Nichol’s of East Hampton, a restaurant that visitors and locals have frequented for about three decades, closed last week.
The landlords have started to address a number of building issues and code violations. Due to structural defects in the floor in the kitchen and code enforcement violations with the outdoor seating, Nichol’s was in danger of losing its outdoor dining, according to property owner James Fischer.
Mr. Fischer, whose family owns the land and building at 100 Montauk Highway, west of Cove Hollow Road, said the building won’t be closed permanently as a restaurant—but whether it will be reopened as Nichol’s or another restaurant is unclear. “We’re trying to figure out which way we’re going to go with it,” he said.
The restaurant had a previous life as The Quiet Clam, owned and managed by Mr. Fischer’s father, Ira Fischer, from 1977 to 1998.
In 1999, Simon Smith and Janet Palmer, known collectively as Simon and Janet, took over the restaurant business and named it after Nichol’s Lane, a small street off Lily Pond Lane in the village.
Nichol’s has gone through its share of owners. After Simon and Janet, Julie Stone took over in 2010 and ran the restaurant until early 2012.
Ms. Stone, who had been in the advertising business in Manhattan, decided she wanted to go back to her roots in East Hampton, where her parents, Barbara and Richard Stone, live, and do something new that she would be good at. Having grown up in East Hampton, she thought Nichol’s was the perfect fit for her during that time.
“All I did was continue it,” Ms. Stone said in a phone interview last week. “They were the ones who gave it the pub-like feel. It was exactly like Cheers.”
Inside Nichol’s, labeled wine boxes and quirky beer taps decorated the walls, and warm lights decorated the dining area. The staff changed infrequently, and, according to Ms. Stone, everybody knew each other. Quite a few famous customers came in as well, from Paul McCartney to Jimmy Fallon.
“Nichol’s allowed people to come in and hunker down and be loud. It was intimate,” Ms. Stone said. “You could really be yourself. It had a magnetic quality to it. It was fun to see how many people knew each other on any given night when the tables were full. It was one of the only original places.”
Ziggy Attias, who owned Ziggy’s in Bridgehampton for two years before running Nichol’s, took the reins from Ms. Stone in 2012 and operated the restaurant until just last week.
“Locals supported it like crazy,” Mr. Attias said about the restaurant. “When I first took over, we got through it and worked hard to make it a place that everybody could enjoy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it work with the landlords.”
Mr. Attias, who employed about 12 people, had a four-year lease for Nichol’s, but the Fischers ended the lease early after an agreement could not be reached with Mr. Attias on undertaking the renovations. According to Mr. Attias, the Fischers called in building inspectors to help get the building back into acceptable condition, and he offered to do the work. However, he said he would need more time on his lease in order to do it. An agreement could not be reached and Mr. Attias was let out of his current lease.
Mr. Fischer said he will now have to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals to get a permit to continue with the renovations. He said the building will now be given a major overhaul—something it hasn’t had since it was built in the mid 1970s.
He declined to comment on Nichol’s and its long history as a favorite spot, but said he was curious about other types of eateries people would like to see there. He said he’d like to consider keeping the same concept, but would also explore other ideas, because the landlords now “have time to make some changes.”
Mr. Attias and Ms. Stone lamented the demise of the restaurant, which they said they considered a unique place in East Hampton.
“It is kind the end of an era,” Ms. Stone said. “I am kind of without words. It’s a real gem of a place, and there aren’t many gems left out here. I think it’s going to be a loss.”