Bruce Weed didn’t start off as a computer repairman. His first calling was as a chef. Some may recall his restaurant, aptly named Bruce’s, in the Sagaponack spot now occupied by Townline BBQ. He ran the eatery from 1978 to 1994 with his mother, and eventually his wife, Linda, who started as a sous chef there.
“I worked 25 hours a day, and loved it. . . . There’s no bigger high than growing your own produce and cooking it.”
Following that, he worked as head chef at the Amagansett Farmers Market for several years. During that period, in 1998, his son announced that it was time to purchase a PC. “What’s that?” Mr. Weed recalled asking. “I boil water for a living.”
Prevailed upon, he bought a Gateway computer and still recalls its arrival in two boxes decorated with the brand’s cow markings. “I plugged it in and pushed the button, and that was it.” He was hooked. “This is magic,” he remembered thinking.
But still he continued to cook, or as he described it, “make rapidly moving molecules into food.” Computers became his hobby. He took a yearlong course at Southampton College in computer use, followed by another year in computer repair. At the beginning of the latter course, he and his fellow students were struck with fear when the teacher presented them with computers in various states of disrepair. His task was to diagnose and fix the problems, something that became routine by the end of the year.
It still didn’t occur to him to base a career on his newfound passion. One day, while “sitting around” wondering what to do after learning that the market’s owner, Pat Struk, intended to sell, his wife made the suggestion that he go into computers. It occurred to him at that moment that “carrying around a floppy disc was a lot easier than carrying around a four-gallon stock pot.” And Bruce Weed Computers was born.
Since his first client, a customer at the market whose monitor had gone black (and which he fixed by deleting an army of icons that had taken over the screen), he has worked with countless residential and commercial clients.
Most of his commercial clients are local restaurants for which he posts menus and wine lists online and sets up and maintains networks. “They like me,” said the former chef, “because they don’t have to explain how a kitchen works.” His clients include many of the South Fork’s finer dining establishments: Nick and Toni’s, 1770 House, East Hampton Point, Citta Nuova, Fresno, Redbar Brasserie, the Beacon, and the Bell and Anchor.
He spends much of his time “planning ahead for upgrades or maintenance or installing new software” on systems. “Let’s do this next week so it’s not a panic situation,” he said. On the other hand, he usually doesn’t hear from his residential clients unless it’s an emergency. “I put out fires and fix flat tires,” he said. Problems range from damaged hardware to downed Internet service, and often “by Monday at 11 I’m fully booked.”
Based in East Hampton, a typical workday finds him making house calls, and receiving pleas for help by cellphone as he drives across the South Fork. He will then rearrange his day geographically to be able to serve as many customers as possible. “I never want clients to suffer because I’m so busy I can’t get to them.”
To that purpose, he keeps his client base “doable.” And he has help for some jobs. “I have a young guy who climbs up trees to install wireless transmitters.” Meanwhile, as a PC-only technician, there is one segment of the market he will never have to serve. As for Macs, he joked, “I never go to the dark side.”