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Aug 7, 2015 3:20 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Duryea's Lobster Deck In Montauk May Stay Open One More Season

Duryea’s Lobster Deck in Montauk. KYRIL BROMLEY
Aug 10, 2015 9:54 AM

Duryea’s Lobster Deck and Seafood Market on Fort Pond Bay in Montauk—a popular spot for sunset-watching and enjoying fresh lobster—is likely to remain open into 2016, despite its having been sold in March of last year.

Perry Duryea III, whose family had owned the business since the 1930s, leased it back from the new owner until construction of the seafood restaurant that will take its place can get under way.

The new owner, whom Mr. Duryea declined to name, but who is Marc Rowan, still needs to get the necessary permits before construction can begin, Mr. Duryea explained.

He says he is ready to move on from his family’s business, which has endured successfully for three generations.

“I’ve been here full-time for over 40 years and there are a few other things in my life that I would like to pursue,” he said, adding that he is a cancer survivor and serves as a counselor for others who are battling cancer. He called counseling his second vocation. “That, combined with the fact that I’m 66 now—I just figured it was time to move on,” Mr. Duryea said.

He is happy with the seafood restaurant that is scheduled to replace the Lobster Deck and all that comes with it on the 9-acre property—which for now contains spaces for lobster tanks, areas for packing seafood, coolers, freezers, office space and two retail shops. He described the planned restaurant as “beautiful” and “understated.”

“My wife [Wendy] and I would not have sold the property if someone would just come in here and make it a nightclub,” he added.

The property, which also has 650 feet of shoreline, had been on the market for roughly three years.

“It is going to be different, but it’s going to be beautiful. And I’m just very happy that someone came along with the vision and the resources, because this is going to be a big job,” Mr. Duryea explained of the planned seafood restaurant.

Mr. Duryea’s grandfather, Perry Duryea Sr., started Perry B. Duryea & Son Inc. seafood distribution and ice manufacturing business in the 1930s. Perry Duryea Jr., Mr. Duryea’s father, took over the business after World War II and redirected it to a lobster wholesale business. He explained that his father saw the opportunity and market to transport lobsters from Maine and Canada to Montauk, and then distribute them across Long Island to restaurants and supermarkets.

Today, the lobsters are still sourced from Maine and Canada. “They taste better because they come out of colder water, and they also travel better over the road,” Mr. Duryea said, adding that he does not buy local products.

Mr. Duryea came back to Montauk in 1974 to work full-time with his father after he finished graduate school at Columbia University, where he earned his MBA. When his father died in 2004, Mr. Duryea shifted the business away from wholesale to concentrate solely on the Lobster Deck, the fresh fish market, and the packaged ice business. He no longer wanted to run trucks up and down Long Island, he said.

“People have been so happy to come back this year because everyone thought last year that there wouldn’t be a Lobster Deck anymore,” Mr. Duryea said.

The regular customers who frequent the Lobster Deck at least once or twice a week, including Ina Garten and her husband, Jeffrey, are among those who are most relieved, he said.

“I think the appeal of this place is that the food is good, we have a beautiful setting, we have a very good staff and they’ve been with me for a long time,” Mr. Duryea said. “And, when you come here you see the same thing every time.”

Mr. Duryea said the scenery is what captivated the buyer to purchase the property—and that, along with his connection to the Lobster Deck and seafood market, is what Mr. Duryea will miss the most.

“I’m going to miss the sound of the salt water running through the lobster tanks; I’m going to miss the swans and ducks across the street, because I feed them every morning just as my father did—I walk over with some corn and they all come waddling out of the pond. It is those things that I am going to miss,” Mr. Duryea said as he reflected on the past 40 years.

“This business is very much a part of me and I am very much a part of this business.”

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