Ian Duke, co-owner with David Hilty of the always happening restaurant and nightlife spot, the Southampton Social Club, has had a busy summer. He and Hilty teamed up with the Club’s Executive Chef Scott Kampf to create Union Cantina, a modern Mexican eatery with “farm to table” cooking. The restaurant, one of this summer’s most popular East End openings, is located in the former Publick House space in the historic Bowden Square, site of the Mad Men era’s iconic restaurant, Herb McCarthy’s.
How long have you been in the Hamptons?
For 6 years. I came out to open Southampton Social Club.
Southampton as I have some great friends and have had many wonderful experiences here.
Secret for beating traffic on the way out to Southampton:
DON’T LEAVE!! If I have to though, taking my motorcycle on the old highway is my favorite.
How have the Hamptons changed in the last five years:
With the explosion of growth in Montauk and the near removal of nightlife in Hampton Bays there are a lot of differences. Regarding Southampton, I think we’ve improved rather drastically. We really do have a great social scene now with many different cuisines and a much improved nightlife scene.
Best time of day in the Hamptons:
That’s rather subjective. I certainly love the feeling of dinner time at Union Cantina where the happy hour crowd is turning into dinner and people are eagerly ordering more frozen Margaritas!
My fiancé and I have a house in East Quogue–I love the beach on the bay at the end of our road. For ocean swimming though, no doubt it’s Coopers!
Beside your own restaurants, what are your favorite spots….
I’d have to say Hampton Maid.
I’m a big meat and potatoes guys, so One North Steakhouse in Hampton Bays. For Italian: Tutto il Giorno
Oaklands, love that view.
I would have to say Southampton Social Club. I know I’m biased, but being able to go inside to dance and outside to lounge is really fantastic.
If you have out-of-town guests, which hotel would you recommend?
The Southampton Inn. It’s pricey but you can’t beat the location and it’s a nice inn.
Best gym/workout spot:
I’m not a gym guy. I’m a runner. I like to be outside.
Where do you like to shop for clothes?
Bloomingdales. What can I say? Everything I need is in one place, at one time.
I don’t have just one. I’m a big supporter of both kids and animal charities.
Describe the Hamptons in three words:
Family. Social. Union.
What is the secret to your success?
Knowing the value of both our guests and our staff. Never forgetting that I’m the least important guy in the place. That, and loving what you do for a living. I’m in it for over thirty years now and still LOVE it!