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Jun 1, 2010 5:32 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

New owner of Fairway Restaurant hoping to move in in late June

Jun 1, 2010 5:32 PM

Time is money, and Mike Avella, the soon-to-be-operator of the Love Lane Café at the Poxabogue Golf Course in Sagaponack, said he has been losing both since Mother’s Day.

Mr. Avella has been waiting since then for the former Fairway Restaurant to be rehabilitated for his use. The space is in pretty rough shape, he said.

“There was a lot of damage done to the building, as well as a pretty serious mold problem,” said Mr. Avella, who also owns the Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck.

Ed Wankel, the manager of the golf course, estimates that Mr. Avella could have brought in a gross food revenue of $40,000 over Memorial Day weekend had the restaurant been open.

Southampton Town Board member Chris Nuzzi, who has been the town’s liaison to the restaurant and golf course, said this week that he had not heard of Mr. Avella’s complaints about the condition of the building. The town co-owns Poxabogue with East Hampton Town and has a contract with Mr. Wankel’s company, Long Island Golf Management, to operate it.

“There are some things the town is looking to fix, and some things are the responsibility of the concession,” he said; Mr. Avella’s restaurant is considered the concession. “It’s just like in any public-private venture or private venture.”

Regardless, Mr. Nuzzi said he has a meeting set up with Mr. Avella and Mr. Wankel this week.

Danny Murray, who operated his Fairway Cafe at Poxabogue for nearly 20 years, vacated the premises March 31. Mr. Wankel and Mr. Avella claim he “trashed” the building. Specifically, Mr. Avella said Mr. Murray “ripped a sink off the wall and broke tiles in the dining room.”

Mr. Murray said that when he moved out about three months ago, all he did was take his own personal equipment, though he acknowledged that there could be a mold problem in the building—the basement sink always leaked, he said. “What we did was just took our equipment and left it the way we found it,” he said.

Mr. Wankel said that he notified the town, specifically Management Services Administrator Richard Blowes, about the items Mr. Murray took from the restaurant and is claiming that by removing the sink and tiles, Mr. Murray violated a contract he signed in 2004. “It’s clear that everything should’ve stayed,” he said.

That doesn’t appear to be true, according to a contract provided by Gayle Heinrich, an administrative assistant to Mr. Blowes. It says that once the contract with Mr. Murray ended, Mr. Murray was responsible for all of his equipment. Any equipment left in the building after the 
lease ended would have had to be removed at Mr. Murray’s expense.

In the wake of Mr. Murray’s departure, Southampton Town is responsible for bringing the structure up to code and will have someone eradicate the mold this week, Mr. Wankel said.

Mr. Nuzzi emphasized that any cesspool and electrical issues are things that the town would take care of, and any interior design or kitchen issues are the responsibility of the business operating there.

Mr. Avella will bring in new kitchen equipment, furnishings, and “things like that,” Mr. Wankel said, and he hopes to set up the cafe by July 4.

“I’m praying for before the Fourth of July, obviously,” Mr. Avella said. “That would be a disaster, if I couldn’t get in before then ... I would be in there tomorrow if I could.”

Mr. Murray, meanwhile, said he is now planning to open a new restaurant on the South Fork. He has a few prospective places where he might house his new place, but he declined to disclose their location.

“We were running a good show there,” he said of the popular Fairway restaurant.

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Chris Nuzzi has turned this situation into a diaster. Hope Danny gets a new place open soon.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jun 3, 10 2:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
Murray gets the last laugh!
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on Jun 3, 10 3:15 PM
By littleplains (305), olde england on Jun 3, 10 7:20 PM
Danny, keep us posted. You and your wonderful family of employees are missed!
By nsea93 (39), Southampton on Jun 3, 10 8:25 PM
Mr. Wankel can't have it both ways....what a whiner!!!
By EQme (112), East Quogue on Jun 3, 10 9:42 PM
Classic Hamptons. Give a management contract with lax oversight to an outsider (Ed Wanker). then sit back and watch him run a good operator off the premises for no reason at all. Then the town (a k a the taxpayers) end up paying to upgrade the property - not the management co, not the restaurant.
By littleplains (305), olde england on Jun 3, 10 10:22 PM
MOLD? Did somebody say mold? In a restaurant? The only thing we'll see served there for awhile is rotten eggs and sour grapes. Wankel deserves whatever he gets,
By we could run this town! (129), wonderful Wainscott on Jun 4, 10 8:14 AM
Looks like a mid September opening. Suffolk County Board of Health should be all over this establishment.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jun 4, 10 12:55 PM
not looking forward for the opening of the new place
By Bel (86), southampton on Jun 5, 10 4:02 PM
That place should be owned privately anyway ... I don't know too many locals that would shell out $50 to play on a course that is little more than a par 3 course . Half that money and there is a fine course on 114 in Sag Harbor ... and you can use your driver more than once . Just sucks that local municipalities own a course and locals can't afford to play there .
By AndersEn (174), Southampton on Jun 6, 10 10:42 AM
3 members liked this comment
LoveLane Kitchen in Mattituck is a great place. Give them a chance!
By artizt101 (29), Hampton Bays on Jun 7, 10 7:27 AM
By asurest (117), easthampton on Jun 7, 10 7:18 PM
Mr. Wankel estimates a loss of 40,000 in revenue over the Memorial Day weekend. That would be revenue to who? How about the rent we are (Town of Southampton and East Hampton) due to your not READING THE CONTRACT. I should come out of your bottom line not ours. The negotiation was a sham and the new leasee is in for a rough ride if he doesn't protect himself from the very beginning. Just my oppinion but we need new management ASAP. Oh and by the way there is no BUILDING PERMIT on the premises yet ...more
By Bob Schepps (77), Southampton on Jun 7, 10 9:35 PM
totally got it right. As i said - only in SH can the government allow a contracted management co to run off a perfectly fine operator for no valid reason, then bring in a new vendor with no valid negotiation... and leave us footing the bill for "improvements". Classic
By littleplains (305), olde england on Jun 8, 10 9:58 PM