Success Percolating at Hampton Coffee
For years, customers had asked Jason Belkin to serve dinner at Hampton Coffee Company’s Water Mill spot, which has been open for 24 years. “We’ve been procrastinating,” Mr. Belkin said with a laugh. He has been busy growing the business to include cafes in Westhampton and Southampton, and most recently in Aquebogue. Over the winter, a longtime plan came together to finally give his customers what they had been asking for: dinner at Hampton Coffee.
The idea is to serve good quality, affordable food in a casual atmosphere, he said. “Out here, you’re either going to McDonald’s or you’re going to Pierre’s. Where do you bring everybody that’s not pizza or Chinese?” he asked. Offering dinner hours from 4 to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, he hopes that Hampton Coffee Company will help to fill that void on the South Fork.
It has been a long time since Hampton Coffee Company was just coffee. It has served breakfast and lunch at the Water Mill location for years. The menu has evolved from egg sandwiches to lobster rolls made with lobster from Stuart’s Seafood Market in Amagansett. Bruce Sasso, the market’s owner, spent time in Hampton Coffee’s kitchen to show cooks how to hone their lobster salad, Mr. Belkin said.
All cooked to order, entree choices include burgers made on a charcoal grill and authentic Mexican dishes like a carne asada platter ($18) and chicken enchiladas ($17). Fish and chips ($17), a Black Forest ham melt ($14), and a classic Cobb salad ($17) can also be found on the menu.
A special kids menu includes chocolate chip pancakes ($9) and cheddar cheese quesadillas ($8).
The menu remains the same, in selection and price, into the new evening hours. Takeout is also available.
As the dinner hour rolls around, the staff dims the lights in the restaurant, a former 1940s service station that retains its garage doors, and lights candles on the copper tables. Diners can also sit at a recently redone bar with stools handcrafted from reclaimed wood.
The restaurant serves wine and has four beers on tap. As the weather turns warm, diners can also sit outside in an area that overlooks the Green Thumb’s fields. All told, the restaurant can seat about 90, Mr. Belkin said.
He hopes it will be a comfortable atmosphere for both families looking for an easy dinner in between school and the evening homework routine and solo diners looking to grab a bite while enjoying a book — there’s a community book shelf — and a glass of Wolffer rosé or homemade sangria. “This fills a need,” Mr. Belkin said.
Hampton Coffee Company also just launched a loyalty program app, which can be used at any of its stores. Customers can pay for purchases using the app; find the menu, hours, and locations; earn rewards through its Perks Program, and get access to special offers and invitations to exclusive events.
Edythe Collins, who is behind the company’s marketing and public relations, said the app is a way for this small business to compete with bigger companies and offer customers the ease of paying with their smartphones. The team decided against an order-ahead option. “We had to figure out a way to maintain our level of quality,” Ms. Collins said. Ordering a latte and picking it up 15 minutes later just would not work, she said.
“If we’re not going to do something great, it’s not worth doing,” Mr. Belkin said.