The Surf Lodge in Montauk will be experiencing major changes this summer as they open their season this Memorial Day weekend. In this question and answer session with The Surf Lodge owner Jayma Cardoso you will see their side of the story in great detail and honesty, concerning their inability to provide live music at the start of this summer season and some other issues. Below are the questions and answers unedited.
What changes should the traditional, loyal Surf Lodge clientele expect this summer and why? Such as live music, parking, drop off access, cabs, Uber, and private cars, Wednesday night music, new menu, chef, etc.
JC: The State Liquor Authority has given us notice that we, as a restaurant, are no longer allowed to have live music performances with the current permit. For the past nine years, (as long as The Surf Lodge has been open) we’ve been allowed to have live bands perform, so this was unexpected news. Once this happened, we started the process of filing so that we would have the necessary license. But unfortunately, until further notice, we have to postpone our concert series. We have been advised, at the minimum, that it will be several weeks before we will receive a response to the filing. In any case, we are going to proceed with creating other shared experiences, while still serving as a thoughtful member of the community. The only difference is that, for now, we won’t have live music and the shared experience it creates. Which is sad really, because the concert series has served as a conduit to help the community as we’ve donated over $300k back to local charities via this programming. But, we still have an amazing Artist Series in our gallery this summer that will feature artists like Scott Campbell, Agathe Snow, Ryan McGuiness, and museum events with the Whitney, Guild Hall, Parrish Art Museum, and the Brooklyn Art Museum, just to name a few. Our free wellness program features some of the most inspiring trainers, healers, and thinkers, such as Gabrielle Bernstein. As well, our incredible restaurant features local fish and produce from organic local farms, and we’ve added a new vegan chef, Jay Astafa, who joins our executive chef Chris Rendell. As always, we encourage guests to use public transportation as we have limited parking.
From your point of view, are the town officials singling out your business, and if so, why?
JC: I believe the Town is trying to honor all members of the community, but I’m not certain it’s realistic or fair to all parties. I think there is a need to address the viability of certain issues. For instance, the noise code is problematic for any business owner because the decibel limits are set up in a way in which everything is a violation. For example, between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., the decibel limit is 55 decibels. To put this in perspective, sitting in my office, with no music playing or other noise, the decibel level when I type on my computer is between 45 and 47 decibels. So, we need to reexamine what constitutes inappropriate noise levels.
Do you think The Surf Lodge has added value to Montauk as a whole?
JC: Absolutely. We’ve always put an emphasis on using local resources, whether it’s fisherman, farms, or other service providers that help make The Surf Lodge experience authentic. We offer free wellness classes; we’ve contributed with cultural events with our artist and concert series; we organize beach clean ups. We have always been open to working with the town on any suggestions they’ve had to serve as a better contributing member of the community. We really take to heart that we are part of a greater community and feel honored to give back to it.
Please add anything you might like to say.
JC: For more than two centuries, the East End has been home to a vibrant community of artists, writers and gifted musicians; amazing talent like the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, and Rufus Wainwright. The list of artists who have drawn inspiration from Montauk is endless. I feel that we have added to that fabric as well by presenting Grammy winning performers like Willie Nelson and Gary Clark Jr., to local artists like Nancy Atlas, Kathleen Fee and Dan Bailey. It’s not just about the big names, but indie up-and-comers who have played at The Surf Lodge before they were well known. The community of Montauk and The Surf Lodge play a vital role in shaping it. We consider it an honor and a privilege to contribute, and be a part of the community that is Montauk.
In conclusion, I hope that those who read this will call or visit East Hampton Town Hall and ask East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell to get the town to issue all necessary licenses.