As a restaurateur with more than 20 years of hands-on and management experience, Donald Sullivan—owner of the Southampton Publick House and Southampton Bottling Company—is certainly well versed in how to create a successful business.
This year, Southampton Bottling entered into a strategic agreement with the Pabst Brewing Co. to market and distribute its award-winning line of craft-brewed ales and lagers. Mr. Sullivan’s company is now selling almost 90,000 cases of Southampton Double White Ale and other top sellers in more than 20 states across the county. On the home front, the Southampton Publick House, now in its 12th year of business with Mr. Sullivan at the helm, is a vital part of the local community and a popular watering hole and restaurant among a loyal, year-round clientele.
Mr. Sullivan, who grew up in Floral Park and has a master’s degree in hospitality management from the New School, knows the importance of offering customers mouthwatering food and beverages and providing stellar service. But he also knows the importance of a creating an inviting environment that makes customers want to come back time and again.
“Think about it … sometimes you go into a restaurant and if you’re not in the main bar or dining room, you feel like you’re off in left field, like you’re on the outside looking in. So it’s very important that every room have its own identity and fun focal point,” he explained. “It’s also important to have outside spaces and rooms that easily flow into each other to avoid bottlenecks and traffic congestion.”
Mr. Sullivan adhered to that design strategy when he and his wife, Maggie, set out to build their own 3,000-square-foot home on Rampasture Point in Hampton Bays.
Just a few weeks ago, the Sullivan family—which includes 13-year-old Jack, 11-year-old Claire, a hermit crab and a 16-year-old yellow Lab named Casey—moved into their new home, which is one house away from the water and has views of Ponquogue Bridge, Shinnecock Bay and Smith Creek.
The traditional Shingle-style four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath house was designed by Donald Denis of Ashley McGraw Architects in Aquebogue and built by J. Andreassi of Pert Construction in Water Mill.
“We told the architect that there were several things that were really important to us. First, we wanted a house that felt like it had been here for a long time. We didn’t want it to look like new construction. We also wanted each room to have its own character and have a good flow for entertaining since Donald and I both come from big families,” explained Ms. Sullivan. “And we really wanted to capitalize on any views we could get of the water.”
“Our architect had previously built a beautiful waterfront home on Rampasture Point for my parents, Kathleen and Joseph Geoghan. When we found this vacant piece of property three years ago, we knew we wanted to work with him,” said Ms. Sullivan, who was raised in Queens and Connecticut and began summering in the Rampasture area in the 1960s when her grandmother purchased a vacation home there.
Working closely with Mr. Denis, the couple designed the house with daytime living spaces on the east side of the house to maximize bay and creek views. Upon entering the two-story home, the space flows laterally, with the living room flowing into the dining room which flows into an open kitchen and family room.
Giving a tour of their new home, the Sullivans pointed out the various “focal points” that make each room unique.
“In the living room, for example, it’s this brick fireplace, which has an oak mantle and architecturally interesting panels that go up to the ceiling,” Ms. Sullivan said. “In the dining room, it’s the unique window design and the ceiling that combines white bead-boarding with dark beams. And in the kitchen/family room, it’s the open space, extra long Andersen windows and a beautiful kitchen design.”
Mr. Sullivan explained how outdoor spaces were carefully integrated into the layout so that friends and family could move in and out of the house freely. Two French doors in the dining room lead to a spacious screened porch, and another door between the kitchen and family room leads to small waterview terrace.
To avoid that “new construction” look, the couple stained all trim, molding, ceiling beams and wide-planked oak floors a dark walnut color. The downstairs was primarily painted a neutral Shaker beige color, with sage green chosen for the family room. The couple thinks the architectural design of the front staircase in particular, with its landing and captain’s window, lends an old-fashioned feel to the new space.
The spacious kitchen also has a warm ambiance, thanks in part to the dove white color of the oak cabinets, which were lightly glazed with a light tan color. The chocolate brown subway tile backsplash and African beach granite counters add to the room’s charm.
“We did install stainless appliances and used satin nickel draw pulls and finishes to give the space a slight modern punch,” noted Ms. Sullivan, an avid cook who is already making good use of her Sub-Zero refrigerator, two ovens, and six-burner Thermador stove with warming racks.
“I also love my home office by the front entrance. It has southern-facing windows, which let the sunlight flood in,” said Ms. Sullivan, an executive vice president of the New Jersey-based Applied Research Corporation. Her full-time job involves the assessment, coaching and leadership development of executives at Fortune 500 companies and affords her the freedom to work several days a week from home.
“While we were building the house, we lived only a few blocks away, so I had the flexibility to check in as it was being built, which was great,” she said.
“From the architect to the builder to all the suppliers, Margaret and I chose all local sources. We think it’s important to support local businesses. You build a relationship with them and they become a part of your life,” explained Mr. Sullivan, who is a trustee of the Parrish Art Museum and chair of its Business Council.
A board member of the Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau and New York State Brewers Association, Mr. Sullivan is also a longtime member of Southampton Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce and other local civic organizations. As a business owner and longtime resident, he believes in the importance of being a “good neighbor.”
While the Sullivans are still in the process of furnishing their new home, they have already decorated most rooms with furniture and accessories found at auctions and estate sales benefiting local charities. The buttercream cotton twill sectional sofa in the family room, for example, was purchased at the Have-a-Heart Community Trust silent auction three years ago (and kept in storage until now).
“We bought the map table in the family room at Parrish Presents last year. We keep all our remotes and blankets in it, so we can cozy up on the couch at night,” said Ms. Sullivan, also pointing out a nearby buffet table, which stores audiovisual equipment and was purchased at a Fresh Air Home estate sale.
“We found this collection of pewter pitchers on the kitchen counter at the Despatch Moving & Storage annual garage sale,” she laughed. “And the marble statue on the fireplace mantel … that we found at a Rotary auction.”
Family treasures are also woven into the design mix. The circa-1910 beveled glass and walnut china cabinet (with matching buffet) in the dining room once belonged to Ms. Sullivan’s grandmother and now holds a sparkling collection of Waterford and Tiffany crystal pieces.
The couple is also fond of an old 1930s bar, made of Mexican pine, which they placed in the mudroom off the kitchen.
“I found it in Greenwich Village about 20 years ago. I think it was used as a hostess/reception desk at a restaurant. Now we use it to store cookbooks, wine, gloves and keys. It’s a durable piece and takes a beating but still looks good,” said Mr. Sullivan.
As for their favorite rooms in the new house, the couple has differing opinions.
“I love the family room and kitchen. It’s the heart of the house, a place where I can gather my family around me. I can cook while the kids sit at the kitchen counter doing homework or watch TV in the family room,” she said.
“We’re just settling in, but I think I’ll enjoy sitting in the living room by the fireplace or relaxing on the screened porch when the weather is nice,” he said. “The restaurant is such a manic environment, and the older I get, I find that I need that 20 minutes a day to read the mail, light a cigar and just decompress.”
Since smoking isn’t allowed in the house, Ms. Sullivan joked that her husband will be spending time out on the room-size deck they built off their upstairs master bedroom. The deck, which Ms. Sullivan has christened “Little Havana,” has northern-facing views of Smith Creek and the abutting wetlands.
“We want to grow old here,” she said. “To have finished building a new house in one of the worst real estate markets the Hamptons has ever seen … we feel very lucky to be here.”