After five years of serving up Bavarian-style dishes and enormous steins of German beer, Zum Schneider Montauk, an outpost of the rowdy Manhattan-based German restaurant and biergarten, is up for sale, but will still open for the 2017 on Sunday, April 16.
We caught up with Nest Seekers’ Dylan Eckardt – A.K.A. the “Prince of Montauk” – who scored an exclusive on the listing.
Eckardt, who was born and raised in Montauk, lived in Malibu for a long time before decided to make the move back to Montauk. “Somebody actually told me, ‘Dylan, if you want to make a difference, than make a difference,'” he explained. “So I got into real estate. I ended up being really good at it.”
A Vanity Fair article helped catapult his profile both locally and nationwide. “I got a lot of exposure. People really didn’t understand my story because, you know, I wanted to take care of the locals and preserve my town, as well as make sure revenue is coming in because a lot of these local people weren’t seeing the value of these tourists coming in,” Eckardt said. “My father’s a lobsterman, my mother’s a waitress, so a lot of the locals, we eat off that. If they don’t visit, none of our families could eat.”
His hometown advantage has helped him attain quite a few impressive listings. “I pulled in a couple of big exclusives,” he noted. “I have a great rolodex of influential people that I could call up when I see a passion project, and a lot of the projects I do are something that I’ve seen over the years that have potential. I only go after things that I see potential in, and I want to preserve what Montauk was, but at the same time, revamp my town and keep the revenue coming in.” And, once the sale is final, Eckardt’s efforts don’t stop there, he often introduces future owners to designers, developers, architects, chefs, and other vital staffing, which he did for Tauk at Trail’s End.
Eckardt believes the 4040 Sq. Ft. restaurant that’s located on .18 acres could be a game changer for the area. “This restaurant is a once and a lifetime opportunity. This is the last restaurant for sale. Everything has turned over in the past three or four years. This is the opportunity that should not be missed. It’s a beautiful structure, unbelievable location,” Eckardt told Hamptons.com. “Someone could come in here and it’s turnkey. You take everything with it – all the kitchen equipment. All it needs is someone to come in and give it a little love. That’s what Montauk needs right now – a little love to revamp this town and keep changing and evolve as a small resort town.”
What type of buyer do you think is best suited for the property?
DE: A lot of people that buy property out here, they just want to own a restaurant in Montauk or the Hamptons, and they don’t realize what work goes into it. I see things come and go. What makes me as an agent separate from other people is I can paint a picture. I rendered a bunch of pictures. What I believe could be here could be anything. My vision, I could only tell you what I think could work, my group of people, they want somewhere we could have a great meal and also have a cool bar crowd. They’re too old to go to some of the bars in Montauk, and they don’t want to go home at 7:30, but they still want to have a nice lounge.
What I was pitching was an upper class restaurant – something really cool – that you could go to at 6 p.m., have a great drink at the bar, wait for a table, a cool little lounge area, but you didn’t feel pressured to eat. Something that meets like a SoHo restaurant that meets a beach bar – something in the middle where you can get a margarita after the beach and where you want to hang out for an hour or two. Not somewhere where you’re going to wait in line, eat and get rushed out. Somewhere where it’s very inviting and you could get a great meal. People pay a lot of money to get out here – there’s different groups of people. Not everyone wants to go and drink 100 beers at one of these local bars. Some people want to sit down and have a meal with a great chef and also stay there and sit at the bar. You know, I have a child and my group of people being 38-years-old, as I am, they don’t want to be bumped into by 100 people at a bar. They want to sit down and have a nice drink and appetizers, and have a conversation. It’s really hard to have a great conversation with people at some of these bars in Montauk.
So what I was envisioning was, and I worked with Curious Yellow, an interior designer, and we rendered a lot. I revamped Trails End – I grabbed the chef, and I grabbed this part, and I grabbed that part and made it the way I envisioned it. I’d call up people I knew and said, “This is what we could do here.” And as I’m so artistic, I could paint a picture. It’s really hard for people to see the potential of things because they still have a mentality that these restaurants had 15 years ago. It’s not just a tiny fishing town anymore. The times have changed and you have to adapt to your environment, and a lot of the times, adapting to your environment is adapting change, and change scares people, but it also gives different groups of people the life they need. And a necessity is what I believe the vision of this restaurant could be. It’s one of the biggest restaurants in Montauk; it holds 140 people. It could hold 180. It’s a block off the beach, and it’s separated into three rooms, so you could have a beautiful lounge where you could sit down at a table and have an appetizer and a nice drink as you wait for your table or just go in there and have a meal. The kids can run around – there’s not a lot of drunken chaos. It’s somewhere you go when you leave the beach and have a great meal before you go home. That’s my vision, at least.
Do you think having such a distinctive vision for the property will help you sell it?
DE: Yes, 100 percent. I’ve been flooded with people interested in it. It opens people’s eyes because they think wow, you can make this into that. A lot of these buyers, they want to have a restaurant in Montauk because they think it’s trendy and hot and they think they can make some money, but they don’t have the right idea. Some people do, don’t get me wrong, this is just my opinion. I see what goes on here and I see what’s needed here – that’s what makes me a great agent because I don’t just sell a restaurant, I sell a dream. I sell something that I want to go to. I also facilitate afterwards, I bring people in there and it’s almost like an all-out concierge service. I’m happy to have coffee with these people every day. I don’t want anything but that, and it’s my reputation on the line. I’m a developer of the vision. I’m just telling people, painting a picture of what I believe works. People, they think what works in Brooklyn will work out here – that’s definitely not the case.
You were just talking about change. Some people have been concerned with where Montauk is heading. What’s your perspective on the area’s recent changes?
DE: These places, they always evolve. There’s people that hold on to that mentality. Look, you have to adapt to your environment, especially if you’re an agent. There’s no one doing what I do. And change scares people. But, you know what? After it’s done and they actually see what happens and how much it benefits their culture – like the lobstermen and fishermen sell more fish. The waitresses make more money. It benefits their family. We have four months to make enough money to take care of our families all winter. So people need to understand if we don’t help them, we don’t eat. So, all I’m doing is bringing in something that could benefit people’s families. And, revamping a restaurant that maybe they don’t see the vision, but, after it’s done, should benefit everyone – not only me as an agent, not only the owners, but the whole culture of Montauk.
I used to be very strong headed and think, oh my surf spot is getting crowded, I can’t get a coffee. But then I really thought about it and I said, “Wow, these people that I’m surfing with are putting money into an industry that’s allowing me to eat when I was a child.” Everyone benefits. Who doesn’t benefit from a great restaurant? It puts revenue in our pockets. It brings awareness to the town. We’re not just a small fishing village anymore. We’re fucking trendy and that’s what’s great about this is people work their ass off all winter long to come out here for a few weeks in the summer – to afford that. Why not give them options? Why not do something different? You know?
Your “Prince of Montauk” persona has rubbed some people the wrong way. Is there anything you’d like to say to your critics?
DE: I’ve always been called the “Prince of Montauk.” I have great, strong family ties to Montauk, and I do represent my town. I’m changing the game, singlehandedly. People don’t grow up saying, “I’m going to be a real estate agent.” They say, “I’m going to be a football player. I’m going to be a baseball player.” But I believe I’m making this look cool. I make it look like this for the next generation.
As I said before, change is good – I mean it. I’m on the forefront. In four years, three years, there could be seven more young agents that are like, “Wow Dylan did something different.” I love to be different. I represent different. But in the long run, we’re all doing the same thing. The same property, selling the same dream. And I bring different aspects and ideas. Change is hard. What I do as the “Prince of Montauk” is because I figured that I’d put this town on my back. You can love me or hate me, it’s either or – but either way you’re going to respect me because I’m not doing anything wrong. Just because I talk different, and I surf, and I sell multimillion dollar houses – you can’t deny what I’m doing. Respect is earned and not given in this town. I believe the people that are knowledgeable that see what I’m doing, at first I might have scared them, but when they want to discuss something, they’re calling. When they want something done they’re calling. So business and personal are two different things. Just because I talk different, and act different, doesn’t mean I’m not knowledgeable about the culture and where I come from. I know damn well where I come from. I went to Montauk Public School – my graduating class was 15 kids. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was taught in this town you could be a fisherman, you could be a bartender or you could be a contractor. I got seasick on the ocean. I was too pretty to work construction. So I found my niche and why not run with what I do?
I’m not going to change who I am as a man and as a person. I know what I’m here to do. I’m here to make my town better. I’m here to have a little bit of control over what happens. I’m not here to reap the money. I’m branding, and that’s who the Prince of Montauk is. I’m building a brand.
As of right now, we hear the former Zum Schneider Montauk location, which is listed for $4.1 million, has already received significant interest from restaurant owners in Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as a few local restaurant owners.