would very much like to convert the parking and road areas to gardens, reduce the impervious lot coverage, and create more of that “rural” ambience of the mid 20th Century. But that’s probably a few years off.
Visit www.southamptoninn.com or call 631-283-6500 for more information.