Gonna miss Finn McCool's

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gonna miss Finn McCool's

The news from 27East this week was not good...

Finn's In Westhampton Beach Could Close Soon

Kinda suspected that the place might be in trouble when we ate there one evening in early December... Mickey Chih was tending bar and the Shepherd's Pie, always a favorite of mine, was up in price and down in quality.

Uh oh!

After reading of their impending closure, we decided to make a show of support and have dinner there tonight 'cause one never knows about how these things are going to go.

Another discouraging sign was that at 7:05 pm, the place looked dark, but Jeanne assured me that it had been open for business when she'd passed it 20 minutes earlier on her way back from the North Fork... and it was, but the lights illuminating the once controversial ground sign were out, as were the ones in the front doorway.

Uh oh!

But it was all good after that... both the bar and the dining room were doing modest business, and as Dave Willmott used to say each week, "And Why Not?" There were multiple TV sets in the tap room and dining area, as well as individual ones at each of the four booths... and the much-anticipated Knicks-Miami Heat match-up was on!

We started off by splitting a generous bowl of the chef's special five protein (including chicken, chorizo and clams) soup... just delicious, especially when accompanied by a well-chilled chilled pint of Magners cider.

We also split a side of fried onion rings... the best we've had anywhere in memory... hot, crispy and tasty, a refreshing change from the reconstituted mush one too often finds elsewhere.

With Thursdays being two-for-one burgers night, we had a brace of the Cowboy style: oversized bacon cheeseburgers with an in-house Jack Daniels BBQ sauce on extra-thick slices of toasted rye bread.

(Meanwhile, TV screens all over the premises showed the Knicks Jeremy Lin being schooled in NBA defense by a pair of Miami guards few have ever heard of: Mario Chalmers and his back-up, Norris Cole.)

While the game in South Beach was ultimately less than satisfying, the meal far surpassed my fondest expecta­tions... in truth, with a death knell apparently having been struck, I half expected to find the kitchen refrigerators being "cleaned out" and the bar to have not re-upped their Magners and the red wine Jeanne likes.

The one item missing from the menu which my wife had usually ordered since Finn McCool's opened in 2007, was the Reuben Sandwich, and our server Rebecca explained the chef wound up tossing out too much fresh corned beef each week for lack of customer interest. A shame, too, since I agreed with Jeanne that it was a winner!

The young woman also revealed that the plan was for the establishment to remain open through March, so there will be some boisterous Oirish behavior in evidence there three weekends from now... and likely the one following West­hampton Beach Parade Day as well.

A good time, a great meal... and, because of the burger two-fers, out the door with tax and tip for well under $50.

We're definitely going to miss that place if there can't be some sort of accommodation made between now and the end of next month.

In an effort to achieve such an accommodation, the word "Kara's" should be whispered in the landlord's ear.

The landlord wouldn't renew Kara's lease after October 2010... had a new idea for another type of business.


1. Champ19 said...

From my limited understanding of the impending closure of Finn's, it appears the owner of the property is doubling the rent. I can only assume the owner of the property on which Finn's now operates never goes below Montauk Highway or, for that matter, even the North Mall, to see the empty store fronts. Difficult to understand the math involved in forcing a vacancy of a rent-paying property. Unless, of course, the owner has another tenant lined up who will pay the new rent.

In all probability, based on the long history of that building, it will go empty for a year or so until some other game soul tries his luck. Of course, that history was based on the old go, go economy of the past. Not what we have now. It is not unreasonable to look at that space going empty for two years or more. So, even if the owner could rent the place for twice what he gets now, in two years, it would take him four years to get to where he is today. I guess the time is money school of economics has no import with this owner.

Too bad.

For those who may not know, the current leaseholder has a full time job as a professional pilot. That should tell you all you to need to know about bar and restaurant economics in this day and age in The Hamptons. He needs a full time job to pay his own bills, let alone keep the store open.

Finn's has hung in there this far and it will be sad to see it close if nothing can be working out.

I concur in all respects, though I have not been privy even to rumor about the money part.

It also occurs to me that EK Riverhead Partners LLC may have some sort of offer from Andrew Mendelson, the developer who's been sucking around trying to get approvals for a supermarket on his adjacent parcels.
– Dean

2. Hampton West said...

Well put, Champ19, Old Riverhead Road looks like a ghost town and very observant of you, Dean, about the developer nearby.

I've eaten there a number of times, occasionally just OK and occasionally really a treat, but never sub-par and always affordable. Will miss it, as I do the Friday night all-the-fried-clams-you-can-eat when it was The Match Box.

I know some people who swear they've never had a decent meal there... not surprisingly, they haven't tried it out too many times (why would they?!)... but Jeanne really did love the Reuben and I was always good for a couple of Magners and the Shepherd's Pie which Gordon Ramsay taught Brian Mazio. Over the past two years, the food quality has been discouragingly inconsistent though, but if I knew that the meal we'd so enjoyed the other evening was a possibility, we'd've been Thursday evening regulars.

Not for nuthin', as your neighbors in the Big City like to say, the noted epicure Hank Beck tells me that the Reuben was a staple offering of the local Rotary Club's Tuesday luncheon meetings.
– Dean

3. The Quiogue Kid said...

The Matchbox, right??? I know... real old school...

Pffuui! If'n you wanna talk really old school, how 'bout Jack Levine's Skyway Lounge, where the F80 and F86 jockeys used to fly the padded vinyl barstools the first 3½ weeks of the month, and then rattle windows 'round-the-clock all over the area, cramming in their required flight times!
– Dean

4. Crabby said...

Interesting hypothesis, Speir, and likely valid. Do I understand the Village won't hear the supermarket guy's application, as it violates the Master Plan conceived to keep the Village economy stable?

Further, is the current owner a stunt pilot? I mean, how much economics has he got under his belt? His lady friends better not quit their day jobs!

I hope the landlord reads the writing on the wall and keeps the current tenants. I love the ambience, table TV with sports, and the chicken pot pie at good prices.

Jeez, where ya been, Crabby? Thought you'd gone to Florida to turn your skin into leather this Winter!

First off, it's not "the supermarket guy," but the developer guy who wants to build a supermarket next door. But yes, it's about the Master Plan hammered out over the years with input from the commercial sector, residents and Planning consultants.

I don't know the current owner, but yes, I believe that Tim Laube told me several years ago that he was an aerial acrobatics professional.

It's not the writing on the wall the landlord needs to read, but the lettering on the signs in the windows of commercial premises around the Village.

But that's too often what happens when the landlords aren't even close to being local... witness the Staller brothers who lease their Sunset Avenue property to Waldbaum's; if they lived here and their wives had to shop there, they would have thrown that supermarket operation into the nearest dumpster back when it was still A&P, just to keep the peace in their own households!
– Dean

5. Champ19 said...

The current leaseholder was, at one time, a professional aerobatic pilot, among his other aviation pursuits, instruction, helping to run his family's aviation service business, etc. Now, he has worked his way up the ladder to a position as a corporate jet pilot. Good on him.

Dean, I would have loved to have been around when those Century Series jets blasted around here. Talk about noise. The sound of Freedom!

Freedom, indeed! My sole source of annoyance during the Shooting Star and Sabrejet era, was when I would get rocked out of bed in the morning by a rattling "boom!," I never knew whether it was from one of the end-of-the-month jet jockies tip-toeing over the sound barrier, or my dear ol' Granny forgetting to strike the match before she turned on the gas for the oven.
– Dean

6. Tugboat Bertha said...

That's funny stuff comparing jets, the sound barrier and your Granny's forgetfulness. That's free association at its best. You are a riot, Speir. Thanks for the laugh.

You're welcome... but it was no laughing matter when it happened. It was a great day when we got kitchen stove with a pilot light for the oven.

7. SouthShoreBob said...

Any idea who is taking the place? Urban rumours{sic} abound about someone putting a world BBQ place in that spot.

And you wouldn't know anything about that, would you, Bob Arnold?

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