Starr Boggs, Westhampton chef, restaurateur dies aged 70
At the end of February, Starr Boggs officially sold his eponymous restaurant in Westhampton Beach more than 40 years after coming to the area to work as a chef. Just over a month later, on March 30, he died at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. Boggs turned 70 earlier this year.
Boggs was truly a Westhampton legend. His restaurant was one of the oldest and most popular restaurants in the Hamptons. He had been present at Westhampton Beach every summer since 1985 – with one exception in 2003 – in four different locations.
The restaurant was known for its local fish specialties, premium dry-aged beef, and extensive wine list that Boggs curated himself. A self-proclaimed oenophile, he stressed the importance of pairing the right fine wine with a particular meal. Monday night lobster cook-ins at the restaurant have become a Westhampton tradition that has drawn crowds.
Boggs had been looking to sell the restaurant on Parlato Drive for several years and he was ready for a new chapter in his life. David and Rachel Hersch of Rooted Hospitality, which owns Cowfish and RUMBA in Hampton Bays, bought the place with the intention of turning it into a partner restaurant for Flora in Westhampton Beach called Fauna.
As happy as Boggs was when he spoke to Behind the hedges after the sale it was of course bittersweet. In this final reflection, he spoke less of the end of his legacy and more of his gratitude for his loyal customers, his dedicated staff – many of whom have returned year after year – and his friends who have helped him along the way.
“I’m going to miss working here on Long Island and with the great food we have,” Boggs said in February, but “I’m celebrating that I had a great run.”
Starr Boggs — that’s a Welsh Irish surname — grew up on a 1,000-acre farm in Virginia, where “we grew and raised and fished for everything we ate. It instilled in me a real passion for local sourcing and I’m carrying on that tradition,” he said. Dan’s papers in 2018.
He was preparing to play football at William and Mary College when he was sidelined by a knee injury. His retreat was a budding culinary passion.
Boggs came to Westhampton via Nantucket in 1981 when Susan McAllister, owner of The Inn at Quogue, needed a new chef. “She brought me here – like her and like Long Island, it reminded me of where I grew up on the east coast of Virginia,” he recalled. After the first season, he and McAllister went to The Patio for lunch, and when they discovered it was available, they rented it and later bought it, running two restaurants for a time.
McAllister’s help to get him a piece of the restaurant was his “stepping stone”, he recalls. “I came here with almost pocket change in my pocket, no automobile, a sail bag and that was about it.”
In 1985, they sold both restaurants, and he used the proceeds as seed money for the first Starr Boggs, which he opened on Sunset Avenue, where Tony’s Asian Fusion is now located. The 40-seat restaurant received four stars from both The New York Times and News day. Boggs recalled how there was a waiting list for months.
He later brought Starr Boggs to the ocean, opening at the Old Dune Deck Hotel on Dune Road, which he rented for 12 years. During this time he also opened Starr Boggs in Hampton Square, a year-round business in the former Howell House. It sold in 1996, then divested the space to the beach in 2002.
A year later, he bought the building at 6 Parlato Drive and opened in 2004. Leonard Riggio, the founder of Barnes & Noble, was his real estate partner. He and Boggs had been friends for over three decades, dating back to their years at Quogue.
Looking back on his time in business, he said it was because he was lucky to have good friends, good staff, and good customers.
Arrangements are still being finalized.