Saunders, Real Estate, Hamptons

Business Center

May 26, 2009 7:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Maid celebrates 50 years in business

May 26, 2009 7:18 PM

When the Hampton Maid first opened on May 22, 1959, the cost of a weeknight stay at the inn was $10, and a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night went for $35.

“That was big money back then,” said owner Steve Poulakis.

Today, a weeknight at the Hampton Maid can cost more than $250 in the summer, and a whole week in July can set someone back more than $1,800—which its loyal customers gladly pay, Mr. Poulakis said.

And while the scenery in Hampton Bays has evolved significantly in the past 50 years, the ambiance of the Hampton Maid, a quiet retreat set atop a lush green hill on Montauk Highway, remains unchanged.

The picturesque property sprawls over 5 acres halfway between Southampton and the heart of Hampton Bays. Each of the inn’s 29 rooms contains a plush bed, an outdoor deck and a flat-screen high definition television.

In addition to a pool and playground, guests can also browse the gift shop, which features Mr. Poulakis’s handmade wooden birdhouses.

But Mr. Poulakis and his wife, Sharon, who also helps run the establishment, say that it is the little touches that make their business unique.

“We love what we do, and it shows,” Ms. Poulakis said.

Although customers rave about the beauty of each unique guest room, personally decorated by the Poulakises’ daughter, Tara, the owners say people also come from far and wide to sample the breakfast offered at the restaurant on the property, also named the Hampton Maid.

The restaurant offers a country-style breakfast featuring fresh berries, homemade muffins and corned beef hash, among its many options.

But patrons must rise and shine early if they want a seat in the restaurant, which is open from April to November. The Poulakises do not accept reservations. Breakfast is served daily from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m., and the line to get a table is almost always a long one.

Jim Rooney has been a resident of Hampton Bays for 25 years and has been visiting the Hampton Maid’s restaurant for just as long, he said. He is the first customer in line for breakfast every April.

“I’m not a food critic, but I know quality,” he said.

Eggs Benedict is a favorite dish for Mr. Rooney, who said he visits the restaurant at least once a week for what he said is a family atmosphere and superior service. “I’ve been waited on by mothers, daughters and now granddaughters,” he said.

Steve Poulakis’s father, John, and mother, Marion, purchased the Hampton Maid in 1958 while the couple was visiting the East End from Baldwin. They bought the property, then named the Sail Inn, and opened the Hampton Maid one year later. The senior Mr. Poulakis is still very involved with the business.

To commemorate the milestone anniversary, patrons can order a $34 breakfast plate for two throughout the establishment’s 50th anniversary year, but the owners say that the business is not pulling any over-the-top stunts to celebrate its five decades in business.

“I don’t think we’re doing anything gimmicky,” Ms. Poulakis said, explaining that gimmicks are not the Hampton Maid’s style.

Although the Hampton Maid is a family owned and operated business, Steve Poulakis said he fought his calling to run the establishment until he was 25 years old. Until that point, he worked as a carpenter. “Carpentry was really hard work,” he said. “I was killing myself.”

Ms. Poulakis, who married when she was 19, never pursued another career. The couple’s son Josh and Mr. Poulakis’s sister Leslie Bellows also work for the family business.

Ms. Poulakis said that neither she nor her family members received any formal training in the hotel or restaurant industry. “It’s all based on experience,” she said.

The Poulakises say there a few establishments like the Hampton Maid, with its elegant, yet laid-back atmosphere and views of Shinnecock Bay, in all of Southampton Town.

“We’re not pretentious,” he said. “We are un-Hamptons.”

In fact, the couple say they rarely rent to the traditional Hamptons partiers and instead prefer to cater to families looking for a quiet getaway.

You've read 1 of 7 free articles this month.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

A $34 breakfast plate for two?
What do you get with your eggs for $34? Filet mignon.... champagne.... caviar?
Hampton Maid is a lovely place but not that lovely.
By rickyonmain (10), southampton on May 27, 09 10:29 AM
You've obviously never eaten there. It's well worth the money, and countless people would agree.
By trishyk (2), Center Moriches on May 27, 09 11:44 AM
Oh my goodness rickyonmaim has never been to the Hampton Maid for the best breakfast around. We've been going there since the 1970's. Nowhere else can you get a really good meal served by pleasent friendly waitresses in such a lovely setting.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on May 27, 09 2:37 PM
Congratulations to the Poulakis Family! They have a fabulous establishment and are some of the most wonderful people you'd ever want to meet! Thank you for all your contributions to our Hamlet.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on May 28, 09 7:15 AM
GREAT article !!! Before we bought our place out East we stayed there for a week 3 summers in a row with our 4 boys back in the 80's and loved it !!! Only issue I have with the article is that it didn't pay enough respect to the real Hampton Maid !!! The elder Mrs Poulakis who passed a number of years ago was in my mind the person that molded and architected the environment that made the place so special and her heirs have been able to ride that wave for many years ... lucky them and ...more
By pcd328 (4), Wainscott on May 29, 09 10:10 AM
You are so right PCD328...Mrs. Poulakis was a wonderful lady who built a legacy for her children.
By BeachGal (72), Hampton Bays on May 29, 09 10:24 AM
We stayed at the Hampton Maid motel on our wedding night - June 6, 1970. Next week we will celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary! It rained on our wedding day and our attendents thought it would be funny to stick toilet paper all over the car. The next morning, we picked it up all over the Hampton Maid's parking lot. We don't live on LI anymore but, when we did, we would always drive by with fond memories.
By MissusG (2), Chester on May 29, 09 10:28 AM
Hey Ricky just wanted to say you shouldnt open your mouth til you try the food. The food is amazing the family is a great crew and the service there in unbelievable. You can keep sticking to your terrible food at friendlys. Instead of complaining about the prices why dont you dig in your hip and try it out. Who cares if it is expensive. The amount of food that you get and the quality there is out of this world.
By fatty2002 (2), Hampton Bays on May 29, 09 3:48 PM
place rules for breakfast. family is very, very chill. that is all there is to it. peace.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on May 29, 09 5:23 PM
Poor Ricky. Everyone comes down on him for pointing out the obvious! That is a ridiculous price. Yes, their breakfast is good but there are many other places you can get good breakfast out here without dropping $34. And that $34 is just for openers. My husband and I have eaten there several times and it has cost $50 for both of us to have breakfast off the prix fixe menu. I grew up out here and still live here. I've been there many times, had tons of friends who worked there, and I know the people. ...more
By LocalTeacher (23), Southampton on May 29, 09 7:07 PM
Local Teacher you and Ricky are right! The food is good, but the price doesn't make it some place you go to regularly. It is a treat to go to the Hampton Maid not a weekly happening..especially in these times.
By BeachGal (72), Hampton Bays on May 30, 09 1:38 PM
I have travelled a lot all over the country and the Hampton Maid serves by far the best breakfast I have ever had.
By Walt (292), Southampton on May 31, 09 2:04 PM
If you don't like the prices don't go there ! Simple enough , isn't it ?
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on May 31, 09 4:24 PM
I just checked in on all the follow-ups to my comment of 5/27. Thank you BeachGal and LocalTeacher for your agreement and as to fatty2002, trishyk and summertime ... I never said I haven't eaten there! I have eaten there at least five or six times in the past and I the food is okay but not worth the price.
By rickyonmain (10), southampton on Jun 1, 09 9:42 PM