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Hamptons restaurateurs clash with 'party police' over post-COVID crackdown

Restaurateurs are locked in an epic clash with Hamptons local officials over outdoor dining. Hamptons inspectors are increasingly forcing a return to pre-pandemic rules. 

Restaurants from Southampton to Montauk have taken extra steps to survive amid pandemic complaints that have been hit by a new wave of "excessive" inspections and overcapacity fines. The seats claim to be reliant on them ruining their livelihoods during the all-important money-making summer.

"They say they're off the brakes and making up for lost time," said one restaurateur on the side dish, referring to crackdowns by local authorities. "They want to take back or limit outdoor space, but who do you think is paying our tax base?"   

This The business owner, like many who Side Dish interviewed, requested anonymity for fear of further outrage, but said in one instance police were trying to seize his equipment. music event. 

"What do you think this is, the Soviet f-- Union?" the restaurateur exasperated. "You can't come get my stuff—. The law doesn't work. It's so messed up. We need the Eastern Hospitality Alliance. One noise complaint and over a dozen inspections all summer long." 

Southampton town compliance and emergency management manager Ryan Murphy defended enforcement after rules were eased during the pandemic.

Sel Rrose

allowed to stretch. Outdoor seating is sometimes spread out on open streets and public sidewalks to support struggling businesses.

Outdoor dining at 75 Main

But some restaurants apply Murphy said the expanded outdoor dining seating was not made permanent until the start of this summer season, resulting in raids. to be made permanent, but the town still has to approve all site plan changes — to the ability of restaurants to accommodate more people while adhering to health and safety codes. Based on, said Murphy. 

"We are aware that some restaurants have been subject to subpoenas and violations for expanding their business beyond what they should have, and fines may escalate if not paid. There is," he said Murphy. 

Zach Erdem, a Southampton restaurateur and owner of the chic restaurant and nightclub 75 Main, denounced the crackdown. 

"We just want to survive. We pay rent all year round and this guy only has three months to make money in this little village." said Erdem. ``People have to do something to go out to dinner, listen to music, and dance, otherwise this is a ghost town.'' 

TT’s Montauk
Instagram/ TT's Montauk

A group of Montauk restaurant owners have also formed a band. together after arguing that As Side Dish previously reported,Side Dish said 

"We have lawyers and I know others. TT's Montauk owner Tony Pytleski told Side Dish he was only talking about his eatery: "Our lease will end next year and we will be moving out of Montauk to start more business." We are considering moving to a town that is more suitable for the city.”

Local officials deny involvement with either company. They want to add tents and remove extra tables spilled onto sidewalks and streets during the pandemic.   

Jay Schneiderman, supervisor of the town of Southampton.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
Shagwong Tavern
I was fined at one of the restaurants.

"While the public loves outdoor dining, some restaurants are taking advantage of it to keep COVID numbers down and stay open after the state of emergency is lifted." ', said Jay Schneiderman, the town's supervisor. of Southampton.

"Naturally, they're trying to make as much profit as possible in a short season, and that's where the friction comes in," Schneiderman added. “Restaurant does not want to go back to pre-pandemic seating arrangements. However, existing seating numbers must be used.” 

Refuted claims of profit. 

“We rely very little on fines. People are paying for beach parking, building permits, licenses of all kinds, and given the cost of collecting these fines, the fines we receive are small."

He also said that enforcing pre-pandemic regulations does not make the town anti-business. 

"We are happy to work with companies and see them thrive," he said Schneiderman.  "We want our businesses to succeed. We are not their enemies."