After 40 years in the restaurant business in Westhampton Beach, Starr Boggs is ready to hang up his chef’s hat. His eponymous restaurant—both the business and the building—is for sale for $3.75 million.
Boggs himself has been making masterful meals in Westhampton kitchens since 1981, combining American, Italian and Mediterranean influences. The Starr Boggs restaurant, known for its local fish specialties, dry-aged prime beef and an extensive wine list, had a presence across four different locations every summer since 1985—with one exception in 2003—and it may be best known for was Monday night lobster bake, a Westhampton tradition that drew crowds of around 200 for the outdoor meal.
“I’ve done 40 years here in the Hamptons and it’s hard. I think about not being involved in the restaurants…. it’s always been my passion,” he says, noting he will turn 70 this coming year.
“It’s a tough business, and I love it and I love serving the people. I still have customers from 40 years ago,” but after “the most trying summer”—his 39th season came during the COVID-19 pandemic—he is ready to retire. “I have to say. I had a staff that stepped-up to the plate and did beautifully.”
Mike Carroll of Marketplace Realty in Westhampton has the listing at 6 Parlato Drive, located behind Main Street.
Boggs came to Westhampton by way of Nantucket in 1981. Susan McAllister owned The Inn at Quogue and needed a new chef. “She flew me down here, like her and like Long Island, it reminded me of where I grew up on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,” he recalls. And he stayed. After one season, he and McAllister went over to the Patio for lunch, and when they found out it was available, they leased it and later bought it, running two restaurants for a time.
All these years later, he still credits her with giving him his start. “I came here with less than almost pocket change in my pocket, no automobile, a sail bag and that was about it.”
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In 1985, they sold both restaurants and he used the proceeds for start-up money for the first Starr Boggs, which he opened on Sunset Avenue, where Tony’s Asian Fusion is now located. The 40-seat restaurant “was considered a Manhattan restaurant. There was a waiting list for months there,” Boggs recalls, adding that it received four-star ratings from both The New York Times and Newsday.
He later brought Starr Boggs to the ocean, opening at the Old Dune Deck Hotel on Dune Road, which he leased for 12 years. During that time, he also opened Starr Boggs at Hampton Square, which was open year-round across the street from the village lawn on Beach Road, at the old Howell House. He sold in 1996, then gave up the space at the beach in 2002.
A year later, he found the space at 6 Parlato Drive, a .36-acre property. With a real estate partner, Leonard Riggio, the founder of Barnes & Noble who has a home in Bridgehampton, they opened after a year of renovation. Riggio and Boggs have been friends for over 30 years, when they both lived in Quogue.
The building, which looks more like a house with dormer windows and a front porch—in fact, it was the Parlato family home originally—has housed several restaurants over the years, from Red Fox to Westhampton Grill and two or three others, Boggs says. The village gave him a permit to double the size of the kitchen, and the restaurant is about 2,700 square feet.
“It doesn’t have the lure of the ocean and being on the beach, but it’s a great location. The restaurant is well-equipped,” Boggs says. A New England–style porch has a blue ceiling. In addition to the main dining room, there are two bars, one being outside, a private area that he calls the club room, and garden seating.
Health department approvals allow for 150 seats, but Boggs believes it could seat more closer to 200, especially if the village’s sewage project comes to fruition. There is also an office space and apartment upstairs.
This is not the first time the building and restaurant have been on the market. In 2018, it was listed for $4 million and the restauranteur say they got very close to a deal with a couple of people, but “one thing or the other happened. Then last year, I had some kids who were working for me who would like to buy the place, but their investor fell through with COVID.”
While the price has been reduced to $3.75 million, Boggs believes there are people who will see the opportunity to invest now. “I think Westhampton is hot. I’ve never seen so many people in Westhampton in the summer or this time of year.”
Though Boggs typically keeps the restaurant open April through October, it has been open year-round in the past. “I know it can work, but just as I’ve gotten older, I’ve enjoyed having some time off in Florida, but I think it’s prime now for a steady year-round business.”
Boggs has seen Westhampton develop over the years with such recent improvements as reconfiguring parking along Main Street and the addition of a storm drain system. “It looks beautiful. The leadership of the community wants Westhampton to be an active village, and I think they are doing a great job, and if they can get this sewage project through it will be great not only for business but for the environment.
Does the deal for the restaurant come with the use of his moniker? “The ambiance comes a lot from the Starr Boggs name on the front. A 40-year existence—people know when they come in, they are excited about eating there,” he says. “I would consider that. The restaurant has a good reputation… the reputation is one that I would love to see continue. The name would go with it as long as I thought the person would do the right thing.”