Ali Erdem is the force of 75 Main Group and a four-seasons Hamptons Renaissance man.
Erdem’s presence is invaluable to the success of the restaurant’s operation and his pathway to Southampton’s quaint Main Street brought him from the farms of Turkey through the laboratories of Germany. Erdem and his brother, Zach Erdem, started together in the kitchen and have since created an iconic restaurant that is among the most famous in the Hamptons and across the nation.
Erdem grew up alongside his six brothers in Erzincan, Turkey. More than three hours outside of the nearest city and in a village of only a dozen residents, Erdem’s vision for lifelong success brought him to Europe.
Hearing his calling in his early 20s, he left his home village in Turkey for Hamburg, Germany, among the largest cities in the country. Seeking his degree in physics, Erdem sought the pathway of other great physicists such as Albert Einstein, and went to “the country of poets and thinkers.”
Erdem’s academic success and intellect were immediately visible in Germany. During his time there, he embraced the vast diversity of culture, and became fluent in four languages in addition to his native Turkish. After learning German, Russian, English and Spanish, he returned to Turkey, with the hope of utilizing his talents to impact the scientific industry in the nation that raised him.
However, he, like many, saw the possibilities of America and the bright lights of New York. After just a few years, in 2015, he ventured to the East End, where he immediately made an impact with the 75 Main Group.
Where certain people focus on one “house” of the restaurant — Erdem is the front, back and middle — and is the means by which food gets from the kitchen to the table at chic 75 Main.
While one may not think that a degree in physics would translate to the restaurant industry, Erdem applied his education and knowledge to the restaurants and has been a major part of the 75 Main Group’s efficiency and effective restaurant management, which has earned them acclaim from critics and customers alike.
“My inspiration is to keep building restaurants and the social life of the Hamptons, where my brother and I could continue to build a service industry dynasty throughout the East End and the world,” says Erdem, who also plans to open locations in major cities around the world, like Dubai, London, Paris and Los Angeles.
“I love physics, and I was successful in the industry,” he continues. “I finished university and achieved my master’s degree in Germany and had hoped to become a professor or a teacher. When I came here, I started creating dynamic restaurants, and I fell in love with talking to and meeting unique, different people.
“If you want to work in physics, you always have to work very hard,” he adds. “If you work in restaurants, you can have more fun, enjoy serving people and making them happy with food and the experience.”
Erdem’s work is far from finished and his role is rapidly expanding within the restaurant group. Now holding the title of chief operating officer, he is a lynchpin in all of the Erdem restaurants and hotels, including Blu Mar, Buddha Bar, AM Nightclub, Summer House Nightclub Lounge, as well as Harpoon House. This family affair is among the most well-respected on the East End and continues to be a force behind the Hamptons culture.
“Zach has been the best teacher for me and has taught me so much about the Hamptons and restaurants. I have learned that if you work in the restaurants, you are learning every day — kind of like physics, you will never learn everything, and that’s my great joy,” Erdem says.
Like many who have ventured to this nation for the opportunity to find success, Erdem is, in many ways, the epitome of the American Dream — and this dream is far from over.
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.