Is the Montauk Party Over?

Before 2020, it was impossible to miss a wooden beach bar in Montauk called the Sloppy Tuna. Shoes and shirts were optional. Bikini-clad ladies and shirtless men would guzzle piña coladas on the deck. It was involved in numerous drug arrests and noise complaints.

Now that era has come to an end.

The space reopens this weekend as Bounce Beach Montauk, part of an upscale sports club chain in Manhattan and Chicago. The old grungy surf boards are gone, replaced by shiny pastel ones. Wings and mozzarella cheese sticks are out; coriander crusted yellowfin tuna and prime New York strip steak are in.

And, at least for now, dinner reservations are a must, and dancing is restricted to one’s table. “We are really trying to step away from that scene and transition to a new demographic that has grown up,” said Yosi Benvenisti, one of the owners.

While other resort towns are gearing up for a post-pandemic summer of hedonism, Montauk is invoking the proverbial “abundance of caution” and tamping down on the fun. By adhering to strict social-distancing measures, even as bars and clubs reopen in New York State, town leaders and business owners hope to repel wild crowds and keep the shenanigans away.

Michael, 40, who lives in Manhattan and works in finance (his company did not give him permission to use his full name), usually rents a house in Montauk for at least a month. This year he couldn’t find a place. “Take my office, for example,” he said. “It used to be that people in their 20s and 30s go to Montauk. Now it’s the managing directors who are working remotely and love that they can see a sunset from their balcony.”

“The people renting the houses don’t even want to talk to the young professionals, because they know they can do better,” he added.

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