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.”
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.
“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.