Wainscott Village Has It All

By Bob Schaeffer | December 19, 1996

Unlike shoppers at the supermarket in Old Peking, customers at the Wainscott Village complex and its neighboring specialty shops and services won't find "seaweed soup, poodle soup, moonbeam cakes, lizard cakes, a teapot early Ming, a frog who loves to sing," or even a "maid for a nice but naughty fling."

And certainly not a "pill to kill a mother-in-law."

But they can buy "fish delicious when it's raw," a "painting slightly indiscreet," noodle soup, and, yes, the crafts to make "a fancy fan."

Not to mention Chinese food, health and dental care, holiday decorations, summer patio furniture, all imaginable delicatessen delights, wines and spirits, newspapers, piano lessons, bagels, bialys, fresh bread, beer, and sandwiches and hamburgers. There is even a store for packing and mailing.

Wainscott is the rare hamlet whose Main Street contains not a single store but whose main thoroughfare, Montauk Highway, has for two decades been dotted with restaurants, nightclubs, antiques stores, a golf course, real estate and insurance offices, car dealers, and sundry other businesses.

Homes, farms, fields, snatches of woods, and a vineyard separate the 40 or so businesses, mainly on the north edge, along the two-mile stretch of road from Sapore Di Mare west to Allison's at the Beach.

Smack in the middle of that stretch, across from the Wainscott Post Office, is the Wainscott Village Center, a clutch of businesses whose lookalike facades all sport what the center's developer and principal owner, Philip Young, called the "New England, cedar-shingle look."

The Brothers Young

Mr. Young, who manages the complex with his brother, Lincoln, as Wainscott Village Associates, bought part of the two-acre property more than 10 years ago. Once, it was the site of the Attic, a gay nightclub. Down came the Attic and, in 1987, up went the two buildings which now house the Panda Garden restaurant, the Wainscott Country Deli, and Hampton Medical.

In 1990, Mr. Young acquired the land in front, closer to the highway. There he built two more buildings, connected by a short walkway. Today, that section of Wainscott Village houses an art gallery, the Hampton Mailing Company, and Wainscott Wines and Spirits.

The center's wraparound driveway is surrounded by ample parking. Cars can enter from the highway or from the rear, just off Wainscott Northwest Road. Pleasant landscaping - adequate but not lush - is beginning to mature, and a gazebo, more or less in the center of things, lends a rustic look.

Panda Garden Is 10

Tenants lease their space from Wainscott Village Associates for what Mr. Young said "averages between $21 and $27 per square foot, probably half that of rents in East Hampton Village."

Panda Garden, about to celebrate its 10th anniversary, is the only original tenant. While its chef doesn't make moonbeam soup, he does prepare bean curd soup, among a host of other Chinese dishes. Indeed, the menu lists nearly 200 possibilities for dining in or taking out, few priced at over $12. (Peking duck, $29, is an exception.)

Business, said Sherry Chan, a receptionist-manager, "has been steady since we opened in 1987," though far better in the summer months than the off-season. Most of the center's occupants echoed that comment.

New Deli Arrives

The newcomer on the block is the Wainscott Country Deli, opened on Dec. 1 by Bob and Barbara Baugh, who also own the Sagg Main Store in Sagaponack.

The Baughs have refurbished the morning-coffee and lunchtime-sandwich stop as a sleeker, more upscale version. The deli opens at 6 a.m. (7 on Sundays) with bacon and eggs and pancake breakfasts for the going-to-work traffic and serves every imaginable sandwich - roasted chicken, ham, turkey, roast beef, kielbasa, olive loaf, meatloaf - and soups and salad for lunch or later. Eat there or take it out.

Because Mr. Baugh found "you couldn't get a hamburger in this immediate area," he grills them at noontime and for dinner, along with hot dogs and french fries.

Christmas Treasures

The Baughs cater, too, taking orders in Wainscott and preparing most of the food in Sagaponack, "where the kitchen is bigger."

Treasure Island is the Wainscott Village Center's largest store. Right now it is filled, except for a small, permanent section of crafts and stationery, to a fare-thee-well with Christmas: Christmas trees, Christmas lights, ribbon, wrapping papers, stockings (for dogs and cats, too), wreaths, tree decorations, dolls, mangers, presents, and indoor and outdoor holiday displays with almost-life-sized angels, singers, Santas, and animals.

Its trees are not real ones; they are "permanent," which, according to the store manager, Kathryn Stanton, is the "politically correct term for artificial trees." She can sell you a tiny one for a few dollars or a nine-foot, already-lighted number for $729. It will fold right up for storage until next Christmas.

Ms. Stanton's store is one of 16 Treasure Islands in New York and New Jersey. Like the others, its inventory changes from February through September, to patio furniture.

Wainscott Gallery

For that painting slightly indiscreet, shoppers with an expendable $2,500 to $18,000 can go to the Wainscott Gallery, where Maggie Nolan is currently showing a number of provocative canvases from the hand of Jim Gingerich, and sculptures by Dorothy Frankel.

Ms. Nolan, who also shows work by the Sagaponack artist Robert Dash, will be closed from mid-January until April.

The biggest news at Wainscott Wines and Spirits, just down the brick walk from the gallery, is the recent arrival of le Beaujolais nouveau. James McHale, who opened this liquor store more than three years ago, stocks nearly 1,000 different wine labels, and offers a 20-percent mix-and-match discount on cases.

Wainscott Wines delivers, free, from the East End to Manhattan.

Two Vacancies

Separating the liquor store from the Hampton Mailing Company is a vacant store, one of two in the complex. Both, predicted Mr. Young, "will be rented by spring." He has had a dozen inquiries about the space, he reported, "eight of them seeking office, rather than retail, locations."

The landlord said he was looking for "a good mix" to fill out the center, tenants whose businesses will be both suitable to the location and useful to the public - "retail merchandise, services, real estate, or an attorney's office."

The complex has had its share of comings and goings. Mr. Young attributed the failure of several businesses not to customer base or location, but to an inability to plan, to remain financially stable during the off-season, or to have anticipated the curiosities of doing business in the Hamptons.

The addition of a turning lane on Route 27 has definitely helped business, Mr. Young added, although not all his tenants agreed.

Pack And Mail

Margit Beck singlehandedly - except at Christmastime - handles the packing and mailing at her Hampton Mailing Company. With great efficiency, she sends packages safely out the door, via United Parcel Service or Federal Express. She fills out forms and wraps and packs boxes with flair and few words.

"Bring in your boxes early in the day," she advises.

One business that sees a relatively steady flow of people - and which neighbors say brings them business as well - is Hampton Medical.

Both medical and dental care are available here. Dr. Beth T. Rosner has been Hampton Medical's dentist in residence for nearly five years. She and her staff, which includes a dental hygienist two days a week, are continually busy, she said.

"Teeth problems don't differentiate between summer and winter," said Dr. Rosner, "so we are not particularly seasonal," although, she noted, summertime brings more emergencies. Dr. Rosner works five days a week and every other Saturday morning.

Hampton Medical

Dr. Gary T. Purcell, an orthopedic surgeon who heads the medical arm of Hampton Medical, spends two or more days a week at the facility seeing patients. The practice is currently without a full-time doctor, but Dr. Purcell said several physicians were "under consideration for the position" and that he hoped "the situation is resolved by the first of the year."

Just across Wainscott Northwest Road from Wainscott Village Associates is a second medical facility, Wainscott Walk-In Medical Service, owned by Dr. Blake Kerr, a general practitioner who is its on-site physician.

Dr. Kerr opened the practice less than a year ago and said it is "busier than I ever imagined." He and his staff, which includes a nurse and a nurse-practitioner, see "some 40 patients every day, some scheduled, some emergencies."

Music Studios

Dr. Kerr owns the two-story building that houses his practice. On the second floor is Wainscott Music Studios, a compact arrangement of musical accessories, a sound stage, recording equipment, and dozens of instruments.

Owned by Andrew Baker, a past president of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Wainscott Music arranges, by appointment, instruction on any - that means any - musical instrument. On one wall hangs Billy Joel's "River of Dreams" platinum album, on which Mr. Baker has a credit.

Separating the Wainscott Village Center from its neighbors to the west are three stores which, although independent of the others, are very much a part of the overall space. Two were opened just this year, and the other, John Haessler's Seafood Shop, has been busy in all seasons for 27 years.

Seafood Shop

While parking has not been a problem for the center or for Dr. Kerr's patients, it has been for the Seafood Shop and Once-Upon-A-Bagel, next door.

Drivers know all too well the traffic snarls that occur when more than a few customers stop at the Seafood Shop for the fresh fish, lobsters, and other seafood for which the store is known. Mr. Haessler has an application before the East Hampton Town Planning Board to turn a vacant half-acre he owns on Wainscott Northwest Road into a 27-space parking lot.

At Once-Upon-A-Bagel, opened in May by Carmine Speranza, bagel lovers will find 30 varieties, including spinach, sourdough, and Russian pumpernickel. To go with them, there are cases of unusual salads and 12 varieties of cream cheese, as well as breads and other baked goods.

Mr. Speranza prepares breakfasts and lunches and stocks fresh produce when it is available. Everything is made on-site, said the owner, and the first seven months of business have been good.

Breadzilla

Also doing good business, according to its owners, Nancy and Brad Thompson, is Breadzilla, a sizable bakery behind the Seafood Shop with an entrance on Wainscott Northwest Road.

Breadzilla - "Zilla" was Ms. Thompson's nickname as a child - opened on the Fourth of July. Once the home of Walker's Upholstery and Asiantique, it has several tables for breakfast and lunch customers, or for a spot of tea or coffee and a sweet.

"Everything - our soups, stews, pot pies, the foccacia - is made from scratch," said Ms. Thompson, who has been busy lately making Christmas cookies and gingerbread tree ornaments in the store's spacious kitchen. She does the baking, and Paul DePalma, formerly of Nick & Toni's restaurant, assists her as chief chef.

Breadzilla is closed on Mondays.

Handicapped-Accessible

Breadzilla, Wainscott Walk-In Medical Service, and all the stores in the Wainscott Village Center are handicapped-accessible, and there are numerous blue-lined parking spaces available in front of these establishments.

The stores' hours of operation vary according to days of the week and time of the year. Credit policies vary with each shop, and patients new to the medical facilities might check the clearly posted insurance carriers before requesting treatment.