East End Forces: Jim Metzger & Peggy Zabakolas

Jim Metzger and Peggy Zabakolas
Stefano Giovanni

Over the last year and a half, the ties that connect New York City and Long Island’s East End have drawn closer and closer. This highlights a contrast in two personalities, both who have spent time in Manhattan and the Hamptons, and some insights on their commonality, unique interests and where their journeys may take them.

Jim Metzger was introduced to Peggy Zabakolas by Matt Brunderman. Metzger is the chairman and chief executive officer of one of the leading insurance brokers in the New York Metro, the Whitmore Agency, headquartered in Garden City. Within a year of becoming a partner agency with Acrisure, a $2.4 billion multinational insurance broker, Whitmore has pushed itself to be a top growth partner in this global network. Brunderman is the CEO of Bruderman Brothers, a highly successful family business going on four generations. Metzger handles all the insurance needs of Brunderman’s various businesses, and they are partners on other certain ventures.

Brunderman was looking for a house in the Hamptons and enlisted Zabakolas’ help. Not only is she a leading real estate broker at Nest Seekers International, but she was also one of the stars on the hit Netflix’s show Million Dollar Beachhouse. She is also an attorney and a member of the New York State Bar. Peggy grew up on Long Island, and now resides on Manhattan’s East Side and out on the East End.

From the city’s rooftop bars to boats and backyards in the Hamptons, she loves both places. For daytime fun out east, you’ll find Zabakolas working out at Hill Street Boxing in Southampton or horseback riding at Two Trees Stables in Bridgehampton. For a low chill evening, it may be at Rumba in Hampton Bays with family and friends, or mussels at Sag Harbor’s Lulu Kitchen & Bar. Back in the city, her favorite places to dine include Benoit, Boucherie, and Serafina. But one thing that she knows she can only get in one place is NYC pizza.

After seeing a house that Brunderman liked but knew wasn’t for him, he introduced Zabakolas to Metzger, because he thought it would be a perfect place for Metzger to entertain clients and host events for the many charities that he supports.

Like Zabakolas, Metzger also grew up on Long Island where he practiced, ate, drank and studied sports. At Half Hollow Hills High School, he was an All-American in lacrosse, played basketball and was a Suffolk County All-Star running back in football. In college he was a Division I All-American at Hofstra University where his sophomore record scoring average of 4.9 points per game still stands – for 41 years. Why mention this? He credits his success in business and to, “Everything I ever needed to know about business I learned on the sports field.”

While Metzger built his insurance business in Nassau County, he became a Manhattanite living near the United Nations complex on the East Side. Jim loved to really get to know and entertain clients. Steakhouses were and are his favorite. Asked about his top choices, “You don’t have to think twice, Bobby Van’s, downtown, mid-town, up-town they’ve always had me covered here in the city. And for multicultural cuisine and fine dining, try Tocqueville, you’ll be thinking about the experience for days.”

Metzger is fond of everything New York City – museums, theaters, entertainment, and history – but when pressed, and you don’t have to lean too hard, he’ll easily, and with calm conviction, tell you that there is nothing like Long Island’s piece of the Atlantic Ocean and beaches.

“For more than 30 years my family has enjoyed the island and the Hamptons. From our beach house in Southampton we fished, played and swam right in our backyard. Could one ask for more? Sure. But I don’t, I’m truly thankful,” he says.

“The East End is a special place. From the Peconic River, Shelter Island and Sag Harbor to the majestic shores of all the Hampton towns and Montauk, it’s simply beautiful,” he continuesIt has everything and the best to offer –– amazing and interesting people from all walks of life, outdoor activities, world class golf, museums for art and history, agriculture, wineries, and yes, let me get back to restaurants – there is a Bobby Van’s out there too!”

Metzger with his cat, SpikeCourtesy of Jennifer A. Uihlein/Girl in a Camera Productions

Metzger is no longer a New York City resident and is looking for another place in the Hamptons. There is one catch, he has a pet he loves. Her name is Spike.

“She is a feral cat. If she was a male cat, maybe I would have called her Sue; to make sure she was tough,” Metzger says with a laugh.“No, her name is Spike. She is tough. No, a killer, often bringing me belated trophies of her nocturnal rodent conquests.”

Metzger has indeed hired Zabakolas to find him a place in the Hamptons so he and his family and friends can live comfortably —in Spike’s world, of course.

This article appeared in the Labor Day issue of Behind The Hedges magazine. Read the digital edition here.

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