Two Hot Spots Catch Heat

David E. Rattray

    Ruschmeyer’s, the latest hot spot in Montauk, is under fire this week after being issued two summonses — one for operating without a certificate of occupancy and another for construction of an exterior platform without a permit from the East Hampton Town Building Department.
    Touted in a promotional video as a “nautical summer camp” by a co-owner, Robert McKinley, the 19-room hotel, restaurant, and bar is in a residential zone on Second House Road. It opened for business Memorial Day weekend.
    In the video, Mr. McKinley says there was a pool on the property that was not in good condition, so the owners had it filled in and put in a platform that holds a beer garden with Ping-Pong tables, a boccie ball court, picnic tables, umbrellas, and bleachers.
    “It’s supposed to be fun, there are supposed to be a lot of activities, almost like a summer camp,” Mr. McKinley says.
    Ruschmeyer’s has teamed up with Madewell for tie-dye sessions on the lawn. Fliers invite participants to “Get crafty cool with us.”
    Formerly the Second House Tavern, the property is owned by Jonathan Chapski of East End Restaurant Holdings L.L.C., who leases the space to Ruschmeyer’s. The last approved certificate of occupancy for the property is dated 2005.
    The summonses direct the Ruschmeyer’s owners to appear in court on Aug. 29 to clear up any discrepencies between what is listed on the certificate of occupancy and what is actually on the property. At that point, said Tom Preiato, the town’s senior building inspector, they will likely have to go through the proper channels and apply for a certificate of occupancy and building permit for the platform.
    The owners of Ruschmeyer’s, Ben Pundole, Ed Sheetz, and Mr. McKinley, also own the Surf Lodge on Edgemere Street. Though they are separated by Fort Pond, the owners have devised a way for their clientele to travel from bar to bar, either by paddle board across the pond, or by beach-cruisers on the road.
    The Surf Lodge has had issues of its own. It recently received notice of several violations from the East Hampton Town Ordinance Department including having a hot dog truck on site without a permit that also takes up required parking, cleared wetlands, an approximately 12-by-12-foot deck by the water with lounge cushions on it, and an unapproved retail store that sells brand-name goods, among other things.
    Mr. Preiato said other notices of violation are coming, potentially for an additional exterior nonconfirming bar, and for what appears to be an outdoor movie screen with decking nearby.
    “These are the most violations I’ve seen issued in 11 years,” said Mr. Preiato. Town fire marshals have also slapped the Surf Lodge with three fire code violations for overcrowding.
    When asked yesterday for comment about the summonses, Mr. Pundole said, “We haven’t been made aware that we were issued a summons on Monday. The bleachers were approved by the architectural review board and by the department of buildings. We’re looking into the summons now.”    
    Mr. Preiato said yesterday that sometimes people do not realize that they need to apply for a building permit after receiving A.R.B. approval. He said the owners of Ruschmeyer’s will also need to apply for a sign permit.
    There have been complaints from residents who live near both establishments regarding parking and noise. “The traffic needs to be addressed,” said Lola Snow, who lives a block from Ruschmeyer’s. “It’s going very quickly, speeding, and leaving late at night is dangerous.”