The concept for Prime 103, Ed “Jean Luc” Kleefield’s new steakhouse and lounge on the Montauk Highway, isn’t borrowed from a Miami Beach rival, despite recent accusations. Its inspiration, it turns out, is much closer to home. The real backstory, according to Kleefield, is that Angelo and Maxie’s had all but sealed a deal to buy the property and open an East End outpost of their eatery, but the offer fell apart “at the eleventh hour” only a few months ago. The JL group then figured, if Angelo and Maxie’s thought a steakhouse would work, then why not?
There might be a lot of reasons. At the start of every season Kleefield seems to seek to undo himself with ever more disastrous openings. Before opening the ill-fated Madame Tongs in Southampton, JL had unveiled his megasize East End flagship in Wainscott four years ago. When the group thrust Mumbo Gumbo on Sag Harbor last summer, one local business owner quipped how JL “has the three least profitable restaurants in the Hamptons; maybe he's going for four.” Now, with JL East changing names and concepts, maybe the group can succeed by running away from their brand. Kleefield even laughs that they may auction off the right to smash the iconic “JL” letters that stood in front of JL East. If only it were that easy. —John Capone
Related: Hamptons vs. Miami: Beeferies Battle