Well now. THIS is an exciting development. Springs — the working-class Hamptons neighborhood most famous for hardscrabble cottages, pebble beaches and that drunken lout of an artist, Jackson Pollock — has an artisanal food shop. We repeat, Springs has an artisanal food shop.
Through a fortuitous turn of events, British-born Bridie Woodward has opened Ahab’s Corner Shop on Fort Pond Boulevard, a stone’s throw from Wolfie’s Tavern (which draws a less savory crowd, ourselves included). Inside Ahab’s, pictured above, there are farm-fresh eggs, imported cheeses and Italian flatbreads. “I sort of based the concept on a hybrid of an American general store and an English corner shop,” Woodward explains.
An English corner shop, for those who don’t know, “is where you can get everything: cook’s ingredients, balsamic vinegars, olive oils, tahinis, curry sauce, all sorts of different things,” she says. And because this is the Hamptons, and a short ways away from Maidstone Beach (not to mention Gerard Drive, Louse Point and Albert’s Landing), Woodward also sells “beachy stuff” like sarongs and sun creams.
Since she opened July 4, her ice cream sandwiches and vegan ice cream — made by Melt Bakery in the city and Van Leeuwen in Brooklyn — have been flying off the shelves. That’s been a surprise to Woodward, who also has a deli counter, where she makes sandwiches and sells fresh breads (made by local bakers Blue Duck and Carissa’s Breads). Woodward, who moved to the U.S. from London several years ago to help run a small advertising agency in New York City, had experience running projects and hosting events before opening Ahab’s. “But this is a different kind of adventure,” she says.
A few years ago, Woodward wound up marrying an American, a Long Islander with an affinity for Montauk, and the couple decided to call Springs their home. “His brother took us to Maidstone Beach,” she says. “And we fell in love with the area.”
That said, she was inspired to start the shop because of the sparse options for foodies in Springs: “I didn’t want to drive all the way to town if I needed some olive oil.” While she’s still working in advertising, when the option to rent the lower room of the Arts Bldg — a Springs landmark, pictured at right — came up in June, she jumped at the chance. “It was a bit of a mad rush to open,” she says.
For now, she’s open Thursdays through Sundays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. “I am kind of seeing [this year] as a bit of a test,” says Woodward, who will adjust inventory — and hours — as need be. “I want it to be a place everybody can come in and get something they need.” She plans on staying open through December, with perhaps a short break during the coldest winter months.
And the name — Ahab’s Corner Shop? “It’s Jackson Pollock’s poodle’s name,” she says. “I wanted something that was connected to the area.”
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