When you see a need, you feed it. That has long been the philosophy of restaurateur Ian Duke, who has served up style, hospitality and delicious fare for a decade here in the Hamptons. If you can feed that need with award-winning burgers and sumptuous sushi and steaks, and then add glorious fried chicken into the mix, well, then, all the better.
Duke’s Southampton Social Club is both the go-to night spot on the East End and a delicious dining destination. Union Burger Bar elevated the meat-meets-bun concept to new heights (if you’ve had the Breakfast Burger or the Union Double, you totally understand), along with giving a much-loved nod to local gastronomic history with Barrister’s Wednesdays. Union Sushi & Steak was an idea conceived before the pandemic hit, and became a welcome testament to perseverance and the ability of our local businesses to rise up against adversity—to say nothing of filling the void of a truly top-shelf steak house and sushi experience in Southampton Village—when it opened to acclaim this past June.
“You always want to be innovating, adapting, trying new things, seeing what people want and need and then coming up with a way to deliver on that,” Duke says. “You want to create an experience, something they’ll remember and that they can’t get anywhere else, and to do that, and do it well, sometimes you have to take chances.”
Chances like opening up yet another new dining venture this year. In December. In the Hamptons. “Yes, yes,” he says with a laugh. “I know, it sounds crazy. But that wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been called that. And that’s usually how to come up with something people really love. That and having a great team to work with.”
With that in mind, Duke and his team are bringing the concept of the ghost kitchen, which has been a thing in Manhattan for some time, to the Hamptons when they introduce The Coop. With Southampton Social Club closed for the season for regular business, the kitchen is a resource that Duke recognized could be put to a new use like never before. So Chef Mark Fasciana, working with Duke’s longtime culinary go-to guru Chef Scott Kampf, has been working on turning that kitchen into a place that will turn out incredible food on a to-go-only basis with a menu that you won’t find anywhere in the village.
“Just like we did with Union Burger Bar, and then Union Sushi & Steak, we really looked to see where there was a void to fill, and Southampton didn’t have a place dedicated to great fried chicken,” he says with a bit of wonder. Why wasn’t there such a spot? “I don’t know, but we are going to have one now, and at a time when we think the community will embrace it. ”
While Duke created the concept of Union Sushi & Steak to cater to guests looking for a high-end, inviting and safe indoor-dining experience and looks forward to hosting them, “I know that as we head into winter and colder weather, people are going to be looking to also do more takeout and delivery, so the timing seems right for The Coop.
“It’s also the perfect time for comfort food, and what says comfort food like fried chicken? All our chicken is sourced from farms where they’re humanely raised, there are no added antibiotics or steroids or hormones, they’re cage free, just the best quality chicken,” Duke notes. “We’re also going to be using locally sourced produce, doing incredible sides, great Southern-style sides with some new twists.”
Fried chicken will be the headliner, satchels of buttermilk-battered goodness, and the crispy chicken sandwich, with bread-and-butter pickles and Siracha garlic mayonnaise, is destined to become an instant classic. “We will also have rotisserie chicken, salads, healthy options, something for everyone,” Duke promises. “For sides there will be biscuits and gravy, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, honey glazed carrots, creamed corn…”
If your mouth is watering, you won’t need to wait much longer. Duke and the team are prepping for a December 1 open date, when they will serving it all up—plus beer, wine and cocktails—for delivery through Uber Eats, Door Dash and GrubHub, as well as offering call-ahead service with curbside pickup Tuesday through Sunday starting at 5 p.m.
The Coop, 256 Elm Street, Southampton For more information, to check out the menu and more, visit thecooptogo.com.