In The Magazine

Hamptons Moment: The Wild, Wild East

Thursday, June 22, 2017

As told to Beth Landman

Eddie Burke Jr., whose law office is on Sag Harbor’s Main Street, is the “go to” guy for any problem you might have on the East End, from a traffic violation to a felony. The dapper 52-year-old grew up in the village and has witnessed its growth. His journey has taken him from schoolboy working in his family’s restaurant to becoming one of the Hamptons’ best-known attorneys, with clients ranging from Jason Kidd to the late Sandy Gallin. His father, Edward D. Burke Sr., was a Southampton town justice and then a State Supreme Court justice. When Senior’s portrait was recently unveiled at Suffolk County Supreme Court in Riverhead, Junior introduced him: “He said arguments are rarely black and white, and I used that theme [in my speech].”

I grew up in Sag Harbor. I went to elementary school here, and my family was lucky enough to purchase a cornerstone property on Long Beach, the Salty Dog. We transformed it into the Waterside and eventually built condominiums there as well, which we still own.

Because I grew up around a restaurant, I was enthralled by the food industry and wanted to go to the Culinary Institute of America, but my dad had a firm glimpse at how difficult restaurants were. He was also a town justice and then a State Supreme Court justice, and he put the gavel down and ordered us all to law school. He said, “Even if you don’t want to be a lawyer, I want you to get that degree. It will help you in any business.”

I ended up falling in love with law, but I still had an itch to be a restaurateur. In 2001, I opened Jeff and Eddy’s Oyster House on Main Street in Sag Harbor with my partner, Jeff Resnick, who owns Sen across the street. Katie Lee was our fishmonger up front. She had me at hello. She was just starting her culinary career and wanted to learn how to filet fish properly. Billy Joel hung out at the restaurant every day. [Joel and Lee married in 2004].

Jimmy Buffett [who has a house in nearby North Haven] was our landlord. I told him I was a local boy looking to do well. In 2004, I bought the building from him. There were no brokers. It was just he and I talking things through. He was great. He was an amazing businessman with a laid-back, easygoing approach to dealing with people in a straightforward way.

Eventually, Laurent Tourondel took over the lease and opened LT Burger [in July 2010].

It’s always been tough to park in Sag Harbor, and Buffett had spaces in the back that were like gold. He sold the building to me with the condition that he would keep a parking spot. He still has it, and I protect it with my full legal power.


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