A Conversation With … Zach Erdem of 75 Main in Southampton

Now in its fourth season under owner Zach Erdem, 75 Main shows no signs of slowing down. I arrived at 75 Main on a sunny Saturday afternoon just before 11 a.m. and every outdoor table was already occupied. I was shown to a table close to the front of the restaurant where I could watch all the action. Four people asked me if I had everything I needed within five minutes of my arrival. 75 Main’s staff is very friendly.

I scanned the venue for familiar faces; no celebrity sightings…yet. Erdem emerged from the back area of the restaurant with a sort of glow he seems to emanate. I wondered how he could have accomplished so much at such a young age—barely in his 30s, he’s the owner of two restaurants. 75 Main has a sister location in Delray Beach, Florida.

“I changed this place 100%. It used to be totally different than what it is now,” Erdem said of the restaurant where he used to bartend.

“I still have the same people come see the place, but now my position has changed from behind the bar. Now this is my restaurant,” Erdem said.

Although this is the first restaurant that Erdem has owned, he’s no stranger to being part of upper management in the restaurant business, noting, “Most of my customers know me from a lot a places I used to run.” He has managed venues in Las Vegas, New York City, Los Angeles and in Florida. Erdem opened 75 Main Delray in April 2012. One of the places he enjoyed working and managing the most here on the East End was Nello’s. “I left Nello’s when I found out this place was available,” says Erdem. “This was always my dream. After Nello’s and having a great experience in the restaurant business, I took over this place and a lot of clients from Nello’s moved to 75 Main. It was a good place to be, good place to work and meet people.”

He has made a lot of improvements to the aesthetics of the restaurant, but what he finds most important are good quality food, top-notch service and location. Erdem attributes a lot of the success of 75 Main to various factors, but one thing is for certain—you definitely can’t beat being on Main Street Southampton. “Nothing is better than this…sitting over here watching people,” said Erdem. “With all the doors open, it’s very inviting.” Just to get an idea of who you can catch a glimpse of at 75 Main, Erdem gave a sampling of the notables who have passed through the doors: Joe and Jill Biden, Calvin Klein, Lindsay Lohan and the Kardashian family. Erdem recalls the day the Vice President came to visit 75 Main. “There were Secret Service everywhere. Last summer, when Mr. Joe Biden came in for Sunday brunch, we were packed and didn’t have a table right away. But Mr. Biden had no problem waiting and sat down until a table was ready. I try to treat all my customers with equal value and importance.” 75 Main is clearly a popular place—reservations are always recommended!

75 Main prides itself on being open year-round, serving both the glitterati and full-time residents. Last year, during Superstorm Sandy—and previously during Hurricane Irene—Erdem didn’t miss a beat, saying “I never close this place, even during the hurricane. I was the only place open in the Hamptons. I was selling eggs, milk, bread. Everyone was closed. All the windows were closed during Sandy and Irene. I had my cooks ready and my guys ready for business.

We did good business those days. I was the only one standing out in the street telling people to come in, they called me crazy, but I mean, it’s business. I don’t mind to keep it open. Doesn’t matter if I get one customer or two, I will still be happy to take care of some people.”

Erdem prides himself on making certain everyone has a great experience in his restaurant. Renowned Chef Mark Militello, new to the 75 Main scene this year, is committed to serving the best quality food. “(Mark’s) name is on the food, so he will not settle for anything but the best,” says Erdem. “My prices went up as a result, but you can be guaranteed that it is the best quality, delivered fresh every day.” Militello is known for placing South Florida on the culinary map. He’s a former food critic, and you can be certain that he will be just as hard on his own dishes.

“His patience that he puts in to food is amazing,” stated Erdem. “The seasoning of the halibut, swordfish, sea bass, the taste is great. Since Mark is here, I don’t eat anywhere else for my dinner. He’s on top of his game and knows what he’s doing.”

In addition to great food and service, 75 Main is also known for its late night scene, particularly on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The lounge stays open until 4 a.m., perfect for those craving a big night out. Summers at 75 Main feature a lineup of some of the country’s most popular DJs, live entertainment and themed parties. Calvin Harris and Victor Calderone are expected to make an appearance.

Next on tap, one of Erdem’s dreams is to open a restaurant in his home, Istanbul, Turkey. “I’m not ready yet, but this is one of my goals. It’s difficult to have a couple locations (when) it’s run by just me, one person.” In the meantime, Erdem will be certain to continue working hard at making 75 Main one of the East End’s best restaurants. It has already succeeded in making USA Today’s 10 Best Places for Brunch on Long Island list.

Erdem has a true passion for his business. His dedication to providing the best service to clients is obvious. Or, as Erdem puts it, “75 Main is my heart.”

75 Main is located at, you guessed it, 75 Main Street in Southampton. The phone number? 631-283-7575.

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