The year 2020 has been one unlike any other, impacting businesses, organizations and individuals around the world—changing the way we think, the way we act and the way we eat. On the East End, restaurants had to be quick to adapt to takeout-only models, then outdoor dining, limited indoor seating and strict safety precautions. Through these challenging months, the local restaurant industry pressed on and even enjoyed a few bright spots in the midst of the uncertainty. Here are five of the biggest developments to come out of the East End dining scene in 2020.
Bonding with Local Restaurants
With the global restaurant industry in desperate need during the spring shutdowns, a team of industry veterans led by HP-PR and Hall PR sought to provide a new way to support your local eateries. The Dining Bonds campaign allowed food lovers to purchase discounted bonds to be used to dine-in a few months after purchase, providing vital cash flow to restaurants in their time of need. The initiative helped local favorites PAWPAW, The Preston House & Hotel, Dopo La Spiaggia, Kingfish, PTL and many others across the globe. Rumor has it the Dining Bonds team is working on a new campaign that should be launching soon.
Maxed Out Takeout and Delivery Options
Changes to New York State rules made this the first East End summer to allow for restaurants to deliver alcohol with meals, which, in addition to a long list of restaurants offering takeout and delivery for the first time, made this one of the greatest years to dine at home, by the pool or by the fire. Several new food, drink and grocery delivery services came to the Hamptons, some for the summer and some for the long haul, including Amorino, Big Box Brunch, Dante, Tony’s Di Napoli, Li-Lac Chocolates, Houseman at Home, Instacart and Dock to Dish 3.0.
Winning at Outdoor Dining
While the East End and New York City were both able to adapt to takeout-only models in the spring, when outdoor dining became the big thing, the East End came out on top. With many Hamptons and North Fork restaurants and wineries already having space to spread out and local villages allowing Main Street eateries to expand their dining areas into the street, restaurants were bustling even into the fall and winter. And with the colder weather, came inventive outdoor dining solutions spanning giant heated tents to cozy igloos and cabanas. This year, many restaurants and wineries are even offering outdoor seating throughout the winter.
A Wave of New Restaurant Openings
There’s zero doubt that 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for businesses everywhere, even here on the lavish East End, but through sheer determination and cunning business practices, restaurateurs opened all-new and freshly rebranded eateries at an incredible rate.
In January, famed East End pitmaster Matty Boudreau led the way as the newly rebranded Green Hill Kitchen & Que opened its doors with its newfound focus on authentic barbecue. He helped give Greenport neighbor Anker a fresh coat of paint in May, with a menu that offered the freshest seafood imaginable.
After purchasing the restaurant from Claudia Fleming, John Fraser reopened the North Fork Table & Inn with a new vision and a new vegetable-focused menu that took the North Fork by storm. Lucharitos introduced two new locations—the Burrito Bar in Mattituck and a taco truck on the company farm in Center Moriches.
In May, Mark Evans opened Miss Shanty Caribbean Café in Hampton Bays, providing the hamlet with authentic French Caribbean and West Indian dishes with a twist. Across the canal, Moby’s Restaurant made a big move from East Hampton Point to its original location at Pantigo Road with a new culinary director in tow. And on the North Fork, Duryea’s Lobster Deck opened a second location, serving lobster rolls outside of Montauk for the first time.
Succeeding the iconic Silver’s, Argento Restaurant and Cocktail Bar came to Southampton Main Street in June, expanding the DOPO La Spiaggia family of restaurants. The village also saw the addition of NAIA to the Capri Hotel, helmed by Chef Pavlos Davarakis. And Carbone graced Southampton with its high-end Italian cuisine for a hotly anticipated pop-up.
Westhampton Beach welcomed Flora to their roster of celebrated dining spots, making this the Rooted Hospitality Group’s third popular Hamptons eatery after Rumba and Cowfish. Southold favorite North Fork Roasting Co. also opened a location in the village.
During the summer, Old Stove Pub returned to Sagaponack after a three-year absence, and Kissaki opened in Water Mill to dish out Japanese cuisine with the help of a sushi-making robot. And Sundae Donuts introduced the East End to doughnut-infused ice cream, with locations in Montauk and Hampton Bays.
The Year of Ian Duke
It’s impossible to mention 2020 East End restaurant openings without giving special mention to Southampton Social Club owner Ian Duke, who debuted two new dining experiences this year. After a wildly successful first year in Southampton, Union Burger Bar took over the larger Union Cantina space, freeing up the back space for the premiere of Union Sushi & Steak in late February. Then in November, Duke introduced The Coop to the village, a new takeout and delivery option providing fried chicken and other Southern favorites. This was also the year that Duke celebrated the 10-year anniversary of Southampton Social Club by hosting A Perfect 10: The Dinner with Dan’s Papers, which also happened to be celebrating a decade of Dan’s Taste of Two Forks.