Zach Erdem of ‘Serving the Hamptons’ is launching three new businesses in Greenport

Hamptons-based restaurateur Zach Erdem has plans to open three new businesses on Main Street in Greenport this summer in spaces formerly occupied by Kontiki, the Gallery Hotel and the Gallery Cafe.

Mr. Erdem is known for Southampton restaurants 75 Main and Blu Mar, as well as the reality television series “Serving the Hamptons,” which follows the staff and celebrity guests at 75 Main. The Greenport Village Board of Trustees invited Mr. Erdem to introduce himself at a public meeting Thursday, as well as to allow village residents to share comments regarding his two pending State Liquor Authority applications.

Typically, public comments on SLA applications have not been heard at Village Board meetings. Deputy Mayor Mary Bess Phillips told the Suffolk Times that going forward, the village will hear public comments on all SLA applications as they are filed.

Mr. Erdem addressed the board and meeting attendees and said he looked forward to becoming part of the Greenport community.  After moving to the United States from Turkey in 2002, “I worked my way up from dishwashing, bussing and managing, all the way up to owning my restaurants,” he said. “Greenport gave me goosebumps. When I saw all the sheep and other animals around the village, it was incredible for me. … It brought me back to my old days [in Turkey.]”

Mr. Erdem will be launching ZErdem, a full service Mediterranean-themed restaurant at 314 Main Street, the ZEY Hotel and the adjacent Cafe 75 which will offer breakfast and lunch at 443 Main Street.

Mr. Erdem also noted that he does not plan for ZErdem to serve as a nightclub with loud music and dancing, and that he will not be altering the buildings or making any expansions.

The Board’s follow-up questions mostly focused on logistical issues, such as Mr. Erdem’s planned hours of operation for each business. Mayor Kevin Stuessi reminded Erdem that he’d need to get any signage approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Two members of the community expressed concerns, which were largely based on issues they had experienced with the prior businesses at those locations.

Charlie Kulsziski said in previous years, Kontiki had been noisy and crowded at all hours and was worried that Mr. Erdem’s new restaurant will continue that pattern. Ruth Wiesehahn said that the hotel parking lot was often too brightly-lit in previous years, and asked Mr. Erdem to make sure the garbage is stored in a tidy manner. Mr. Kulsziski added that he was concerned with Mr. Erdem’s track record, noting that both 75 Main and Blu Mar had temporarily lost their liquor licenses in 2020 for violating Covid restrictions. 

Rather than have Mr. Erdem address these comments during the meeting, Mayor Stuessi encouraged Mr. Kulsziski and Ms. Wiesehahn to speak with Mr. Erdem directly.

Mr. Erdem also clarified to the board that he had seen animals and livestock throughout the North Fork, not specifically in Greenport Village, as he’d previously stated.

Chef Cheo Avila, who had run several restaurants in both locations, opened the Gallery Cafe in the hotel last summer and operated Kontiki out of 314 Main Street. Mr. Avila will open a new concept restaurant, called Minnow, in New Suffolk this summer.

The ZEY Hotel is already open, featuring eight rooms and two suites. Erdem said during the meeting that he plans to open the restaurants soon and will serve complimentary wine to guests until he secures his liquor licenses.