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A Sad Goodbye To Cyril’s Fish House

T.J. Clemente

The BBC (Baily's Banana Colada) was a favorite of many. (Photo: Joseph Kazickas)

There was no better way to socialize after a wonderful Hamptons weekend day at the beach then to drive out to Cyril's Fish House on the Napeague stretch on Route 27E, between Montauk and Amagansett. On weekend afternoons it was a single's paradise, a meeting ground where you might run into a friend or lover from years back or in some cases last weekend. Three hundred or more people might just show up to snooze with booze, usually with a Cyril's BBC (Baily's Banana Colada).

The author at Cyril's. (Photo: T.J. Clemente)

That has all ended due to the zealous action of the East Hampton Supervisor and his East Hampton Town Board. It seems that after 30 years of non-action, they found it necessary to finally enforce town safety and building codes on a place that's open but five months a year. Some feel closing Cyril's is another part of the East Hampton Board's war on young single people. Others say it's about time the laws and town codes were enforced.

Why was Cyril's such a magical meeting place when, in fact, its so out of the way location was always breezy chilly and dusty? It was because of the BBC, the Bailey's Banana Colada that was blended right in front of you with a real banana, ice and Baily's and a floater. The drink was heaven on a hot summer's day. It was like a banana milkshake after work. It was the perfect after beaching drink. Others all over the Hamptons have attempted to copy it, but no one has. People in huge numbers went out of their way to get there because the BBC was that good. The food served at Cyril's was edible when hungry; the view of dusty Route 27 was not scenic, but the BBC was a home run. I went to Cyril's 4 to 5 times a season, usually during the week, just for a cold BBC and a stuffed lobster or lobster roll. People voted with their actions, the tourist loved going there. They wanted to be there. A part of the reason they visit East Hampton was to go to places like Cyril's. Should safety laws be enforced? Absolutely. But now the Town Board has killed off the BBC!

Cyril supported several local causes. (Photo: T.J. Clemente)

Closing Cyril's, in my opinion, was a political three-year effort of the reigning in a sense of loss of control of all things east of Amagansett by the Town Board. The board went after Cyril's, The Sloppy Tuna, and the famous Surf Lodge, issuing over $100,000, plus worth of fines for over occupancy and after hours noise issues. With Cyril's, the death pill was the additions of an outside bar and service area that was not properly installed under town code and permit. The actual building and land where Cyril's was operated is owned by the Dioguardi family, who after a few lost court battles on the state and town level agreed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines and make Cyril's adhere to the courts findings; uninstalling all illegal additions, such as the famous outdoor bar.

Photos lined the walls inside. (Photo: Joseph Kazickas)

The final blow was when due to East Hampton Town petitioning, the New York State Liquor Authority revoked Cyril's Fish House liquor license because the owner lied when he swore under oath that "the premises were properly zoned." The sad truth is I have personally seen three previous East Hampton Town supervisors, one now a Southampton Supervisor, enjoying the quaintness of Cyril's. Did they know of the improper additions and choose not to attack Cyril's? Or was Cyril's collateral damage due to local Montauk's war on The Surf Lodge? Did the previous East Hampton board members who stopped by Cyril's think there was a huge safety situation at Cyril's these last 30 years? Only they know. One thing is for sure though, the present town supervisor and board took actions that closed Cyril's Fish House.

Lastly, let me say a few things about Mr. Cyril Fitzsimons. He was larger than life. An immigrant from Ireland, Cyril is a Jimmy Buffet looking character who watched over his place like a parrot in a pirate movie watches over the ship. In the summers past, he wore colorful sarong wraps and unique straws hats. He worried about the weekend weather all the time. He is a patriot having donated to all the causes. The hardcore blue-collar working people of East Hampton and Long Island respect him. Yes, he did battle an alcohol problem, but humbly admitted so. He could and would be arrogant when provoked. Perhaps this was his undoing.

Deceased former East Hampton Town Building Inspector Don Sharkey was a loyal Cyril's patron. Once, years back in an interview for an article on Randy Lerner's Amagansett development there, Mr. Sharkey said the following, "The truth is there are many old local farms and homes that are not up to code, I do the best I can to keep things safe, but I can't go house to house." Yet, he never closed Cyril's.

Added: May 18, 2016, 4:58 pm
Appeared In: food and wine >> food news