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Oct 28, 2010 12:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Town Pulls Plug On Rumba's Overflow Parking Lot

Oct 28, 2010 12:18 PM

Rumba Rum Bar, a popular new restaurant on Canoe Place Road in Hampton Bays, recently lost its overflow parking lot after Southampton Town Code Enforcement officials told the eatery’s owner that diners were never supposed to park there.

According to owner David Hersh, diners at Rumba had previously been parking, with permission from the property owner, on the front lawn of a private residence located at 60 Canoe Place Road, across the street from the restaurant, since he opened in April. Code enforcement did not respond until August, when it received the complaint about the overflow parking lot.

Mr. Hersh said Margaret Durand, the owner of the property that features five buildings, including a yellow house near the makeshift parking lot, gave him permission to park cars on her front lawn as soon as he opened his doors. The overflow space accommodated up to 20 cars, and those diners would then walk across the street to the restaurant, which is located at 43 Canoe Place Road. The restaurant’s main lot can hold about 28 vehicles.

“My front yard was a mess anyway,” said Ms. Durand, adding that she used to allow the employees of Rumba’s predecessors, including Margarita Island, to park on her front lawn for free.

Mr. Hersh said code enforcement officers visited his restaurant on September 7 and advised him that diners were no longer permitted to park across the street, regardless of whether or not he had Ms. Durand’s consent. Though he was not served with a summons, Mr. Hersh said his neighbor’s property is zoned residential and cannot be used as a restaurant parking lot.

“It’s a pretty straightforward situation,” said David Betts, the chief investigator for Southampton Town Code Enforcement. “The property across the street is residential. You can’t use that as a parking lot.”

A code enforcement field report filed at noon on August 4 said that a responding officer told Mr. Hersh that “he may have an over-occupancy situation.” The report also states that an officer advised Mr. Hersh to comply with zoning laws and to speak with the chief building inspector and the town’s Building Department about zoning in the area.

Mr. Betts, citing privacy issues, declined to identify those who complained about the overflow lot, or to say how many complaints were received by his department.

Ms. Durand said she allowed diners access to her property because she preferred that they park there rather than out on the street. Ms. Durand, who says she has never stepped foot inside Rumba, said Mr. Hersh would occasionally give her food as a thank you. Originally, she did not charge him rent for the lot. “He would give me a few hundred dollars here and there,” Ms. Durand said about Mr. Hersh. “It wasn’t a rent thing. He did it out of the kindness of his heart.”

“They’re nice people,” Ms. Durand said of Mr. Hersh and his staff.

Mr. Hersh said his neighbor let his diners park in her yard after seeing several businesses fail in that location. He added that Ms. Durand “wanted to see a young couple be successful.” Mr. Hersh and his wife, Rachel, who live in Eastport, run the restaurant.

To compensate for the loss of those additional spaces, Mr. Hersh said he utilizes a valet service that tries to maximize his main lot. In spite of the setback, Mr. Hersh, who said he intends to open additional restaurants in the area down the road, thinks that Rumba will continue to be successful.

“I think that we have a good product,” he said. “People are going to get there one way or another.”

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