Not all that long ago, before Montauk became a hot-spot for summer party-seekers, the hamlet on the easternmost tip of Long Island was defined by its laid-back motels, family-run restaurants, wide, empty beaches and a shabby charm that was anything but chic.
But over the last decade, investors have come to see scruffy Montauk in a different light — as a place that cleans up good. And as more residents cash out and new money flows in, the last underdeveloped portion of the East End is becoming more like, well, the developed East End.
Old-time pancake houses and soft-serve ice cream shops along the main drag have been joined by high-end boutiques selling $300 beach cover-ups and outposts of trendy Manhattan chains like Tacombi, the Mexican taqueria also in NoLIta, Flatiron and the West Village. Formerly rundown motels have been given makeovers, installing poolside DJs. Montauk was once considered a cheaper alternative to the Hamptons, of which it is technically a part, being within the Town of East Hampton. But because it was so rough around the edges, it seemed in a different league. And being nearly three hours from Manhattan by car, not counting traffic, it was also thought of as off-puttingly remote. But any grumbling about how far it is from the city kind of went away when it became a really cool place.