The Changing Face of Main Street, Sag Harbor

Posted on 23 December 2011

web Java Nation 12-22-11_7924

One of the things North Haven artist April Gornik loves most about coming into Sag Harbor Village is the smell of roasting coffee beans emanating from Java Nation, a veritable Sag Harbor institution tucked into the Shopping Cove in the heart of the business district.

For 17 years patrons have enjoyed Cheryl and Andres Bedini’s coffee shop, where beans are roasted fresh every day. While tucking into copies of local newspapers and The New York Times, customers would often be treated to the debates of die-hard patrons loudly discussing the news of the world and the Village of Sag Harbor while sucking down their third or fourth cup of coffee.

However, after January 31, Java Nation customers will no longer be able to enjoy their coffee while sitting on one of the café’s stools or in its iconic window seat. On Tuesday, Andres confirmed that while he was in negotiation to renew his lease on the space, property owner Bruce Slovin informed him that Tisha Collette, of Collette Designer Consignment, was given a lease for the space.

Bedini said he was told Collette would help create “a new upscale environment,” and had agreed to fund an extensive renovation and pay more in terms of rent.

Bedini was told he would need to leave as his lease expires on February 1. He said he is committed to reopening Java Nation in Sag Harbor, and hopes to find his new location on Main Street before his lease is up in order to have a seamless transition.

“I don’t want to close for even a day,” said Bedini on Tuesday.

However, he added that he may have to roast his coffee off-site, which means the days of Sag Harbor smelling of roasted beans are likely over.

On Monday, Collette said she plans to renovate the space — “a full gutting,” she said — in February and reopen in March. In addition to an espresso bar, Collette said she will offer a selection of teas, a large assortment of pastries as well as salads and soups created off-site.

The change is one several taking place in Sag Harbor’s business district, which Bedini noted has more shuttered stores than he has seen in 17 years of business in the village.

The building many locals call “Fort Apache,” including the former Cigar Bar, is mostly empty. There are several spaces also available on Route 114, as well as on Madison Street. The Grenning Gallery building on Washington Street is also for sale, and BikeHampton recently lost their Main Street space.

At the end of the summer, the Whalers Cleaners & Tailors closed after being open since 1962. Taken over by Reno Salsedo in 1994, the business has since had a “for rent” sign in the window with a Manhattan number for interested parties.

His brother, Dan Salsedo operated the Ice Cream Club and Vincenzo’s Pizza in the same building, and also shuttered his doors this fall.

On Monday, Salsedo said he closed because the rent was too expensive, and after 14 years of business he was ready to move on.

“I got out while the getting was good,” he said.

Salsedo was fortunate in that he was able to sell the remainder of his lease through local commercial property owner Hal Zwick, who is also the director of commercial real estate for Devlin McNiff.

Zwick said he expected to close on that lease this week, and that as soon as the property became available there was interest.

“There are people looking to do business in Sag Harbor,” said Zwick.

He added that with the recession ending, and commercial real estate too expensive in East Hampton Village, many clients are looking to Sag Harbor or Bridgehampton to set up shop.

Zwick acknowledged that the price of doing business in Sag Harbor is getting more expensive.

“You have a situation where you are dependent on your landlord,” he said. “They are often willing to extend your lease, but the rents are going up and that is something local businesses will have to watch. It is supply and demand. I got 50 calls for Danny’s place when it closed.”

Zwick said he does not see Sag Harbor Village morphing into another East Hampton Village.

“I don’t think we will find a Tiffany’s here, but we will see some of the smaller downtown shops from Manhattan coming to Sag Harbor when they want to open a shop in the Hamptons,” he said.

On Wednesday, Save Sag Harbor board member Jane Young said the organization was convening a meeting after the holidays to discuss the changes happening in downtown Sag Harbor.

“We are aware of what is going on and are brainstorming, but this is a complex problem,” she said.

For a local businessman like Salsedo, the writing is already on the wall.

“Without a doubt, Sag Harbor is changing and it’s inevitable,” he said. “I think eventually it will be just like East Hampton.”

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24 Responses to “The Changing Face of Main Street, Sag Harbor”

  1. Ellen Dioguard says:

    While I will miss Java Nation I think I’m probably in a pretty large group who won’t miss the roasting coffee smell (always brought to mind a burning building) or the odd “dust” that settled over things from the roasting. However, the fear that Sag Harbor is headed in the direction of Southampton AND East Hampton in terms of pop up shops, luxe shops that offer very little if anything to “locals” and in general a Main street that is busy for 3 months out of the year. My mom always said “when you can’t find a spool of thread on Main Street the village is doomed” it was her simplistic way of saying “once you can’t get a little bit of every thing …” and she was right about East Hampton. I hope the landlords on Main Street in Sag Harbor are more interested in long term gains instead of short term goals…

  2. I’m with Ellen on this one. Anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant business equates the smell permeating Main St. with the bottom of a burning Silex coffee pot. How anyone could find that malodorous emanation pleasing to the olfactory senses, is beyond me? Oh Well, to each his own!

    That being said, and although I was never a patron of Java Nation, I feel sorry for the Bedinis. Perhaps they can find another retail space in the village, but given the trend of Sag Harbor, they would most likely have to charge six dollars for a cup of coffee to cover the rent. My stomach really turned, when I read that the landlord wanted to create a “More Upscale Environment!” Think Manhattan East!

    It’s all about the money. That never changes. Wealthy people from out of town who have no ties to the village or it’s heritage. With the exception of the few remaining businesses on Main St.that are run by local people who own the property, the Sag Harbor of the past is on it’s death bed. Yes, perhaps I am living in the past, and I realize that small towns across America have suffered the same fate. Still, as someone who can trace my roots in Sag Harbor back to the sixteen hundreds, it breaks my heart to see what Sag Harbor has become. Nothing but real estate offices, “upscale boutiques” trinket and curio shops, art galleries, and other various enterprises patronized by people with six figure incomes.If people only knew what it was like to grow up in Sag Harbor before 1960, they would understand that the town has not changed for the better.

    There are few of us old families left anymore. I recently retired, and I too will be selling my house, (built in 1830) that has been in my family for almost one hundred years. People of my means can no longer afford the constant taxes increases fueled by an ever growing avaricious school system.

    Sorry if I sound bitter.I am sure all the wealthy people who have gentrified Sag Harbor will not miss my great lament, nor my puling about what used to be. They will continue to think of Sag Harbor as the beautiful quaint little village it is today, because they have no basis for comparison. Fortunately or unfortunately,depending on your perspective,I do! As all older people, I have my memories, and they will sustain me in the autumn of my life. Sometimes in the summer, when visitors and passersby see me working in my yard, they will stop to chat. They always remark on what a beautiful little village it is. My response is always the same. “You should have seen it 60 years ago!”

    Hope you have enjoyed my rant, but if not, remember that opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has one!

  3. stephen grossman says:

    i love the smell of roasting coffee..regardless, java nation is a local treasure and look forward to them remaining..who needs an upscale environment..upscale environments are the reason we may no longer be the “unhampton”..ugh

  4. rita skerys says:

    Roasting coffee aside, I can’t believe someone is allowed to come along and try to put the people who have run Java Nation for 17 years out of business; and open their own “espresso bar”? It’s almost criminal. Shame on the landlord and Collette’s.

  5. Jon Robin Baitz says:

    Sag Harbor is a kind of perfection.
    Or it was.

    It exemplified the decency of a commercial center that had a human scale, and a kind of sweetness, a gentleness that is absent anywhere else out here.

    But I think that landlords will always be landlords and greedy ones will always betray the future for a quickish buck. Trisha Collette probably will shrug off the amorality of secret deals with her greedy landlord until someone does the same thing to her. And guess what: Trish – it will happen to you too. Until it does, and you wonder how this could have happened to YOU– You’ll have to look yourself in the mirror, which should be fun. (ish). But then again, for most people, decency is considered a luxury. Ever was it thus.
    For most of us who are helplessly watching the changes to a beloved and impossibly beautiful, achingly lovely village, our hearts get broken bit by bit, as the money lenders keep setting up newer and uglier shops in the temple.
    In the meantime, the only choice I have is to ignore your bitter espresso, and hope that the wheel of karma turns inexorably towards you, Ms Collette.

    We are losing that which makes us special.

  6. Mark Jenkins says:

    Ellen, this – “However, the fear that Sag Harbor is headed in the direction of Southampton AND East Hampton in terms of pop up shops, luxe shops that offer very little if anything to “locals” and in general a Main street that is busy for 3 months out of the year.” – is not a sentence.” Hope you didn’t graduate from Pierson High School.

    I remember when the original building that was in the space of the “Shopping Cove” burnt to the ground. I was barely a teenager and lamented that our little town was burning down. For me, that was the beginning of all the major changes that were to come to Sag Harbor, few of them good.

    I think that Sag Harbor has been going down hill for many years. Locals have been driven out for a long time now. Like Jim said it’s all about the money. One of the things that bothers me the most is when people consider Sag Harbor part of “The Hamptons.” I never liked that moniker for the towns that actually have the word ‘Hampton’ in their name, let alone for a place like Sag Harbor. But, change is inevitable and Sag Harbor has faced changes in the past and will face changes in the future like every thing and every one in the universe.

    Finally, although I am not a coffee drinker, the permeating smell that emanates from Java Nation has never bothered me. In fact, I think the smell is pleasing.

  7. Nancy Mulvihill says:

    Jim, I remember what it used to be like to and every time we lose another building facade or a trendy boutique takes over a longstanding business my heart breaks a little bit.

  8. Patricia Sweeney says:

    “More upscale environment?” Are you kidding me? Who gives a rat’s ass? One of the great things about Java Nation is that it is the exact opposite – a complete rest from the bull of that very idea. Just some of the great things about Java: wonderful coffee, good people (and those include many celebrities also taking a break from “upscale”), kindness to all (like every group in Sag goes there from seniors to workers heading out for their day, to teens and young children and dogs), a place you can relax where no one hassles you ever, reasonable prices, AND the charm of meeting and greeting your fellow villagers. This place, like it or not, is an important part of the community. That’s reality. The village and Slovin should be finding a way to subsidize them, not kick them out! I hope Cheryl and Andres and their great girls have the last laugh on this one.

  9. heatherdune says:

    I for one will cease shopping at Collette’s and boycott the whole alley from now on. We stood by Java Nation when Starbucks threatened to come to town and informed SB that no one in Sag Harbor would ever cross the threshold because we supported our local businesses and our local people, so Starbucks decided to open up in Bridgehampton.

    I cannot believe that the entire town is not fighting this. The last thing Sag Harbor needs is more upscale clothing. Where are locals too meet? Where with David Slater and the morning artists get together? We no longer have the diner. We no longer have the deli. The only thing that makes Sag Harbor special is that it IS different, or maybe it simply was different. Soon we won’t even recognize neighbors on the street because no one we knows either lives or works in there anymore, and that will be a sad day indeed. I suggest a revolt, like Wall Street. Take back Sag Harbor! Keep Java Nation alive and well and where it has been longer than any other shop in the alley.

  10. Kathleen Shannon says:

    Sag Harbor has become a haven for people who live and work in upscale environments that they can’t wait to leave each weekend to come out here.

    We all have sadly watched as a few of them then use their money and blind narrowness to speculate and remake Sag Harbor into what they just left behind.

    Before he passed away, Ned Parkhouse said the newer folks in Sag Harbor were “very well off, very sweet, very polite, but rather dim.” He lamented the days when Sag Harbor pulled people who, either wealthy or struggling, were interesting, engaging and delighted with the way Sag Harbor already was, not how it could be.

    It’s one thing to restore or renovate a historic building, add a new idea or set up a new shop, everyone needs to make a living. It’s another thing entirely, to suck the uniqueness out of the environment without regard to the final impact. The people who seem to be remaking Sag Harbor only have financial skin in the game. Sag Harbor is not their community, it is their investment.

    If you want to know how this will end, take a ride up island to any one of the waterfront towns west of the twin forks, it’s rarely pretty or user friendly. There are always empty storefronts, always too many fly by night boutiques and food shops and there is always violent crime. Rarely is there a strong sense of community.

    When I moved here 25 years ago, the most attractive aspect of Sag Harbor was that it was a safe and very diverse community; culturally, racially, economically. It was also quite a mix of characters, regular folks and unusual individuals. A real community, warts and all, where you actually knew the people who lived next door for better or worse, and accepted them as neighbors and often, friends.

    How many of these more desirable upscale shoppers are going to be volunteer Firefighters, EMTs, and all the other services that a community needs? If you think taxes are high now, wait til you have to pay for all the services that the expendable locals do for free.

    Collette will find out soon enough…what goes around comes around…

    I guess the new and upcoming 1% like the idea of gentrification in Sag Harbor; no unknowns, no adventures, no unusual people… very boring.

  11. Saul F. says:

    The “upscaling” of Sag Harbor is a destructive travesty that will erase the only village left in the Hamptons with any character beyond expensive stores and ludicrous restaurants. The world is not a plaything for the super-rich to parachute into nor should the complex mosaic of bohemians, artists, workers, locals, damaged souls and on always be unraveled. A wealth flattened world is a boring soulless place.

  12. Elementary School Parent #1 says:

    All I know is when I was in East Hampton the other day several spaces can’t seem to find a tenant. It looks horrible and depressing.
    These are spaces that had been mom and pop shops for 20-30-40 years but were forced out because some real estate brokers went around telling landlords they could get them double or triple the rent. I hope the owners of Sag Harbor store fronts are not headed down the same path.

  13. Pat Ramsey says:

    This is a travesty, as the number of comments show. Save Java Nation. And vow to never frequent Collette’s espresso bar. We don’t need upscale (read higher prices to line the landlord’s pocket.)

  14. Nikki says:

    Being a loyal Customer to both Collette Consignment and Java Nation for years and years I must say it is sad to see any local business go but at the same time good to see another local business go in its place rather then a business from Manhattan, which I happen to know had the lease way before Collette’s Husband did. Lets not forget that TISHA Collette is also a local business owner herself who’s stores have been open and serving majority of Southampton, Sag Harbor, and East Hampton for 10 to 15 years now. She not only lives in Sag Harbor, but her children attend our schools, and her husband is a volunteer Fireman at our very own Sag Harbor Fire Department. In fact, she is the one who replaced the unsturdy and rusted chairs that were once outside the coffee shop that we all sit in everyday. I understand everyones concern by the use of the word “Upscale” but all that means to me is a cleaner, more friendly environment and I truely believe that everyone is taking the word way out of context. Lets not blame a local business owner for taking over an inevitable empty space. Lets not forget that Java Nation, for no ones business besides its owners and landlord, is being evicted for reasons they very well know of and regardless of who comes in next, being Collette’s Husband or a shop from Manhattan, the space is/was open for rent. Reading this blog has forced me to think differently about Sag Harbor in general.. bashing local businesses, threatening others, and trash-talking was never a tradition I was brought up on living out here..I wish the best of luck to both Businesses as well as their owners.

  15. Arnold Timer says:

    Nikki,

    Please explain your comments regarding Collette’s Husband. Is Collette’s Husband the entity that is the new lease holder? Are you trying to diminish Tisha Collette’s role in the business alluding that it’s actually her husband’s?

    You also state that the Bedinis are being evicted (not true, their lease wasn’t renewed). If you want to insinuate they are being evicted, and hide behind the anonymity of this blog, then you are guilty of the trash talking, etc. you accuse others of at the end of your comment. I find it hard to believe you support local businesses that have been evicted. Yours is an illogical, wrong headed post that needs clarification to be taken seriously.

    Please clarify, and post your real name if you choose to make disparaging comments.

  16. Nikki says:

    Arnold,

    Firstly I would like to say that trash talking and stating facts are completely different and before you attack someone, you should always know your facts. You clearly were misinformed. Tisha Collette’s Husband Shane Dyckman is taking over the space where Java Nation is now located. Dont believe me? Think the words I wrote above are “illogical and wrong headed”? Do some actual research instead of just listening to everything you hear while contributing to the trash talking about Tisha Collette and her business or just simply wait and see for yourself. The truth always comes out and when it does- apologies will be accepted.

  17. Mark C says:

    This is bad news, not just for those of us who regularly patronize Java Nation, who enjoy the coffee, the smell of roasting beans, the welcoming space, and Java’s devotion to its product (while happily disregarding the latest wave of precious coffee temples that make getting a good cup of coffee a deeply irritating experience). No, it’s bad news for anyone who cares about the health and future of the Village.

    Quality of life is such a fragile thing. Old buildings and architecture are not enough to make a place feel alive and healthy and pleasant to spend time in. I live in East Hampton, where we’ve seen downtown become a wasteland of high-end retail clothing stores, as sterile as a shopping mall. Like many others I escape several times a week to Sag Harbor where there is still a happy and healthy diversity of small businesses, of life, places to gather, to eat, have coffee, shop for necessities. The Village is both beautiful and has a healthy heartbeat. So pleasant to walk along Main Street! But this well-being is delicate and vulnerable – and the creeping expansion of high end retail clothing stores is starting to do serious damage.

    This latest news is a serious blow. The Village has been losing businesses that added to the rich fabric of Main Street. Kicking out Java Nation, a near-institution, is worse because it deprives us of that all-important semi-public space where regular patrons and tourists can pause in their day, drink coffee, sit down, talk, read the paper. Instead of the lively human space, in some ways the heart of the Village, the Cove will soon feel sterile and empty.

    Its forced closing seems needlessly destructive. Java was a long-time tenant that wished to renew its lease. While we can’t know the details of this deal, it appears the landlord wasn’t satisfied with getting market rent from Java, but jumped at a big offer from Collette, who wanted more space. We do know from the Cove’s recent evolution that this landlord seems to be dedicated to transforming his property into a colony of chain stores, a ‘new upscale environment.’ So it probably fits his plans. Though I submit that we all lose from this, including the landlord and his other tenants, who will lose as diversity is lost, and who will see much less foot traffic..

    Is it too much to expect commercial landlords to not go for the short term gain and be mindful of the effect of his decisions on the quality of life in a community? To think like planners? Yes, obviously. But as they decide our fate in this regard, there’s not much option but to hope that some of them will surprise us.

  18. Shane Dyckman says:

    Hello to all,
    I am sorry to hear all the negative comments. Unfortunately everyone has there facts mixed up. Collette is not opening an upscale espresso bar. In fact Collette has nothing to do with the changing of tenants other than guilty by association(she is my wife).The landlord of the Shopping Cove was in negotiation with a NYC based coffee outfit who sought out the space for his own expansion. I am also sorry to see Java Nation go, however the landlord was determined to find a new tenant . I was fortunate enough to appeal to the landlords better senses and keep the coffee chain from coming to our beloved town. My intentions for the location are to create a warm, low key, inexpensive and clean coffee shop. The anger and hostility is misdirected towards Collette.
    I have lived on the east end my entire life, I am a Sag Harbor volunteer Firefighter, I own and
    operate a summer surf camp for kids, my children attend Sag Harbor schools, my wife and I
    employ over two dozen local residents year round between both our businesses. I am committed to preserving our community. Before all the judgement is passed and all of the negative comments are said, please be open minded, get the facts straight and wait and see for yourselves.
    Best,
    Captian Shane Dyckman.

  19. Arnold Timer says:

    Nikki,

    I meant no offense to you but your first post is rather confusing. Mr. Dyckman’s subsequent comments clarify the situation greatly. I’m still not not sure why you refer to him as “Collette’s Husband” multiple times rather than by his name. You clearly are privy to information not printed in the article, on which I based my comments regarding your post. Why not simply set the record straight regarding who was opening the shop? So yes, “illogical”.

    I still take issue with your use of the term eviction. For whatever reason the landlord chose not to renew the lease, Java Nation was not evicted. The word carries a negative connotation and you seem to be happy to create that impression. I can only surmise you have some sort of issue with Java Nation or simply enjoy seeing others fail. So, “wrongheaded”.

    I wish the best to the Bedinis as well as Mr. Dyckman.

  20. Arnold Timer says:

    Hey Nikki,

    Any comment on this article from the East Hampton Star? http://bit.ly/Aza0gV

    Collette called the police about their roasting??? That’s some community spirit for you…

    Best,

    Arnold

  21. Mark says:

    It seems that Collette & Shane just don’t get it! They have aided in kicking out a long established small business for their own selfish purposes. They (and that greedy landlord) have essentially destroyed a local family’s livelihood so they can personally profit. I for one will not support their new business. Not one dime!

    Folks, if you think things are getting bad in old Sag now, just wait until that lovely bunch from the Bulova condos move in….

  22. jason pollak says:

    this is going to be the best thing that sag harbor has seen since the beginning


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