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Sag Harbor Citarella and Bobby Flay Rumors Kiboshed

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Espresso's on Division Street in Sag Harbor Wednesday.

Espresso’s on Division Street in Sag Harbor Wednesday. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

By Tessa Raebeck

Despite rampant rumors to the contrary, Bobby Flay will not be opening a restaurant in Sag Harbor.

The New York Post’s Jennifer Gould Keil reported on December 29 that the celebrity chef had been in talks to take over the space currently occupied by Espresso’s at 184 Division Street. Flay tweeted that he would not take over the space and this Wednesday confirmed the story is false.

“The reports that I’m opening a restaurant in Sag Harbor are completely fabricated and not true,” Flay wrote in an email to the Express. “I have no idea where the assumed space in Sag Harbor is. I’ve never stepped foot in the space nor have I ever spoken to the owners.”

“Sag Harbor,” he added, “is one of my favorite places to visit in the Hamptons but I will only be dining in other people’s restaurants, not opening my own.”

A staple in Sag Harbor since 1993, Espresso Italian Market and Grill, or Espresso’s, as it’s commonly referred to, has reportedly been sold by owners Corrado Paini and Richie Camacho, but the building’s new occupants are yet unknown. Paini and Camacho bought the established store from Robin and Luigi Tagliasacchi in 2005.

Calls to Espresso were not returned as of press time.

The reaction to news that Espresso’s would stop serving its famed focaccia, and the like, after 20 years had a ripple effect throughout Sag Harbor, many residents lamenting the changes they have seen in the two-and-a-half square mile village.

“I spent many days after school hanging with friends at Espresso’s,” said Ryan Skinner, a Sag Harbor resident who graduated from Pierson High School in 2004. “It was the Pierson hangout spot, I have some fond memories there.”

“Espresso’s is a treasure,” Judi and Howard Roth wrote Monday in a letter to The Sag Harbor Express. “We hope, hope, hope that they will find someplace else to open or that they manage to renegotiate and stay just where they are.”

The Bridgehampton Citarella store Wednesday afternoon. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

The Citarella store in Bridgehampton Wednesday afternoon. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

In the same column in the Post, Keil also reported Citarella, a Manhattan-based gourmet market with local shops in East Hampton and Bridgehampton, was planning to open a Sag Harbor store. Rumors quickly circulated around town that Citarella would be leaving its East Hampton location and taking over the Schiavoni’s Market space on Main Street, which the Schiavoni family has owned and operated out of since 1941.

The owners of Citarella and Schiavoni’s Market confirmed these rumors are also unfounded.

“We are not opening in Sag Harbor,” said Citarella owner Joe Gurrera Wednesday. “Rumors start, no idea where, but we are not opening in Sag Harbor.”

Gurrera confirmed Citarella is not leaving its East Hampton location, as some had speculated, but will in fact open another store on Hampton Road in Southampton this spring.

Schiavoni's Market in Sag Harbor on Wednesday afternoon.

Customers order from the deli at Schiavoni’s Market in Sag Harbor Wednesday afternoon. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

“We’re staying,” Schiavoni’s Market owner Mike Schiavoni said Tuesday. “I have sons involved, everybody’s fourth generation, so no.”

Schiavoni reiterated Schiavoni’s Market is a multi-generational market and he plans to keep it that.

Matt Schiavoni, who shares a great grandfather with Mike, manages the store with his wife, Judy. He said Tuesday there is “no truth” to rumors the family market is leaving Sag Harbor.

Mike is committed to “continuing generational activity at the store” and keeping the market — and the building, which his mother and aunt own — in the family, he said Wednesday.

East End Digest: February 26, 2009

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Bridgehampton
Citarella to Open

The former location of the IGA in Bridgehampton will be opening under the name Citarella come April 2009. Citarella considers itself the “ultimate gourmet market.”
Clare Vail, a Southampton Town Planner said that applicant and property owner, Joe Gurrera, submitted an application of expedited review, “a speedy request,” on February 5, 2009.
The planning department held a favorable view and asked the applicant to submit the application on expedited review because there were only going to be minor changes to the building. The application was approved on February 12.
“The applicant wants to spruce up the building, and move the entrance way,” Vail said.
The entrance to the building will be moved to the north east side, from its original location on the west side facing the parking lot, according to the application.
Vail said the applicant wanted to add outdoor seating and improve the parking area – but that would need to undergo a full site plan review at a later date.

Sag Harbor
Library Moves on Building Plans

The John Jermain Memorial Library Board of Trustees continue to work with Newman Architects to develop a library plan that will, in the words of the architects, “serve the Sag Harbor community’s library needs.” During the past weeks a number of firms working in conjunction with Newman have visited both John Jermain and the library’s property at 425 Main Street near Mashashimuet Park.
Philip Steiner, principal from Altieri Sebor and Weber structural engineers, spent January 27 at the library reviewing the mechanical systems, the exterior of the building, and the roof. On February 5, two preservationists, John Glavin and Michele Boyd, from Building Conservation Associates spent 10 hours with the director of the library, Catherine Creedon, touring the building and reviewing the history of John Jermain including photographs, newspapers clippings, blueprints and board reports. It was the third site visit from this firm, headed by Ray Pepi.
On February 13, Deborah McGuinness and Ed Meade, structural engineers for Robert Silman Associates spent the day in Sag Harbor, evaluating both sites with an emphasis on examining the roof, the exterior envelope, the brick wall, existing blueprints, and documentary evidence related to repairs, additions and renovations.
New York State has also proposed an 18% cut in funding to libraries for 2009.

Southampton Town
Interviews for Board Candidates

Southampton Town board members have decided to open an interview process for vacant and holdover positions.
The appointees who serve on the three boards have salaried positions over a specific term of office consistent with state law. Their decision-making powers are exercised by a majority vote of the membership to approve certain types of land use applications.
The Planning Board processes applications for subdivisions, site plans, special exception use permits, lot line modifications, and also renders advisory reports to the Town Board on amendments to the zoning code or requests for changes to the zoning map. The Zoning Board deliberates on requests for variances from zoning strictures on dimensional requirements, changes of use, abandonment proceedings, and appeals of denials or approvals rendered by the Town’s Building Inspector. The Conservation Board processes applications for construction near regulated wetlands areas and prepares advisory reports to the Planning Board and Zoning Board.
Candidates seeking to be considered should send a letter of interest to Supervisor Linda Kabot and members of the Town Board at Southampton Town Hall, 116 Hampton Road, Southampton, NY 11968 prior to February 27.

New York State Assembly
No to Cap

Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr., the ranking republican on the Assembly Education Committee, blasted Governor Paterson’s proposal to cap state property tax payments to areas to school districts for state owned lands pursuant to existing state law. Under the Governor’s plan, payments to such areas would be permanently frozen.
The State of New York currently makes property tax payments to certain school districts for state lands. In Riverhead, including Southampton and Brookhaven, the payments are related to the Central Pine Barrens Preserve. Riverhead receives payments for all state alnds within the school district within the Town of Riverhead.
In 2007, Suffolk school district received around $20 million in such payments. A freeze in 2009 will cost these schools nearly $1 million. The freeze would be permanent and apply to all future years.
“There is no doubt that the costs diverted from communities hit by this tax freeze will be borne by local property taxpayers,” Thiele said. “This proposal assumes that school districts will decrease their spending. But the reality is that many districts are struggling in this tough economy.”
“It is the height of fiscal irresponsibility for state government to try and balance its budget on the backs of property owners. If the Governor truly wants to do the right thing for New Yorkers, he would support the swift passge of our ‘New York State Property Act.’ which would put the brakes on ever increasing property taxes and allow families and local eployers to stay in their communities,” Thiele continued.
Thiele said the legislation would prevent school district property tax levies from increasing by more than four percent each year or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. It would also provide voters with the ability to override this limitation by a two-thirds majority vote. The initiative also provides significant unfunded mandate relief for school districts.
In other news, Thiele also introduced a comprehensive “home rule” plan to address the issue of school consolidation in the State of New York.
Thiele stated, “Exisitng state law inhibits the consideration of school consolidations. Many times school consolidation is derailed by special interests without even allowing the voters to be heard on the issue. In contrast, the Suozzi Commission has proposed a school consolidation procedure which would be imposed by the state with no local referendum. To be successful, we must first have an objective investigation of each potential consolidation in the state. Second, we must permit local voters the opportunity to evaluate these objectiv investigations and make the decision by referendum.”
Thieles bill includes several provisions. It would require the State Education Department (SED) to identify school districts that might benefit from consolidation. The study would include districts with 1,000 or fewer students and school districts that either share a common boundary with such a district, or school districts that have an existing contract with such a district to educate its students.

Suffolk County
Veterans

Last week, the Suffolk County United Veterans Project and other local veterans organizations held a press conference to highlight the impact of Governor Paterson’s proposed budget cuts on homeless veterans in Suffolk County.
County Legislator Kate Browning joined the veterans organizations and spoke out against deep cuts to many of New York’s homelessness prevention and assistance programs. She endorsed the Fair Share Tax Reform as an alternative budget solution that can ensure vulnerable veterans continue to get the care they need.
The press conference was part of an ongoing compaign by the Long Island Fair Share Tax Reform Coalition to advocate for a fair budget solution.