After 27 years in East Hampton Village, Babette’s will serve its last meal on Sunday, October 17.
Barbara Layton, the restaurant’s founder and owner, announced the closure of the eatery at 66 Newtown Lane in an ad taken out in a local newspaper.
“My love and admiration for East Hampton is unbounded and I am excited to see the unfolding of our next adventure — as individuals and together. We are a community of vision. We are a community of strength and love,” she wrote. “We are a community of courage and wisdom. We are committed to inspiring one another to always be better as we honor those who came before us, creating this heavenly place we call home — East Hampton.”
The restaurant led the charge in organic, clean eating, when it opened in 1995. The menu, which featured non-GMO whole foods, was a favorite to many, even celebrities, including Paul McCartney, Steven Spielberg and President Bill Clinton, who is always sure to stop in during his regular summer rental trips.
In fact, before Layton even had met Clinton, she was a supporter. She hung a petition outside the restaurant door calling for the Kenneth Starr investigation into the president to end. She wound up with close to 8,000 signatures, she told The Independent in 2018. A patron, who happened to be a major donor to the Clinton campaign, later asked if he could take the petition to the president. Clinton sent her a letter and then paid her a visit.
Babette’s became a gathering spot for political conversations, on a local and national level.
“With all my heart no words can express the love and gratitude I feel for the brilliant, courageous and love Babette’s staff, past and present, who worked tirelessly making work fun and real, never dull, and always full of sweet surprises,” she wrote. “And to the loyal patronage of our guests for over two decades, sharing their lives and their families, with many becoming good friends. Together we co-created a space of real food, real conversation, real connection, laughter, love and inspiration.”
The restaurant name was inspired by “the enchanting and bewitching film Babette’s Feast whereby one woman awakens an entire village to life, preparing and serving a feast of sensual foods and wines,” the website explains. “Welcome to Babette’s. The restaurant of possibility.”
Layton’s advice is to take risks and “never, never underestimate the power of a dream and the power of intention,” she said in the ad.
She also gave thanks for her late husband, co-creator and chef, Daniel VanDerBeek, who died in 2011. Their son, Zach, also a chef, spearheaded the opening of Babette’s in Newport Beach, California, which closed during the pandemic.
Babette’s in East Hampton will be open Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., for a last hoorah of sorts. Patrons are invited down to celebrate and say goodbye.
As for the prime piece of commercial real estate on Newtown Lane, which Layton does not own: What will replace Babette’s?
Hal Zwick of Compass Commercial says, “Yes, something is taking over the space, but we will allow the new entity to make their own announcement.”
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