Lifestyle: Spotlights

The Little Diner That Could

Amagansett Diner With Long History Is Reborn Once Again
By Richard Lewin - June 26, 2019

In the Hamptons, where Real Estate is everything, terms like “new construction”, “custom built”, “fully renovated” are common in discussion and in the press. They describe an ever changing landscape, where progress often means a “tear down” or a new development. 

With all of the modernization happening around us, there is still comfort to be found in places that remain the same for generations. One of the most recognizable for over 60 years is the classic diner at 74 Montauk Highway in Amagansett, the current home of the Coche Comedor Restaurant. 

According to Diners of New York (© 2008 Stackpole Books), the Diner is a blend of “Modern Stainless” and “Exaggerated Modern” styles, built in the mid-1950s. The stainless steel construction with colored horizontal bands of flexglass and anodized aluminum were the most popular at the time. Based on the style, with its projecting canopy all around and interior layout, the builder/designer was likely the Kullman Dining Car Company or Silk City Diners (American Diner: Then & Now, ©1993 The Johns Hopkins University Press). 

Although the basic structure has remained the same, the location has gone through several identity changes. If you sat down at the counter in the 1950s at the “M & P Diner”, and asked the owner Mike, while he was shoveling a burger on the grill, what the name stood for, he would tell you “Mom & Pop”, just like the food they served…good old fashioned family comfort food. 

In 1992 the Diner became the Honest Diner, with classic diner food with a modernized menu, eventually becoming part of the Honest Man Restaurant Group, which also includes Nick & Toni’s, Rowdy Hall, La Fondita (next to the Diner), TownLine BBQ and Honest Catering. 

From 1995 to 2015 the Diner became the home of Art of Eating Catering, where meals were prepared for fancy Hamptons parties and events. 

In 2017, co-owners Toni Ross and Mark Smith, along with Executive Chef Joe Realmuto, decided that it was time for a new iteration of 74 Montauk Highway. Inspired by the success and popularity of their La Fondita Restaurant on the same property, the upscale Mexican style Coche Comedor, featuring locally grown ingredients, was born. Except for changing the east end of the structure to glass (for a better view of La Fondita), the exterior remains the same. The interior, however, has been heavily inspired by artist/co-owner Toni Ross, from the immense wall mural by Host18, to the indoor and outdoor tables, which are embedded with original artwork by 8 local accomplished artists. 

It seems to be human nature to become used to, and eventually not even notice, things we pass by every day. Next time you drive between East Hampton and Amagansett Villages, slow down and take a moment to appreciate a bit of history on the south side of the highway.

Coche Comedor 74 Montauk Highway, Amagansett

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