By Kathryn G. Menu
Andres and Cheryl Bedini are longtime owners of the Sag Harbor business, Java Nation. But after 17 years in the same location, the husband and wife business partners now find themselves in transition. Their landlord, Bruce Slovin, has decided not to renew the couple’s lease in the Shopping Cove space.
Shane Dyckman and his wife, Tisha Collette, are also local business owners. Collette owns Collette Designer Consignment, which is next door to Java Nation, and Collette Home Furnishings in Sag Harbor and Southampton. Together, they also run the Flying Point Surf School and the Flying Point Fish Camp.
The two couples have found themselves in the center of what became a firestorm in the community in recent months after Slovin chose not to renew Java Nation’s lease and Dyckman convinced the landlord to allow him to open a new coffee shop in the Java Nation space, rather than give the location to a Manhattan-based business.
When talking to Bedini and Dyckman, both are somewhat battered — Bedini is feeling he was pushed out of a space that was not just a business, but a second home, and Dyckman is reeling from the hostility locals heaved on he and Collette after news of Java Nation’s departure broke. However, both also have the spirit to move on, open their coffee shops — both in Sag Harbor — understanding they are still local businesses that can thrive in a village that has shown it is fiercely protective of its own.
For Bedini, since the news broke about Java Nation’s impending departure from the Shopping Cove, the last six weeks have been a whirlwind. While looking for a new space in Sag Harbor for his coffee shop, Bedini said he has been humbled by the community’s response and willingness to ensure one Sag Harbor business owner will not have to leave.
After weeks of searching, Bedini has confirmed he is close to signing a contract to lease the downstairs space at the Grenning Gallery on Washington Street. Artist and gallery owner Laura Grenning, who declined to comment on this article until everything is finalized, has been a longtime customer of Java Nation, said Bedini, and he is grateful to open a new Java Nation in a space like the Grenning Gallery, which offers a garden area for his patrons. It is also directly across the street from the Bulova Watchcase Factory condominiums, now under construction.
Bedini said that unlike other spaces he has researched in Sag Harbor, at the Grenning Gallery there is ample space to roast Java Nation’s coffee on site. That news will come to both the delight and chagrin of some Sag Harbor residents who are generally divided in how they feel about the smell of caramelizing coffee beans permeating the village most mornings.
Bedini says he hopes to open March 1. Despite his lease being up on January 31 for Java Nation’s home in the Shopping Cove, Bedini and Dyckman confirmed that Java Nation will remain in its original location until March 1.
For Dyckman, the news of his lease at the Java Nation space resulted in hostile criticism by some local community members, who even called for a boycott of his wife’s business in reaction to the news.
In an interview last Thursday, Dyckman explained that Slovin informed him in December Java Nation’s lease would not be renewed and there was a very real possibility a Manhattan-based coffee company would take up the space. So Dyckman looked at the space and developed a proposal for the site, including a full renovation.
The Hampton Bays native, who has a culinary career that began with washing dishes in local restaurants, eventually moved through the ranks into management. He said it was a business opportunity he could not pass up.
“I entered this with absolutely no intentions of running anyone out of town,” he said. “I like Andres and I am a good customer of his. My taking this lease had nothing to do with the Bedinis. It was a deal between Bruce and I and I was not trying to get anyone kicked out of their space. The reality was Bruce was going to put a new tenant in there, bottom line, and the last thing I wanted was to have a high end New York coffee shop in our beloved community.”
Dyckman, a member of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department, said that his new shop — expected to open on April 1 — will be called Sagtown. Sagtown, named after the moniker given to Sag Harbor by local teens, will be a low-key, warm and inexpensive coffee shop, said Dyckman. The business will offer pre-packaged sandwiches, salads and pastries. It will be open from 6 a.m. till midnight, in season, he said, and while hours may diminish in the off-season Dyckman said the shop will be open year-round.
Unlike Bedini, Dyckman will not roast his own coffee, choosing to sell La Columbe coffee instead.
“It is neat what Andres does,” said Dyckman. “He is an expert roaster and puts out an amazing product.”
However, for Dyckman, not trained in roasting coffee, he sought out what he believes is a great coffee brand to represent Sagtown.
“My mother had a hair salon in Southampton and I started out in this community as a dishwasher,” said Dyckman. “I have made my businesses myself and I am excited for the café. I want people to understand that I am not some big city interloper. I am as local as a local business gets.”
In a phone interview two weeks ago, Slovin confirmed that New York City outfits were interested in the space, but said he was not looking to bring outsiders into Sag Harbor.
“The Cove has been a local spot and it should stay that way,” he said. “I am committed to making it as nice a place as possible.”
Bedini said just as he has experienced the gamut of emotions handling Java Nation’s move, so have many of the residents who have come out in support of his business.
“People are mad, people are sad,” he said. “People want to know where and when we are moving.”
Local businesses have also expressed their support, he said. Keith Davis of Golden Pear immediately reached out to Bedini, as did a local architect offering pro bono work should Java Nation need it.
“At least 40 tradesmen have come up to me and offered to help, and not even for free coffee,” said Bedini. “It has been amazing experience, in a way, and I feel very humbled. It says a lot about Sag Harbor.”