Court Nixes Nightclub at Montauk's Grey Lady

Restaurant by day, club by night. East Hampton Town has won a temporary restraining order barring the owners of Grey Lady on Montauk Harbor from operating a nightclub there. T.E. McMorrow

The Grey Lady, a Montauk harborside restaurant that has been cited several times this summer for overcrowding, is under court order to limit the number of people it admits and to stop operating as a nightclub in violation of East Hampton zoning rules.

Town officials went to court last week after observing a crowd numbering well over the restaurant's maximum occupancy limit, Michael Sendlenski, the town attorney, said, and after finding that dining and bar tables had been removed to transform the Grey Lady into a night spot.

A temporary restraining order issued by State Supreme Court Judge Elizabeth Emerson on Friday precludes the business and property owners from operating a nightclub. The site may only be used as it is zoned, as a restaurant, according to the court order, which also caps the indoor occupancy limit at 68.

The terms mirror those imposed by a judge two years ago when a different restaurant, known as the Harbor Raw Bar and Lounge, or the Harbor, was doing business there. Ordinance enforcement officers and fire marshals that summer shut down the place on busy nights, when as many as 300 patrons had been admitted. A temporary restraining order was issued.

The owner of the property, at 440 West Lake Drive, remains the same -- a limited liability corporation called Spiritoso. 

The town is now seeking a permanent injunction "to enforce a use pursuant to the zoning code," Michael Sendlenski, the town attorney, said Monday, and was seeking a contempt charge against the landlords. A return to court is scheduled for Aug. 24.

The town's recent court petition marks the second time in several weeks that East Hampton officials have sought a restraining order to stop violations of the town code. On July 26, East Hampton officials moved against Tinder Select, an exclusive, members-only branch of the app-based dating site, which was using a private oceanfront residence in Montauk for its soirees.

The request prompted lawyers for Tinder Select to negotiate an agreement with the town through which illegal use of the property would cease. Tinder had reportedly rented the house for the month of July.

Correction: The property in question is owned by Spiritoso L.L.C. and not by James Willis and Robert Hirsh as previously reported.