From Westhampton to Montauk, what used to be viewed as a Hamptons weekend has changed. Urbanites who always fled the city on Friday afternoons and packed their downtime into two hectic days are now extending their beachy respites. They’re starting their weekends on Thursday afternoons after a day of supposedly working remotely and extending the party into the wee hours of Sunday evening and beyond.
“Thursday is the new Friday,’’ said Renee Towell, 48, a TV producer who was out east with her friend Lisa Bretweiser, 58, on a recent Thursday since neither had to go into the office on Friday. They checked in to the Capri Hotel, went to Argento for dinner and then found a bar with live music. “It was packed and we were dancing the entire time,’’ Towell said.
Local businesses have quickly adjusted to accommodate crowds during the week.
“COVID made weekends irrelevant,’’ said Sylvia Mueller, who owns East Hampton’s tony Mill House Inn. “People who weren’t tied to a schedule realized that weekdays were less expensive. It’s a bit of a bargain and easier for us to get them reservations at popular restaurants.”
Instead of battling traffic on Fridays and Sundays, New Yorkers are now able to enjoy their costly retreats more. “People don’t want to drive home watching the sunset in traffic on the LIE on Sunday night,’’ said Jon Krasner, owner of the Hero Beach Club hotel and Shagwong restaurant in Montauk.
At intimate Elaia Estiatorio in Bridgehampton, women in flowing florals and men in linen shirts are now gathering on “Santorini Sunday” nights, knocking back spicy cucumber jalapeño mezcal cocktails and nibbling on mini chicken souvlaki skewers while dancing to a live DJ until 1 a.m.
“We decided to start it because our Sundays grew in popularity,’’ said Arielle Natale, the restaurant’s general manager. “It goes from 10 to 1 a.m., but if it’s really crazy we will keep cranking.’’
At the Capri Hotel Southhampton, the pool used to be nearly empty on Sunday afternoons. No longer. On a recent 80-degree Sunday, guests were still soaking up the sun as the day drew to a close.
“There are so many people who are working here Monday and Thursday that we have set up poolside stations with chargers, and we also have computers and printers for them,’’ said Michael Pitsinos, a partner in the hotel. “The average stay here was two nights, but that’s changed to three to five nights. I guess it’s cheaper than real estate on Madison Avenue.’’
At the Golden Pear cafes, owner Keith Davis reports a 30% increase in Monday business, and popular sushi spot Kissaki, which was previously closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, has decided to open seven nights a week. Over at Mediterranean restaurant Calissa in Water Mill, June Thursdays used to be slow, but now live music has been introduced to entertain the growing crowd mingling and gyrating on the vast lawn.
Southampton’s 75 Main has had to bring on more workers to accommodate its growing weekday business.
“We used to only have a couple of servers on the floor Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays, but now we’ve had to double the staff on those nights,’’ said owner Zach Erdem. He believes rising crime in the city is one of the reasons revelers are opting to spend as many of the summer days as possible out East. “Customers tell me they feel safer here.’’
Ben Dixon, a 43-year-old real estate broker who lives in Chelsea, is actually spending more time out east because that’s where his work is taking him.
“My Hamptons weekends always started Friday when I took the cannonball train out, and ended Sunday when I headed back to the city,’’ he said. “Now my clients come out Thursday morning, so I am doing a lot of showings then, as well as Mondays because they don’t have to rush back.’’
Working remotely and managing their own hours is, for many, a COVID silver lining. “People are able to have fun again,’’ says Towell. “If the pandemic didn’t reach us to enjoy life, nothing will.’’
Annual events are even shifting to Thursdays. Chefs of the Hamptons, the yearly food and wine happening sponsored by Dan’s Papers, was always held on a Saturday in June. This year, it moved to Thursday. “I felt confident that there are now enough people coming out earlier to hold it on a week night for the first time, and in fact we sold out,” said Don Evans, the event’s producer.
Full-time Hamptonites are adjusting to the new schedule.
“The upside is, we are making more money, but the downside is, we can’t get parking spots at the beach, have to wait on line for bagels or surf equipment, and there are just more kooks,’’ said one local who works in the service industry.
Another local was a bit wistful recalling the days when city folk packed up and left every Sunday.
“We used to sit at Wölffer vineyard, watch the line of cars headed back to the city on Sunday nights and laugh,’’ said one East Hampton resident sharing tacos with her husband at Rita Cantina. “Now, not so much.’’