Duryea’s restaurants have been a favorite among East Enders for decades. With two locations at both ends of the forks in Montauk and Orient Point, Duryea’s is a place where friends and families love to gather for fresh seafood, wine, and one-of-a-kind views right on the water.
Duryea’s has created a unique dining experience in both of their locations, and their not-so-well-kept-secret market. The market offers incredible coffee and fresh pastries that make it a perfect morning spot in the Hamptons’ summers. Duryea’s also owns Lulu Kitchen & Bar, found in Sag Harbor. Unlike the seasonal Duryea’s locations, Lulu is a year-round Mediterranean bistro that focuses on wood-burning cuisine. It’s also where the famous Duryea’s lobster cobb salad relocates during the off-season so customers can still satisfy those cravings!
Duryea’s has some exciting news about their Orient Point property that will be fully activated for the 2022 summer season—a unique beach club. This offers expansive views of Gardiners Bay, food and drinks from the oyster bar truck, and live music.
Director of Operations Steven Jauffrineau spoke more about what has made Duryea’s so successful on the East End for all these years and how they continue to adapt and thrive as a business.
What is Duryea’s all about?
SJ: It’s all about providing a casual, fun, and timeless experience reminiscent of Europe’s work-life balance lifestyle. Understanding that quality food and friendly service is the basis of good hospitality has and continues to be the driving force behind our brand.
What are some of the must try menu items? What are your favorites?
SJ: Our signature lobster cobb salad seems to have a life of its own. Some of our regulars admittedly travel from up-island to enjoy this dish. Another notable dish is our 3 lb grilled octopus, which was inspired by a trip to Mykonos several years ago. A personal favorite continues to be our breaded calamari with eel sauce. The secret here is that we work with a fresh product, delivered each day, and prepared a-la-minute. It’s involved, but it’s worth it.
How did you get started with your business? When did you decide to start it and why?
SJ: When the property came to market, we felt there was a great opportunity to continue the long and healthy legacy that the Duryea’s family started 80+ years earlier. As a Montauk institution, it was important that we capture and preserve the inherent DNA of the property while giving it a fresh look and feel. The greatest compliment we get is from many in the local community who have been coming to Duryea’s for decades, who tell us that even though the place looks different, it feels the same.
The business seems to be fully centered around the location. How important is the East End of Long Island to the success of Duryea’s?
SJ: Few would argue that the Hamptons, and particularly Montauk, is not special. That being said, we have never taken our location for granted. I’ve personally had many bad meals and experiences dining waterside in a restaurant with great sunsets. Those natural assets help, obviously, but they are not enough. We constantly question our operation and how we can improve it from a guest’s point of view. No one in their right mind is going to wait 2 hours for a table just because they’re sitting by the water. There has to be more, a lot more. The food has to be great, the host has to be friendly, and the space needs to feel clean. There are a lot of moving parts and a big staff, all playing a role to make it happen.
What types of events do you cater most often, and which are your favorites?
SJ: We do a lot of 12-18 people events. Those always seem to be the most fun. Our menu and concept are particularly suited for a convivial, family-style group where family and friends gather to share large plates and even larger bottles of rosé. Duryea’s is all about the fun without the chaos. We have a saying in France “rosé makes you happy, tequila makes you drunk.” We like to keep people happy.
What do you love most about the East End customers? How do the Montauk location and Orient Point location differ from one another?
SJ: East End customers are educated and well-traveled and they know how to pick a good restaurant. That reality alone keeps us on our toes and reminds us constantly that we cannot take our success for granted. When we found Orient Point, we understood the similarities with Montauk of water views and boat access, but we were most excited about what was different between the two properties. Orient Point has a less traveled “end-of-the-world” quality to it that we immediately fell in love with. When done well, the journey is just as important as the destination, and we were up for the challenge. Understanding that, we opted for more of a boho-chic Mykonos vibe in Orient Point as opposed to the south of France feel of the Montauk property.
To run a restaurant, you must have to juggle a lot of responsibilities and wear many different hats. What were your strategies for keeping up with a growing business? Were there any challenges you have faced that stood out?
SJ: Our success is defined by the quality of the people that we hire. That is our secret sauce. It’s not unusual for us to hire people with less experience if we know that they have a good moral compass, great integrity, and play fair. We can teach them the ropes, but we can’t teach them honesty. Hiring well is how we’ve been able to grow, understanding that everyone is capable of taking on more work and more responsibility. When you are in good company, you only have to wear one hat: supporting your employees.
When did you decide to launch the online store and app for Duryea’s?
SJ: Like many, the pandemic became a lightning rod for improvement and good ideas. The app was created at a time when the future of our company was uncertain, not knowing if we would be able to open for the 2020 season. We understood that with European travels being off the table and Covid on the rise, people would retreat to their summer homes in the Hamptons, but many would stop going out. The app was developed to create a bridge between Duryea’s and our customers so they could still feel connected to Duryea’s and order, with ease, food and/or boutique items from the comfort of their home. As a result, our take-out business exploded, which helped us weather the storm.
What is the top quality or value that you feel helped you become successful at running this business and in the restaurant industry as a whole?
SJ: Humility is anyone’s best friend. But it’s hard, especially when things are going well. I try to remind myself constantly that “the cemetery is full of irreplaceable people” and that keeps me leveled, grounded, and in-touch with reality, my employees, my family, and my friends. Not believing your own press is always a good recipe to remain focused and continue creating things that people are going to want.
What has been your greatest accomplishment working in this industry to-date?
SJ: I don’t look at things that way. I don’t think anything I have done is great, I just think I did it sincerely. What results is a by-product of that. I’m excited about the future and the projects ahead and want to continue creating experiences for people to remember and talk about. Simple!
Do you have any advice or wisdom to share for others who might be thinking about starting a business, especially in this industry?
SJ: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the big picture, learn how to problem-solve with ease, and move on to the next item on your list. It’s important to care about the issues without taking things personally. You want to have emotional intelligence in your decision-making process, but you also need to be practical and keep moving.
What else do you want people to know about Duryea’s?
SJ: It’s better experienced than explained, come see for yourself!
Duryea’s will reopen for the summer season in May. The Montauk location will open on May 12th and Orient Point will open on May 19th. Until then, check out Lulu Kitchen & Bar in Sag Harbor, or visit Duryea’s online store at https://duryeas.com.
They look forward to seeing everyone for an amazing 2022 season in Montauk and Orient Point!