Shagwong 2.0 – Q&A with Jon Krasner
If it sometimes feels as though things move fast around here it’s because they do. While just last Thursday Montauk’s Shagwong Tavern had an emotion-filled farewell party for longtime owner Jimmy Hewitt, the new ownership is already feting the reopening this evening.
Though not much is changing, the turning over of the keys felt like the end of an era for some. And quite an era it’s been: the restaurant opened in 1927, became Shagwong in 1969, and has seen the likes of Andy Warhol and The Rolling Stones come through its doors.
The new owners are real estate developer Jon Krasner and partner Beau Campsey. Jon also owns Harlow East in Sag Harbor and new Montauk spot The Saltbox. Though busy preparing for tonight’s launch, Jon graciously took the time to answer some of our questions about this next phase in Shagwong history. Change is inevitable and Montauk currently seems to be an epicenter of balancing old and new.
How would you describe Shagwong to someone who’s never been there?
One of the most original and soulful bars that I have ever been to.
Will that description still ring true of the 2.0 version you’re celebrating the launch of this evening?
Absolutely. Every business eventually needs new energy injected into it to keep it going. These places were established when everyone was up and at em and going for it in life. Generations move on and new generations need to step in and pick things back up.
What drew you to this particular spot and how did you come to see it as an investment opportunity?
Everyone loves a great bar – and when you are lucky enough to have the chance to be two blocks from the ocean in one of the greatest US beach towns you have to jump on it!
You mentioned that the “the pictures on the walls are staying” – why do you feel it’s important to keep the aesthetic elements in place?
The pictures show the entire history of the bar and everyone who has passed through there and are part of the vibe that it’s become. I would never take those down and I am open to adding new ones from new generations who want to be a part of the on-going tradition.
What influenced the decision to keep the same staff?
I am not coming in to hurt anybody, everyone has families and opportunities to work hard and keep their jobs.
There is a very long history behind the space and some sentimentality attached to it for a lot of the locals – are you concerned at all that new ownership might alienate some of the core customers?
We are going to do our best not to do that – everyone is our friend and everyone is welcome!
Some of the locals express varying degrees of animosity towards new businesses and the influx of “weekend warriors” during the summer season – how do you and your partners hope to strike the right balance between maintaining the authenticity Shagwong is known for and running a lucrative business?
By staying open all week and year-round, keeping the prices at a welcoming number where everyone can afford a beer, and having some good old Rolling Stones playing on the speakers 😉
Describe your idea of a perfect night at Shagwong…
The incredible variety of people is the best part of Shagwong…the perfect night might be a little dancing on the bar, a couple of shots of whiskey, and hopefully making it home safely!