Southampton Town Heads To Trial Against Owners Of Hampton Bays Diner

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The Southampton Town Board this week hired an attorney to handle the prosecution of town code violations against the owners of the Hampton Bays Diner, a trial that is scheduled to take place in Town Justice Court.

The trial was scheduled to begin on Thursday, July 11, though Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato said it might be postponed.

The town appointed Jeltje deJong, an attorney for Devitt Spellman Barrett, to represent the town at trial. She will be paid up to $3,000.

Ms. deJong was also the town’s special counsel in the trial of a federal lawsuit filed by the owners of the West Montauk Highway diner, Frank and Maria Vlahadamis, against the town and its police department. That suit alleges discrimination and harassment of them and their clientele.

That trial ended in a hung jury, according to Ms. Scarlato. A second trial is scheduled to commence in October. The Vlahadamises are seeking $55 million in damages in the suit, which was initially filed in 2008.

The lawsuit claims that Town Police unfairly targeted the diner, using “Gestapo-like” tactics, after its owners began holding a regular “Hispanic Night” promotion, with food and music aimed at drawing in Latino customers.

The town has issued the diner a violation for changing its use from a restaurant to a nightclub without permission, even though the town issued permits for the addition of a bar area at the rear of the restaurant in 2005.

In 2009, a man was stabbed to death outside the diner after an early morning fight.

The Vlahadamises have owned the diner for more than 30 years.

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