Are Short Term Rentals Harming The Hamptons… and I FINALLY got to Topping Rose!!

So the Hamptons are more crowded this year than last.  But yet, everyone from shop keepers and especially real estate agents (talking rentals) are saying that business is off.   One thing I always do when I take my stroll around town trying to look better dressed than the next guy, I always ask shop owners “how was your season?”   The response I keep hearing “not great.”    But it’s so crowded, which leaves me wondering what gives!?     Well some folks are blaming the increasing popularity of those short term rental websites for the problem.       For example, you can rent a house in Southampton from a website called Marquis for a nightly rate of $1,100 a night even though this is in violation of town code which requires a minimum of 14 days.     So, according to some there lies the problem.    You have a house which advertises an occupancy of 12 people each essentially paying $100 per person, they’re not the types who are going to be spending money about town in the shops and restaurants.     By the way, I like that the Hamptons are becoming more accessible to folks who wouldn’t normally be able to visit but by allowing overcrowding in houses it’s more like a spring break location than quiet escape from city living.    What do you think?

Finally,  I got the chance to visit the new Topping Rose by Jean Georges last night and I can say is it was worth the wait.  Although the reservation lines need some fixing… about 45 minutes of holds, hang ups and transfers… the total experience was great.   The menu is unpretentious with everything from an amazing mini pizza to a terrific kale salad and a really solid cheese burger.    Service was solid and entrees arrived within a half hour of ordering.  I had the penne with meatballs and thought they were over the top awesome.   My dinner guests ordered the burger and the salmon, each earning a thumbs up from each.   I also recommend the heirloom tomato salad which right now is on the tail of being in season so go try it now.    This is a huge step up from last year’s outing by Tom Colicchio.

SOMETHING BREWING IN SOUTHAMPTON… AND PLEASE DON’T TELL ME WHAT ZILLOW SAYS ABOUT YOUR HOUSE!

Something Brewing.. time to change the label!

I can barley stand it!   It has some folks hops-ing mad!   Apparently the spuds will no longer be flowing on Bowden Square.   In spite of an announcement back in October that the Southampton Publick House would be staying put at the current location, word has gotten out that folks will soon have to fasten their beer goggles in a new location.    Since 1996 the brewery and restaurant have been a staple around town but it seems the new building owners have other plans.    According to some local insiders, the location will soon be home to a “high end Mexican Restaurant.”     Now if you’ve ever read this blog before… that’s a huge deal for me yet I hate to see an old favorite move to somewhere new.     While the Publick house will go on… like Celine Dion’s heart…. it will according to insiders have to be in a new location.   Sometimes a little change will do you good.

Oh is that the blood rushing to your head?

Now for a little advice.   If you want to send any real estate agent’s boiling blood further to their head just say the following sentence, “BUT Zillow said my house is worth X!”   It’s the bane of many a real estate agent and brokers existence.   In fact, The Los Angles Times  recently tackled the issue of “Zestimantes” (Zillow’s estimate) and how many claim they’re wildly inaccurate.    In fact, I have to say part of the big problem with Zillow’s “formula” is that it can’t really take into account factors like condition and location (waterfront, south of the highway, village).    So how inaccurate are these “Zestimates?”  Well the CEO of Zillow was recently quoted as saying they’re “a good starting point” and have a “median error rate of about 8%.”   Obviously this error rate varies in different markets and Zillow even says so at the bottom of the Zestimates page.     While I couldn’t locate the margin in our area, I can tell you that my own personal home fluctuated by about $5,000,000 in a period of 6 months.    Now, I know you think Hamptons Chatter just rakes in the money but the initial high estimate they gave my home was crazy.   I’d move out in hours if I could get that number tomorrow!    Yep, I would guess their error rate in the Hamptons is a heck of a lot more than a 8%.   It’s a big miss in the Hamptons… like an Ishtar big miss!  A “Missestimate” if you will.     So the take away from all of this… talk to an agent or do your homework (Zillow.com is a great source for closed prices) and don’t try let some silicon valley geek tell you what your home is worth.   Besides,  how could you put a price on that “Sistine Chapel” painting on your master bedroom ceiling?

 

THEY HAD US AT MERLOT! WOLFFER KITCHEN AND GREY GARDENS AT BAY STREET!

So, it’s been one of those mornings but here I am anyway.  Without going into details, I went to brush my teeth this morning and instead I ended up well lets just say, I doubt I’ll have inflammation on my gums today.   But before I digress, I’m ready to recap the glorious life of the glamorous and irritated on the East End.

So, last night I had the chance to visit the highly anticipated Wolffer Kitchen in Sag Harbor.   So here’s the good news and the bad news.  The good news is it’s pretty good.   The bad news is it should have been better.    Since it’s the first foray into food for the local vineyard, I’ll give them time to let this potentially fine dine breath.   Located at 29 Main Street in the village, the restaurant opens with a series of folding doors that open up and make it a great place to dine and watch the world go by.    The menu on the other hand is a little more closed with a smaller selection of options.  The wine menu on the other hand is rather extensive and features of course Wolffer wines, numerous imports and this in addition to a few local vineyards including Bedell.

The service as I sat for dinner last night was on their game from start to finish.   I started my dinner with a small Greek salad which was absolutely fantastic, a perfect size with a delicate blend of feta, olives and greens.   Oh my god, do I now sound like a food critic? I have to stop!  Anyway, for an entree I had fresh tuna grilled over pasta which was nice and light but a little too light on flavor.    My dining companion (who you can figure out) had a vegetable platter with I believe some fava beans and he thought it was awesome.   Perhaps the comment that I’m more “suited for heavier flavors”, i.e. bolognese is my favorite should be taken into account.   So what I’m saying is I liked Wolffer Kitchen, I just wasnt’ crazy about it.   Perhaps I’ll hit it up again once they get more time under their belt but I have no doubt it’s going to get better!  Wolffer Kitchen is open daily at 5:30pm and takes reservations on their facebook page or by calling 631-725-0101.

Betty Buckley and Rachel York… The Edies.

I also had a chance to head over to Bay Street Theater last night and catch a performance of the musical “Grey Gardens.”   If you don’t already know the story, shame on you and go directly to Fire Island.  You should know the story!   But anyway, it stars Broadway veterans Betty Buckley and Rachael York as the highly entertaining and dysfunctional society duo.   This is the show that Bay Street was born to perform!    I know tickets are going fast so if you’re thinking of going to see it, get your tickets now! It’s a great show with great performers and a really enjoyable way to spend your evening in Sag Harbor.  It would be an even better night if you call me first and make an offer on the actual Grey Gardens… not that it’s currently for sale but it’s the Hamptons and you never know!

I’m sorry today’s blog was like a review section from Junior Highlights,,, but hey, it’s mine and I write what I want to write!

 

YOU CANOLI IMAGINE THE CHANGE IN WAINSCOTT…. TAKE A PEEK! PLUS A TALE SO STUPID IT HAS TO BE TRUE!

Makeover Mangia!

If you’ve been through Wainscott lately,  you’ve probably noticed there’s a whole lot of something going on at the former location of Georgica and Saracen restaurants.   The location is now the home of Osteria Salina and the inside has been given face lift that would make Cher green with envy!  Its been a much needed change for the 130 year old building that was more recently the home of ruckus night clubs catering to the hard partying “bottle and banquette” crowd.    Instead neighbors now have a traditional Sicilian restaurant in one of the most charming locations around.   In fact, if you ask me it looks like they spent a pretty penne to make it look good!  Sorry for the pun.

The Georgica Room with a view!

The restaurant which was formally located on School Street in Bridgehampton has now been expanded by purveyor Tim Gaglio and his wife Cinzia (the chef) into a larger 225 seat venue overlooking Georgica Pond.   The menu will remain the same and feature old favorites like Charred Octopus, Polpette (amazing italian meatballs), Mezzi Rigitoni alla Siciliana, fresh seafood specials but with the addition of pizzas cooked in the brick oven that was a staple back when the restaurant was “Sapore di Mare.”     If you don’t remember back that far then you certainly don’t know the reason Route 27 is so close to the site!?  Well I’ll tell you, it’s owed to two feuding brothers, one who designed highways for the state and the other who owned a house in Wainscott!

Classic design meets chic renovation!

Well enough about the location, the food which comes with a Sicilian pedigree (Cinzia comes from a long line of Italian restauranteurs) that goes all the way back to Sorra Italy has been earning raves from local celebs like Billy Joel, Alan Alda and Howard Stern to name a few.   In fact, I bet next door neighbor Ron Perlman will soon swing by for some Bucatini con Sarde … the smells will get ’em and I heard he loves to walk everywhere!   There’s no doubt it will be attracting the same crowd plus a few new ones with the expanded dining room.   Osteria Salina will open it’s doors quietly this Thursday (5/21) night at 5pm and be open for business year round.   It’s a great addition to the area and if you have any doubt they’re aiming for a different crowd than the last establishment, stop by on Sunday’s from 1 to 9pm when they’ll be serving traditional Sophia Loren sized “family style” dinners.    If you want a reservation and my guess is your going to need them… check out the restaurant on OPENTABLE.COM

As any real estate on the east end will tell you, dealing with Summer rentals is never easy.    This Friday will no doubt too be another hair raising experience for agents all over as tenants start to move into their seasonal rentals.  Yes, I’ll soon be getting calls about defective toasters, noisy neighbors and even the occasional call asking for an address (write it down before you go out drinking).

Well it’s a few years later and now enough time has passed to tell a tale I from a few years ago when one tenant called me complaining about the wireless Internet.   I explained I wasn’t an expert but I would swing by and take a look.    Apparently the code for the wifi wasn’t working and I thought I’d give it a shot.  When I arrived I input the code and bing!  It worked!   What was the problem?   Well, when I gave them the code in the e mail I wrote “the password is case sensitive xyz.”  Yes, you got it… they wrote “CASE SENSITIVE” when inputting the code.  By the way, English was their first language and it was a $200k+ seasonal rental!    Only in the Hamptons!