More Takeout May Be on the Menu

The Juice Press has been forced to have the juices it sells shipped to East Hampton prepackaged. Carissa Katz

The East Hampton Village Board will hold a public hearing tomorrow at 11 a.m. on a proposed law that would allow retail stores in the commercial district to prepare and sell takeout food and beverages. 

The law would amend zoning code provisions adopted in 2008 that prohibited new retail stores from preparing food on site and then serving it in a ready-to-consume state in paper or plastic containers. The code drew a distinction between stores with no indoor seating (classifying them as “fast-food” establishments) and sit-down restaurants, which are welcome to provide takeout. 

Pre-existing sites, such as the one now occupied by Mary’s Marvelous, were not affected by the code change, but newly established stores in locations that had not previously offered takeout food were forbidden from selling to-go items prepared on site. 

The restriction has been burdensome to several retail businesses, said Becky Molinaro Hansen, the village administrator. The Juice Press, for instance, has been forced to have the juices it sells shipped to East Hampton prepackaged. Second Nature, the vitamin and herbal supplements shop, which makes freshly prepared juices and smoothies at its Southampton location, has been eager but unable to do the same in East Hampton. “People want to see you take the cucumber and squeeze it in front of them,” said Lisa Blinderman, the owner of Second Nature, who said that easing the code would be good for all village businesses. “Food is what brings people into town,” she said. 

The new law could also prove to be a boon to the owners of the Buoy One seafood market on Race Lane, who are looking to open a Hamptons Coffee Company store in the space next door to their shop.

In its announcement of the public hearing, the board noted that the initial intent of the 2008 code was to limit littering and to keep public trash receptacles from overflowing, but it acknowledged that, while those issues are still a concern, there is a growing consumer demand for takeout food and beverages.