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Out-of-business sale at Cyril’s Fish House lures big crowd

Customers look through items at a going-out-of-business sale

Customers look through items at a going-out-of-business sale at Cyril's Fish House in Montauk on Saturday, May 28, 2016. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Jonathan Bloom wasn’t expecting to take the famed 12-foot-long Cyril’s Fish House marlin home when he arrived at the landmark Montauk restaurant and bar’s going-out-of-business sale Saturday morning.

“I really didn’t think I’d be able to get it,” Bloom, 45, said after putting down a deposit on his $1,500 prize, which for years has been attached to Cyril’s front wooden wall. “It’s iconic. It’s Cyril’s.”

Twenty minutes after the sale began at 8:30 a.m., employee John Fairchild, who was overseeing the sale, had already received 10 offers for the marlin before accepting Bloom’s.

Asked where he was going to put the giant open-mouthed fish, which is real, Bloom, who has a weekend home in neighboring Amagansett, said with a smile, “In the most prominent spot I can find. I’m thinking it will go across the living room.”

Two other trophy fish — a shark and tuna — also were sold, to a local motel, Fairchild said.

Customers perused framed seashell art, a “Cyril’s Beer Tub” sign, light fixtures, menus, Cyril’s T-shirts and sweatshirts, blenders and other items as a mainly 1960s and 1970s soundtrack of Diana Ross, Sly and the Family Stone and Thelma Houston played in the background.

Fairchild walked around briskly, fielding offers — to a $150 bid for the marlin: “Are you kidding?” — taking cash and listening to glum-faced locals talk about their sadness at seeing Cyril’s close.

Earlier this month, a jury of East Hampton Town residents found Clan-Fritz Inc., the operators of Cyril’s, guilty of 45 misdemeanors related to an illegal expansion.

Cyril Fitzsimons, the restaurant’s owner, decided to close the business because he found East Hampton Town’s settlement offer too onerous, his Deer Park lawyer, John Powers, said.

Fitzsimons was at another bar he owns in the Caribbean and couldn’t attend the sale, friends said.

On the wooden deck outside, Carolyn Zapp pointed at the wall to a 20-by-7-foot tropical-themed mosaic she and a fellow artist created in 1999. She portrayed Fitzsimons wearing sunglasses on a head attached to an orange fish.

Zapp had thought of trying to buy the mosaic back but then decided “I just needed to let it go.”

“We’ve all gotten our pleasure,” she said. “Let someone else enjoy it.”

Zapp has been coming to Cyril’s since about 1990, which is when she and other longtime regulars said it opened.

Paul Ryan, 69, said he, too, has been coming to Cyril’s since the beginning.

Generations of families came to the restaurant and bar, which was sometimes raucous on Saturday afternoons but family-oriented the rest of the week, when kids and dogs ran around while regulars chatted, Ryan said. In the early years, he came to Cyril’s with his four children, who later all worked at the business.

Ryan was standing in the sunlight underneath the marlin, next to the blue wall where photographs of patrons who died once hung. He greeted Rich Hanenberg, 57, one of the many friends he made at Cyril’s.

“This is it,” Ryan said.

“I never thought I’d see this,” Hanenberg said, shaking his head.

“For people in town,” Ryan said, “this is like an extended Irish wake.”

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