Perhaps it was inevitable that the COVID-19 crisis would spawn its own aesthetic in restaurant design, the first hints of which are already beginning to appear. Existing places have been modified to accommodate new restrictions on indoor and outdoor dining, of course, but up next are restaurants planned specifically with coronavirus in mind. How will the layout of dining rooms change? What woods and color schemes will predominate? What about outdoor areas?
For clues, consider a visit to the Main Street Tavern in Amagansett, which, while not a new construction — until March it was Indian Wells Tavern — has been massively overhauled by the NYC-based design firm Ronen Lev.
MORE FOCUS OUTDOORS
“It was a very different vibe before,” said Main Street’s general manager Kit Still of the eatery, which made its debut July 23. “For one thing, there was no garden out back, and now it’s really lovely out there.”
Yes, lovely. The 54-seat beer garden is a laid back — for the Hamptons, anyway — haven of tan umbrellas, unfinished blond wood picnic tables carefully spaced and adorned with tiny pots of herbs. Nearby, planters overflow with white petunias.
“We were always going to have an outdoor area, but it wasn’t going to be the main focus it is now,” mused Still, noting that Main Street is only offering tables outside and a few select seats at the bar inside for dining at present. In the weeks to come, an interior dining room will open, a 40-seat space with cozy, sage green banquettes and a gleaming pressed-tin ceiling. The separate bar area features a walnut bartop and penny-tile flooring, completing a look that’s homey but not stodgy, which is true of Main Street as a whole.
“The restaurant that was here before was known as the local spot to come and hang out, really easygoing. So we’re going for the same vibe, just with a bit more polish,” said Still, whose husband, chef Yusuf Lovett, developed a companionable menu with executive chef Anand Sastry.
ON THE MENU
Typical tavern favorites like fish and chips are on offer, but the kitchen has a decidedly eclectic streak as well. “I think the chicken parm will be a cult classic once people get their hands on it,” Still said of the dish, which is offered as both a sandwich ($17) and entree ($24), “and the tuna melt is magical as well.” The $20 sandwich features fresh tuna steak on an English muffin, American cheese, and “housemade pickles for a little bit of heat.”
Still herself curated the bar program, which quite properly contains a wide selection of brews both local (Montauk’s Wave Chaser IPA) and not (Peroni). A number of summery wines by the glass are also on offer. “The message from the bar is organic and sustainable, along with some names not available everywhere out here,” such as a Bobby Stuckey pinot grigio.
No clumsy Purell stands for Main Street. Sanitizer stations blend into their surroundings, and while ensuring safety and cleanliness is paramount, such efforts are not obtrusive. (The staff performs a stem-to-stern 20-minute disinfectant drill each day, but well before the first guests arrive.) Care has been taken to preserve whatever warmth and friendliness is still possible in a socially distant world, hard as that sometimes can be.
“It’s funny with the guests,” laughed Still. “I find myself walking around the garden and smiling, but no one can see that. I have to learn how to do big eyes or something.”
Main Street Tavern is at 177 North Main Street in Amagansett, 631-267-0400, mainstreettavern.com. Current opening hours, which will expand over time, are from Thursday to Monday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.