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Apr 13, 2016 10:36 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Publick House To Take Over Drivers Seat

The Southampton Publick House will relocate by the beginning of summer.
Apr 13, 2016 10:46 AM

The Southampton Publick House will be taking over the Drivers Seat restaurant on Jobs Lane in Southampton Village, and could be open at the new site within the next week.

The Publick House, a restaurant and on-site brewery, closed its doors at its location at 40 Bowden Square this past Sunday night, after 20 years in business there.

Publick House owner Don Sullivan said on Tuesday that the business on Jobs Lane will remain a full-service restaurant and bar. The equipment to brew his award-winning beer will stay at the Bowden Square building for now, and he will continue to produce beer for the new restaurant at the old site, at least for the time being. He has said his long-term goal for the business is to expand its brewery operation at a new location—but not at the Jobs Lane destination.

“We’ve gotten a nice relationship with the incoming group. It’s a pretty nice cooperative effort,” Mr. Sullivan said. “We will be open as soon as possible, which could be as soon as a couple of days.

“We’ve received all of our county and local approvals—we’re not going to do any major physical changes. It will be a full-service restaurant and bar tavern. I’m not looking to change the nature of it,” he added.

The Drivers Seat has been a fixture on Jobs Lane for decades. For the last 10 years it has been owned by Irma Herzog, who purchased the building and famous restaurant from its longtime operators, John Barnhill and Doug Murtha.

The restaurant issued a statement on Monday announcing that it would be leasing its property at 62 Jobs Lane to the Publick House. According to the statement, signed by Ms. Herzog on behalf of “the Drivers Seat team,” the new lease means “the end of one era” for the 55-year-old restaurant, “and the continuation of another.”

“We are thrilled to afford the team at Southampton Publick House the opportunity to continue their younger 20-year tradition of serving the village community,” it read, adding, “We wish to thank the village and all of our patrons for decades of your faithful business. We thank the scores of people who have worked at the Drivers Seat over the past 55 years. For many, it was a first job, and for others it was a chance to let their experience and professionalism shine. Without each of you, the restaurant would not have been the same.”

It is still not known for certain what will be replacing the Publick House. Plans currently on file with the Southampton Village Building Department indicate that a company called Bowden Square LLC is seeking a permit to paint the building’s exterior a light gray with white trim. That agency was also before the Southampton Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board on Monday night to replace an awning at the property.

According to a letter included in the application’s folder, Bowden Square LLC, as of March 25, was negotiating a lease with the property’s owner, now named PMA Southampton LLC. Bowden Square LLC is represented on the application by Ian Duke, co-owner of the Southampton Social Club.

Over the last few weeks he has declined to comment on community speculation that he would be next to occupy the Bowden Square space, saying, “Rumors are rumors and often very little more.”

The Publick House’s former home was sold in October to the Woodbury-based DiNoto Group. At the time, Mr. Sullivan said he had considered buying the property himself, but that the asking price was “unrealistic” for him. He had explained that if he could not work out a long-term lease with the new owner, he would be willing to move the business elsewhere.

On Tuesday, he said he was happy the situation worked out. “While we’ve had some challenges for sure, it’s very exciting to know that we can kind of reinvent it and start another 20-year run,” Mr. Sullivan said.

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As reported by Mouthampton. Count it!
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Apr 9, 16 3:50 PM
I worked at the Drivers Seat in 1973, owned by Roman Swiderski
at the time. Doug Murtha came after that.
By J. Frankenbach (15), Southampton on Apr 9, 16 3:57 PM
I can't see how they will accommodate the crowds they usually do in that space, especially with an expanded brewery there to. I suppose someone figured it out though. I wonder how well the neighborhood will fare with the college crowd on happy hours. But good luck!
Apr 9, 16 4:20 PM appended by Toma Noku
Oh...Will all the cabs line up on Jobs Lane to pick up people?
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Apr 9, 16 4:20 PM
King Moore opened it in the 1960's, as a very small cozy pub, the likes of which have not been seen in The Hamptons in recent decades . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 9, 16 4:40 PM
By jacy (2), quogue on Apr 14, 16 11:56 AM
Drivers Seat used to be a local place until the last transfer. Then it lost its local identity. Food was never the same either. Publik House caters to the locals which is a key to success out here. Perhaps Sully will make it work turning it back into a local place. This will also bring some much needed traffic to a deserted downtown.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Apr 9, 16 5:27 PM
I suspect that traffic in downtown will remain thin, considering the gauntlet of SVPD patrols the patrons might have to endure. Aside from that one exception on Main Street it seems like official policy to make late night entertainment in the Village more trouble than it's worth. On several occasions I've been intentionally tailgated by patrol cars that were seemingly trying to distract me to make me do something wrong and give them cause for a traffic stop.
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Apr 12, 16 4:25 AM
Albeit smaller, it will have better parking and more foot traffic. Should do well. I will join Kevin Luss there for a drink or two.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Apr 9, 16 5:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
Good luck Sully and all the great people who work at the Publik House, see you soon!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 9, 16 5:42 PM
You must be an old-timer, I had forgotten he owned the place. Roman or Arnie Paster owned everything at one time or another, it seems

The Seat used to be the center of nightlife in the Village, but it really died down in the '90's after Doug Murtha sold it. What a change.
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Apr 9, 16 6:04 PM
Good Move Don!!! So happy to keep a local favorite local!!!
By powerwalker (52), Southampton on Apr 9, 16 7:40 PM
Good luck, Sully... You're always a class act! Can't wait to see what the next chapter brings!
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Apr 9, 16 9:22 PM
Glad to see the Public House will be back, As for the Drivers Seat i will not miss it.I Never understood how they stayed in business as long ads they did.
By mjpnyc (1), NEW YORK on Apr 10, 16 1:26 PM
Thanks for keeping it local Don and for the locals. The Publick House would have been sorely missed. Look forward to a cozy pub again, which the Drivers Seat has not been for many years.
By masinmary (11), southampton on Apr 10, 16 3:06 PM
Great news. I honestly can't remember when someone suggested to meet at the Drivers Seat.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Apr 10, 16 9:03 PM
Was hoping for more of an upgrade, but it will be good to have something decent in that space again.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Apr 11, 16 10:05 AM
"more of an upgrade?" You mean something chic, trendy, upscale, overpriced and gone in a year? No thanks.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Apr 11, 16 12:37 PM
2 members liked this comment
No, just not another sad, tired, old building like the one they just left. No one said anything about chic, trendy or upscale. Learn how to read. Feels like they're just transplanting from one location to another. Don't worry though, I'll be there.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Apr 11, 16 1:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
There's nothing sad or tired about either building and you still haven't said what you mean by "more of an upgrade." Learn to write.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Apr 13, 16 10:04 AM
Sad and tired? I'm 29 and there are far more younger than I who don't feel that the Publick House's arena is/was sad and tired. It's got a historic, cozy feel without the grime and grunge of some dive. Not everything that is new sparkles.
By PrintedWord### (16), East Hampton on Apr 12, 16 10:28 AM
1 member liked this comment
Looking forward to evenings out the back!! The last incarnation of the Seat was not friendly to year round residents , glad to have the Publik House on Job's Lane!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 12, 16 3:05 PM
Hey excellent good news. Thank you for staying local. And thank you for sprucing up the outside of the old Bowden Square location - never looked as good as you are leaving it in all the years it has been there. Wow - this was a much speculated upon subject - your move. Shows what is essential to quite a lot of the people of Southampton.
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Apr 16, 16 12:27 PM
The last iteration of the DS sucked. When the blew out the front they destroyed the pub like charm that made it welcoming. Those metal chairs were a disgrace. The wrong operators for that location, and the village in general.
The Sullivans have been great and I hope they bring some good cheer and local welcome to that location.
And yea, the cops will be spoiling the fun. I still remember how lively the village was in the Mike's Monument Sq days.
It will be interesting to see what happens ...more
By smacw (240), New York on Apr 19, 16 10:20 AM