Hamptons-based restaurateur Zach Erdem plans to open three new locations this summer on Greenport’s Main Street, formerly Kontiki, Gallery Hotel and Gallery Cafe.
Mr. Erdem is known for Southampton restaurants 75 Main and Blu Mar, and the reality TV series Serving the Hamptons, which featured 75 Main staff and celebrity guests. The Greenport Village board invited Mr. Erdem to introduce himself at Thursday’s public meeting and for villagers to comment on his two pending State Liquor Authority applications.
Typically, public comments on SLA applications are not heard at village board meetings. Deputy Mayor Mary Bess Phillips told the Suffolk Times that going forward, the village will seek public comment on all SLA submissions.
Mr. Erdem addressed the board and attendees and said he looked forward to being a part of the Greenport community. After immigrating to the U.S. from Turkey in 2002, “I went from being a dishwasher, bus and manager, to owning my own restaurant,” he said. “Greenport gave me goosebumps. I couldn’t believe it when I saw all the sheep and other animals around the village. … It took me back in time [in Turkey.]”
Mr. Erdem will launch ZErdem, a full-service Mediterranean-themed restaurant at 314 Main Street, ZEY Hotel and the adjacent Cafe 75, which will serve breakfast and lunch at 443 Main Street.
Mr. Erdem also stated that he does not intend to turn ZErdem into a nightclub with loud music and loud dancing, and that he will not change the building or make any extensions.
Follow-up questions from the board focused on logistical issues, such as the hours Mr. Erdem planned for each business. Mayor Kevin Stuessi reminded Erdem that he would need approval from the Zoning Appeals Board for any signage.
Two members of the community expressed concern, largely based on issues they had experienced with previous operations at the locations.
Charlie Kulsziski said Kontiki had been noisy and crowded in previous years and feared Mr Erdem’s new restaurant would continue that pattern. Ruth Wiesehahn said that in previous years, the hotel parking lot was often too brightly lit, and Mr. Erdem was asked to ensure that the garbage was stored neatly. Mr Kulsziski added he was concerned about Mr Erdem’s track record, noting that both 75 Main and Blu Mar had their liquor licenses suspended in 2020 for breaching Covid restrictions.
Mayor Stuessi refrained from having Mr. Erdem make these comments during the meeting, instead encouraging Mr. Kulsziski and Ms. Wiesehahn to speak directly to Mr. Erdem.
Mr. Erdem also clarified to the board that he had seen animals and livestock throughout the North Fork and not specifically in Greenport Village as he had previously stated.
Chef Cheo Avila, who has run multiple restaurants at both locations, opened the Gallery Cafe at the hotel last summer and runs Kontiki at 314 Main Street. Mr. Avila will open a new concept restaurant called minnowin New Suffolk this summer.
The ZEY Hotel has opened with eight rooms and two suites. Erdem said during the meeting that he plans to open the restaurant soon and offer free wine to guests until he gets a liquor license.