Tag Archive | "David Loewenberg"

Loewenberg Sets Sail in Noyac

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By Emily J. Weitz

There was no urgency about David Loewenberg’s decision to open up a new restaurant, his fifth, in Noyac. It kind of just happened organically. But given his knack for successful restaurant endeavors — including The Beacon in Sag Harbor, redbar and Little Red in Southampton, and Fresno in East Hampton — when Loewenberg opens a new spot, foodies across the region pay attention.

When he and longtime business partner Sam McLelland saw the old Oasis location was open, they worked out a deal with the landlords that worked for everyone. Now the plans for Anchor are underway and the opening date is loosely set for the end of May.

“We have been looking for more of a year round space,” Loewenberg says. “Being a seasonal restaurant, The Beacon has some difficulty sometimes…  We wanted to have a year round space that the The Beacon can lean on.”

The “difficulty” with The Beacon has never been about the popularity, the reviews, or the quality of the food or service. If you’ve ever gone to The Beacon during the high season, you know that it’s quite the contrary. But maintaining the level of familiarity among employees and the commitment among chefs is more difficult when you can’t offer them something to get through the winter.

“A lot of our cooks who have been with us repeatedly, year after year, are starting to want to settle down,” says Loewenberg. “We pride ourselves on the fact that we work with the same people year after year, and now we can offer a couple of key year round positions to help with continuity.”

Of course, Anchor isn’t expected to be anybody’s side show. Nestled in a marina at a bend in Noyac Road, it can be a destination all its own.

“If we’re successful,” says Loewenberg, “it will feel like an old seafood house without being rickety. It will feel clean but not sharp. It will be convenient and comfortable for intimate groups and larger parties.”

He points out that some of his other restaurants don’t cater to larger groups quite so much, as The Beacon doesn’t accept reservations, and the size of the kitchen limits the number of people the restaurant can accommodate. But this place will be ideal for large groups.

“When people think of lobster, they think of tables for ten,” says Loewenberg. “The size of the kitchen will allow for that.” The dining room, which overlooks the boats, “Will be stunning,” says Loewenberg. “My wife Sarah is a designer, and she’s done all the restaurants. This will feel like an old European oyster house.”

Loewenberg met McLelland, executive chef at The Beacon and now at Anchor, when he first moved to the East End 20 years ago.

“We both worked at Nick and Toni’s,” says Loewenberg, “and then when I had 95 School Street [his first restaurant] he was the sous chef… I was the best man at his wedding. We were looking for the right project.”

The project at Anchor is full scale, as they refurbish the dining room and completely renovate the kitchen. But Loewenberg believes these will allow McLelland to shine.

“This kitchen will be one of the largest that Sam has ever worked in,” he says. “As delicious as The Beacon is, we have a lot of limitations because of the size of the space. It’s exciting to know we can grow this way and I think The Beacon will benefit in many ways.”

Loewenberg is quick to note his unfailing affection for the Sag Harbor hotspot.

“I will still, after 14 years, walk up the stairs of The Beacon, and there is nothing like it. To be right on the water like that. I don’t think they will compete with each other. There’s a different energy.”

Some of the favorite dishes from The Beacon will be available out of McLelland’s new kitchen as well.

“You can still count on a great chicken, steak, or pork belly,” Loewenberg says. “The idea is to open serving dinner, and to create a great feel at the bar. Come in and grab something as simple as a dozen oysters or a lobster roll. We’ll have a tap system featuring local beers and vineyards like Channing Daughters and Paumanok.”

After reopening his seasonal restaurants year after year, there’s a familiarity in starting something new, and Loewenberg exudes confidence.

“As happens out here, you can’t always dictate when things happen,” he said. “We have the great support of our family and our staff. This was a very organic move for us.”

Businesses Looking for Smart, Local Hires

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East End businesses have struggled under the weight of a nationwide recession – cutting back on employees and reorganizing their business models to conform to a more frugal clientele, even on the affluent East End of Long Island.

“I don’t think we are at the end of the recession,” said Greg Ferraris, a certified public accountant at Banducci, Katz & Ferraris in Sag Harbor. “I think for most businesses, staffing levels are a key driver in profitability, and management has learned to do more with less.”

That being said, Ferraris did admit to unique businesses on the East End that, due to the seasonal popularity of the region, would increase their staff each spring, regardless of the recession. There are also other companies, he said, looking to hire if they can be assured that new employees will increase revenues. He said that even when cutting back, maintaining a high level of service, despite the tough times, is paramount to survival.

“Service is key,” said Ferraris.

Providing a new kind of service has been part of the magic occurring at Green Logic Energy, a firm that specializes in energy efficient and sustainable technologies like solar panels and geothermal heating and air conditioning and wind turbines.

Founded by Marc Clejan and Nick Albukrek, Green Logic Energy has shown a 200 percent growth in business over the last two years, and as a result is in the midst of hiring 22 new employees to serve their Southampton and Roslyn offices.

“We represent what is basically a whole new industry,” Clejan said on Tuesday. “The whole green sector is a growth industry right now and we are benefiting from that.”

However, Clejan said he believes Green Logic stands out from competitors on Long Island due to its business model, which is one focused on service, not just installation.

“We are an engineering, design, permitting and consulting business,” he said. “We don’t just contract.”

Green Logic informs clients about what technologies will be approved in different municipalities, designs the project, brings it before any necessary boards for permits and completes installation.

“We have never being turned down anywhere on Long Island – by any ARB or zoning board,” Clejan said, adding that Green Logic will not bring a project through a permitting process unless it has a fair chance of being approved.

Clejan also said the staff at Green Logic is ultimately responsible for the company’s growth. According to Albukrek, the quality of candidates that have applied to the firm is outstanding. So far, Green Logic has filled eight of the positions and Albukrek said he hopes to have all 22 slots filled in the next two weeks.

Sag Harbor surveyor F. Michael Hemmer is cautiously looking to add an administrative assistant to his staff, and like Green Logic, said the level of experience candidates have brought to the table has been superior, in some ways beyond what he hoped for.

“We did put ‘entry-level’ in as a qualifier and we are getting responses from people with excellent experience, but there is no way we can bring someone in on that level because we won’t be able to give them the pay they want or deserve,” said Hemmer.

Like Green Logic, Hemmer said his business has muscled through the recession, mostly due to their level of services.

“We appreciate that we are in Sag Harbor, and opening our business here has been a blessing because we seem to really fit in,” he said.

Morrissey Advisory Services, also in Sag Harbor, offers healthcare benefits consulting and brokerage services across Long Island, but executive officer Tom Morrissey said a key to his business is hiring locally.

Morrissey, whose wife and business partner Susan is a Sag Harbor native, said the firm has just hired Heather Whelan, a local in her early 20s, and would like to continue the trend.

“People like to do business locally and we do intend to hire more smart, young people like her – people who know how businesses operate out here,” said Morrissey.

Ray Smith and Associates, the Southampton-based landscape design, tree care, property maintenance and irrigation specialists, have also found themselves growing despite the recession by expanding the services they offer, according to marketing director Howard Goldenberg.

The 14-year-old business recently acquired Dave Greene’s 20-year old property management business, with Greene joining the team at Ray Smith and Associates. Expanding into areas like irrigation and landscape maintenance was “a natural extension,” said Goldenberg and enabled the company to expand services for its current client base, as well as reach out to a new group of customers.

According to Goldenberg, the company is currently seeking irrigation technicians and pest control applicators and has been searching for more than a month for the right applicants. For the most part, he said, applicants have been qualified in other industries, but have lacked the outdoor or horticultural experience the business is looking for in a new employee.

“They are not just overqualified – they don’t have the background we are looking for,” he said.

Overall, Goldenberg said the company is optimistic about the coming season, despite the recession.

“We are cautiously optimistic, as they say.”

Goldenberg said some optimism stems from their loyal client base, and the level of service the firm aims to provide each customer.

“In some ways, we may be benefiting from companies that are not as good,” he said. “Some are gone – they just couldn’t hold on.”

Restaurateur David Loewenberg agreed that companies that fail to provide high quality products and services are the ones hardest hit on the East End, especially in his industry.

“I think these economic upturns and downturns – they shake the business up,” said Loewenberg. “I think you find it is the same in every industry – the weaker operators will fall by the wayside, and those who are strong, committed and have chosen to make this their profession will make it.”

In addition to continuing with a prix fixe menu at both Red Bar and Fresno, Loewenberg extended the season at his Sag Harbor restaurant, Beacon, into the fall due to the lagging economy, in an effort to boost revenue, but also to keep his employees working.

Loewenberg said his businesses are always looking for front of the house employees at the start of the season, and his employees, many like family, tend to remain in the fold for years.

“We have a very loyal staff and we are loyal to them,” he said. “We are lucky.”

Fine Dining Born Out of East End Traditions

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Michael Rozzi grew up on Shinnecock Bay and as a boy embraced the East End traditions of fishing, hunting and enjoying the bounty of produce cultivated on East End farms – local traditions that have taken root on both the North and South Forks as the “slow food” movement has grown in popularity.

“Growing up out here we have been living by slow food ways long before it became popular,” Rozzi said during an interview at Della Femina, the East Hampton restaurant where he serves as executive chef. “We grew up eating at farm stands, we fished, we hunted. This is what Hamptons food has always been about, going back to the Bonackers – it’s what people have been doing here for centuries.”

Many local families enjoy venison late into winter following the close of deer hunting season in late January. Because of federal regulations, though, restaurants are prohibited from serving locally hunted venison. Chefs at restaurants like Della Femina, The American Hotel in Sag Harbor, Fresno in East Hampton and its sister restaurant Red Bar in Southampton still follow the tradition and feature venison in winter on seasonal menus.

Venison, a lean, tender game that is hunted locally, has history in the End End culinary tradition. Once the venison is butchered, preparations are numerous and often simple, depending on the cut. Venison stew or chili, barbeque, sausage and grilled or roasted steaks and chops are the most common preparations.

Most restaurants serve free-range venison, said Rozzi, often grass or hay-fed, and devoid of steroids or growth hormones. Rozzi said the use of grass or hay, rather than feed or corn, lends itself to flavors more likely to mirror wild venison.

“You are what you ate,” he said.

Venison, tender and flavorful when prepared correctly, is low in fat and rich in iron and high in B-vitamins and zinc. A three-and-a-half ounce portion of venison has only a fifth of the fat as a similar portion of beef, Rozzi said, making it an ideal protein for those craving a hearty winter stew or Bolognese, but also looking for a red-meat substitute.

Both Rozzi and David Loewenberg, the co-owner of Sag Harbor’s Beacon, East Hampton’s Fresno and Southampton’s Red Bar, said they prefer to serve venison loin chops, roasted or grilled.

“From a selling standpoint, I think the chop is a very pretty presentation,” said Rozzi, adding that the chop is less demanding to prepare. For tougher cuts, he suggested braising or stewing the meat.

The key, he added, was using an acidic element, like wine to help tenderize the meat.

“You start with something hard to work with and end up with something really beautiful at the end of the day,” said Rozzi.

Loewenberg stressed the key to cooking venison was to understand each cut of meat. While chops tend to be pan roasted or seared, the tougher cuts, he agreed, are best served after a slow braise.

Braising is cooking tough meat, like venison rump, in a small amount of liquid – usually wine – over low heat over several hours until the collagen and fat begin to break down. Loewenberg sears the meat in a Dutch oven after seasoning it with salt and pepper, then adds aromatics like carrots, onions and garlic and any additional ingredients that add flavor as the venison cooks for two to three hours.

The technique keeps the meat moist when served as a stew or over accompaniments like polenta or potatoes with the braising liquid spooned over as is or enhanced by the addition of rich beef stock.

“There is a richness to venison that is wonderful,” said Loewenberg.”

Loewenberg said he likes to top quickly seared loin chops with a simple, light sauce, often using berries and a demi-glace bordelaise. Creating a trio of dishes of locally inspired game is another popular presentation, he added, with condiments suited to the season – parsnip purees, chestnuts – flavors that highlight an autumnal flavor of venison. Rozzi also adorns his venison chop with Halsey farm apples and crisp, almost sweet, Brussels sprout leaves aimed to compliment the parsnip puree.

“What grows together, goes together,” Rozzi said.

Michael Rozzi’s Venison Bolognese

Serves eight to 10

Heat ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan. Add 1 medium onion, fine dice, 1 medium carrot, fine dice; 1 medium celery rib, fine dice; 2 ounces Pancetta, fine dice; 2 large garlic cloves, chopped; Cook until soft. Remove from saucepan into bowl. Add 2 pounds venison to the same saucepan, brown. Add ¾ cup white wine and put cooked vegetables back in the saucepan. Add 30 ounces tomato sauce, ½ teaspoon thyme, 1 bay leaf and simmer for 40 minutes on low heat. Add ¼ cup heavy cream, season with salt and pepper to taste and toss with two pounds of fresh, cooked penne rigate. Top with grated Parmesan.