Feel the retro vibes.|Provided1/2 Feel the retro vibes.|Provided
James Willis and his fiancee, Miasha.|Provided2/2 James Willis and his fiancee, Miasha.|Provided
After hustling on the city’s club scene for 10 years, running the show at NoLita’s Southside among others, James “Jamo” Willis was missing the beaches of his native Australia. So last summer, between DJing regular Sunday gigs at the Hamptons’ go-to dance spot Surf Lodge, he found a restaurant space on Montauk Lake and turned it into Harbor, opening this weekend at 440 West Lake Dr.
The goal: to re-create the beachside bars Willis grew up with on Sydney’s Bondi Beach. “We’ve really created a great open space, with a Mediterranean-style menu and beautiful decor that’s a little bit Australian, a little bit like you’re in Capri,” he says.
The menu spans fresh-caught fish and wood-fired pizza (there’s also a raw bar), with dinner service Wednesday through Sunday and lunch on the weekends. If you’re hanging out on Harbor’s private beach, where dogs are welcome, grab Greek salads, wraps and fresh-pressed juices from the adjacent Booby Trap café (open until 5 a.m.!) while you lay out on the sand or play bocce, ping-pong and volleyball. After sunset, expect movie screenings on the beach, too.
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At 10:30 p.m., Harbor turns into the only nightclub east of East Hampton, with beach parties and live music. Performers will span genres, but it’ll all have a note of nostalgia — think an old-school mix of everything worth remembering from the ’80s and ’90s, from rock to hip-hop, reggae and dance.
What it won’t be like is the Southside outpost he’s hosted in the past. “This is scaled back, a lot more grown up,” he says. “It’s not like a crazy nightclub.”
But if you like being surrounded by mellow Aussies (Harbor is run by Willis’ countrymen) and drinking cocktails beyond pina coladas in a retro beach house, then you’ve found your new Hamptons go-to. “This is my dream,” says Willis, “to get out of the nightlife and do it on the ocean.”