Gurney's Inn
April 20, 2011

Jerry's Ink


In the beginning it was a dream.

I would own a restaurant in East Hampton.

It would be a warm, beautiful place with great food and wonderful service.

It would become one of the most popular restaurants in the Hamptons.

It would be a place my entire family – my kids, their spouses, my grandkids and our friends – would enjoy scrumptious feasts where we would all sit and just revel in our love for good food and each other.

Like I said, it was a dream. But then, it happened.

In 1993 I was part of a group that bought a building at 99 North Main Street. North Main Street at the time was viewed as being on "the other side of the tracks" compared to the rest of East Hampton. The building at one time used to house a terrible Chinese restaurant where, at the dingy bar, more drugs were sold than egg rolls. I decided to build a restaurant on that site.

It was an impetuous snap decision. That's the way it is with dreams. What did I know about running a restaurant? Exactly what I know today, 18 years later: nothing. But not knowing something is never bad – you can always learn, but thinking you know it all can be fatal.

I sought out and got help from a great restaurateur, Drew Nieporent. Without his help in the early days, we would never have made it. I worked with a wonderful architect, Frank Greenwald, and together we designed a beautiful restaurant. A talented artist, the late Kathe Tanous, made caricatures of our guests. Martha Stewart, Howard Stern, Billy Joel and 50 other Hamptons notables and customers went up on our walls.

With the help of Jane Lapin, a magician with flowers, we built a handsome planter outside the restaurant, filled it with fresh flowers, and suddenly North Main Street took on a nifty new look.

So why am I selling one of the most successful restaurants in East Hampton?

In 2008 I watched Barack Obama run over Hillary Clinton to become our President.

From the very first "Yes We Can" and "Change You Can Believe In," I decided that this country was falling in love with an attractive, great-speechmaking hustler/socialist who, if he got into office, was going to pursue his agenda to destroy the best health care in the world and re-distribute wealth. Yours and mine.

I told my friends that from that moment on everything I owned – my houses, my advertising business, my newspaper and my restaurant – was for sale.

A lot of people have come around to my way of thinking, but there is no way in the world that Barack Obama won't be reelected in 2012.

If you think that Obama's plan for over-taxing everyone but the 46 percent who don't pay any income tax (including his friend Jeffery Imholt and General Electric) will stop after he's re-elected in 2012, you are naïve.

Why does this so go against my grain? Maybe it's because of where I've come from to get to where I am. I've been broke, so broke with a wife and kids and no job that I had to borrow money from my parents, who didn't have it for themselves but always managed to come up with it for me.

I got lucky and worked day and night and built a great advertising agency. I have employed thousands of people in my lifetime. I've been good to them and they have been good to me.

I'm just not ready to have my wealth redistributed. I'm not ready to pay more tax money than the next guy because I provide jobs and because I work a 60-hour week and I earn more than $250,000 a year.

So why am I dropping out? Read a brilliant book by Ayn Rand called Atlas Shrugged, and you'll know.

But this should not be about my politics, but about my restaurant. Over the last 14 years, the restaurant has been managed by Walter Struble. He has made it what it is today.

All I provided was my name and my support. He and my brilliant chef made it all happen. The kitchen at Della Femina Restaurant has been run by Michael Rozzi for the last nine years. (He's worked in our kitchen for 16 years.) He is a good man who loves his work. He is, in my opinion, the best chef on the East End, and one of the best chefs in the country.

Struble and Rozzi are stars. If you are an entrepreneur or a person with a dream and you want to build yourself a great restaurant, give your financial support to Struble and Rozzi and stand back and let them do for you what they have done for me.

A note about the people who have bought Della Femina Restaurant and will be opening the new East Hampton Grill at 99 North Main Street on or around Memorial Day: They're good people. You're going to like them. Their restaurant, The Palm Beach Grill, is by far the best restaurant in Palm Beach. I have every reason to believe that in a short while, The East Hampton Grill will be the best restaurant on the East End. A word to the wise: Make your reservations now.

So what's the sense memory I have as I leave Della Femina Restaurant?

It was a hot July night. We had a table for 17 in the garden at the restaurant. I started the evening with an ice-cold Absolut Peppar vodka martini straight up with plenty of olives on the side. My wonderful son Michael had the same. My son-in-law John was drinking a double Johnny Walker scotch. Everyone else was drinking wine or Diet Coke.

On the far end of the table sat my wife, the beautiful Judy Licht, engrossed in a conversation with my four-year-old grandson Charlie.

I sat there sipping my drink, looking at my family. "There's a wonderful Jewish word to describe what I'm doing," I thought. "The word is 'kvelling' (beaming)."

The food arrived, everyone was eating and laughing and loving being with each other. Across the table my grandson Zach and my son J.T. were eating steaks with extra wine sauce. There were oysters for my granddaughter Beanie (Annabel), who fell in love with the taste at the age of three.

I smiled at my youngest grandkid, Maggie, who had more spaghetti and butter on her face than in her tiny stomach. "This is my family. I love them all so so much."

As the night went on, I realized at one point I wanted this feeling . . . this meal . . . to last forever.

It never does. Sooner or later – it's time to leave.

The building is sold, the restaurant is sold, but the sweet memories of that hot summer night, and a thousand delicious nights like it over the years, will belong to me and my family forever.

If you wish to comment on "Jerry's Ink" please send your message to or visit and scroll to the bottom of the column.

  1. print email
    Open a Jerry's Restaurant in Manhattan
    April 20, 2011 | 09:04 AM

    Make it with the traditional homecooked meals, pot roast, roast chicken, roast turkey and lasagne and with great dark green salads,
    Call it Jerry's Home Sweet Home

  2. print email
    April 20, 2011 | 11:42 AM

    Great story, Jerry.

    Paul Cappelli
  3. print email
    Not quite John Gault
    April 20, 2011 | 12:43 PM

    It'd be ok to simply say you were cashing out after an amazing run but to blame it on President Obama's desire to raise taxes on those of us who can afford it just seems like a cheap shot.

    Jon Johnson
  4. print email
    Great Restaurant; Refreshing Honesty
    April 20, 2011 | 01:45 PM

    To Jerry....You are a great man in so many ways. I've been a fan since childhood. I'm
    from L.A. but have been fortunate to dine at your restaurant, many times. And good for you to lay part of your decision at Obama's door. If "not quite John Gault" wants to
    pay more taxes, he can do just that. There is a line of the 1040 form for the taxpayer to add more. That goes for Mssrs. Buffett and Gates, too. Obama is always whining about things being "fair". What's fair about taking 40 to 80% of hard working
    people's money every year? We pay enough! Good for you! I wish you many happy,
    wealthy and peaceful years ahead. Creative people should be rewarded; not punished.

    Cat Jagger-Pollon
  5. print email
    The Jerry I now, admire and love
    April 20, 2011 | 03:22 PM

    JDF a touching farewell. Cath and I can try to understand what the last 18 years meant to you and to the Dellafemina family. And know it's move on time, but why pin the reason on BO? It's evident to all where your'e political bent is, so why not do what used to be done in America and evidently is in the past, keeping ones politics to ones self.

    marvin davis
  6. print email
    The Jerry I now, admire and love
    April 20, 2011 | 03:22 PM

    JDF a touching farewell. Cath and I can try to understand what the last 18 years meant to you and to the Dellafemina family. And know it's move on time, but why pin the reason on BO? It's evident to all where your'e political bent is, so why not do what used to be done in America and evidently is in the past, keeping ones politics to ones self.

    marvin davis
  7. print email
    The Jerry I now, admire and love
    April 20, 2011 | 03:22 PM

    JDF a touching farewell. Cath and I can try to understand what the last 18 years meant to you and to the Dellafemina family. And know it's move on time, but why pin the reason on BO? It's evident to all where your'e political bent is, so why not do what used to be done in America and evidently is in the past, keeping ones politics to ones self.

    marvin davis
  8. print email
    Freedom is not "free"
    April 20, 2011 | 04:50 PM

    Even Benjamin Franklin knew there was nothing so certain as "death and taxes". The President you loved (GW) put us in a dopey war, added a $trillion to the national debt, and reduced your taxes. Now you want my grandchildren to pay for your comfortable retirement with their taxes. C'mon Jerry wake up, smell the roses, and pay your fair share for the privilege of being and American.

    Gus Antell
  9. print email
    April 20, 2011 | 04:56 PM

    Jerry thanks for 18 years of great food and wonderful memories .Walter and Michael truly are the stars of your long run in east hampton.Hope for good health and continued success in the future

    Glenn Budnick
  10. print email
    Farewell, Jerry.
    April 20, 2011 | 10:31 PM

    I enjoy your column just as I have enjoyed dining at your restaurant. I can't see the logic in blaming President Obama for your decision to sell everything you own. Paying taxes is like paying condominium common charges. They're both fees for services provided. It stands to reason that those who live in the largest, most luxurious spaces would pay more in condominium charges. Paying one's fair share of taxes is not a punishment.

    I wish you and your family well upon the sale of your restaurant.

  11. print email
    Good for you John Galt!!
    April 21, 2011 | 11:53 AM

    Wow, I'm reading some of these comments from people on here -- they just don't get it. They are somewhat amusing, but really sad.

    I completely support your decision. How do others dare to tell you that "you can afford it" because you happen to earn more than some artibrarily determined amount of money that they deem to be "rich?" Why should the income you earn by being a productive citizen be confiscated by a government who breeds hatred and envy of the producers, to give that money to petulant, unproductive, unambitious moochers? Obvious Answer: It shouldn't.

    In addition, most of these so-called "rich" who are hardworking and blessed with a decent living give a lot to charities and are active in helping/supporting/giving back to their communities!! I would much rather give directly to good, local charitable organizations that I know will be of immediate help to the local community around me than have the government confiscate money and filter it down through all of their friends and political connections before a few cents on the dollar actually make it to the poor they are purporting to help.

  12. print email
    Jerry's journey
    April 21, 2011 | 12:13 PM

    I have never been in Jerry's resturant, hell, I've never been in the hamptons. I have never faced Jerry's dilemma, I have never earned that kind of income. but neither have I been in a position to employ a great number of people, nor had the oppurtunity to build a fine resturant. What I have done is searve my country's military for most of my more productive years as a NCO in the US Army. Still in all I envy Jerry his accomplishments and I'll be damned if I will sit here and chastise him for giving up his resturant and other things, or his beliefs that he has paid his fair share, He worked hard for what he has acheived, and if he feels no further obligation to those who do not work, or do not have to pay taxes, then I say "GOOD ON YOU JERRY". Some of you crtisize his comments that Obama has ruined things that were, because you have never been there, Unlike me, you feel that you should get part of what is his, just because you are living in this country. To you I say "Get off you fat lazy ass, and try to emulate him instead of trying to rob him".
    To Jerry I say, "sit down and enjoy it all for a while Jerry, you have EARNED it".

    Jerry Allen
    SFC US Army (RET)

    Jerry Allen, Laughlin Nv.
  13. print email
    Good bye, farewell, so long
    April 21, 2011 | 01:35 PM

    Jerry, I not only respect your decision, but I encourage it. You are so right in what you believe Mr. Obama is doing to this country. He said it before the election and he has done every thing in his power to make it happen. He will take from those that have worked all their lives, worked hard, and he will give it those that only work hard at believing that some one else owes them some thing. The wealth of this country is already being redistributed, look at the tax form of some one that has three kids, makes 20,000 a year and only paid in 1500.00 in federal tax. They get back 6 7 or even 8000.00 in a refund Based on the EIC. Where do you people think that money comes from. Now Mr. Obama wants to take even more. Well Jerry thank you for standing up and saying what so many of us think. God Bless you and God Bless this Country. We will be great again.

    Scott King Oregon
  14. print email
    My total admiration
    April 21, 2011 | 03:11 PM

    I also worked hard my entire life owning my own business for 37 years but in the end, due to medical problems I had to drop out. As the bills piled up I had nowhere to turn but to ask for assistance. I was totally ashamed. Then I met people who played the system their entire life and realized I was only asking for a small part of what I had paid in. I'm back on my feet & when I drop out you can find me with John Galt

    Hank Reardon Jr
  15. print email
    It's not just the taxes, it's the regulations that Obama wants i
    April 21, 2011 | 03:30 PM

    Hi, Jerry. I've never been to your restaurant as I live in Kansas, and when I have been to the Hampton's it was because I was driving through on my way to somewhere else. But I don't blame you one bit. The government under the Democrats is becoming onerous for anyone with a business, even a little tiny business like mine.
    Why? Because the regulations that Obama's army of bureaucrats are creating will kill the incentive to produce something special. I have a small farm. I sell truly free-range chicken eggs at our local farmers' market. I grow some vegetables and sell them, too. The new "food safety" law, passed by the Lame Duck Congress, will cost me more to comply with than I make. SO instead of growing my little business, I'll end up having to go work for McDonald's or Wal-Mart, because at least so far, those humble jobs don't require compliance with a Federal Government which is grossly overreaching its mission.

    Or .... maybe I'll just sell the fresh eggs underground!

    Good luck to you, Jerry, and to all entrepreneurs who are the current villains of the world, according to this crazy, horrible administration.

    Beth Donovan, The Farm at Castle Argghhh!!!
  16. print email
    Go Jerry!
    April 21, 2011 | 03:32 PM

    I remember you best from Advertising - which tells you how old I am. Thank you for your years of effort in all of your endeavors and for the many opportunities you provided for others. Thanks also for telling us the truth about our nominal president and why you aren't going to take it any more. Our generation may be the last that understands the value of personal responsibility and individual achievement and, while you may be the first, you won't be the last to "shrug." Now go play!

    Judy Taylor, Denver, CO
  17. print email
    Going Galt
    April 21, 2011 | 03:54 PM

    After browsing page six, I was shocked to see that you were getting rid of your famous restaurant. I grew up in the Springs and I remember when you were first building out the Restaurant. Since then, I became a Commercial Real Estate Broker and then when it all came crashing down, I read “Atlas Shrugged” and I decided to become a political activist.
    I run the “Capitalism” page on Facebook ( ). I decided to post your entire story on our page. My esteem for you was already high, but you certainly took it to another level by Going Galt ( ). FYI, you are getting a TON of clicks.

    Is there any way that you would permit me and my team to do a viral video interview of your situation, for our fans?

    Michael Bronspigel (
  18. print email
    Very Sad
    April 21, 2011 | 04:17 PM

    Every one who disagrees is saying "Pay your fair share!" What is a fair share? What is Fair? Because a person works hard and is smart and takes risks he has to give more of his money to the government? We should all pay our fair share, but "share" being the operative word. Nobody is letting Jerry have a say in that.

    Jackie Hershey
  19. print email
    From one entrepreneur to another
    April 21, 2011 | 04:28 PM

    Jerry, I don't know you but I do understand you - I've been in business now for 10 years. I started with just $250, a stack of books and lots of 'sweat equity'. My income has been high enough to pay $40,000 a year in taxes which is about 33% of my take-home pay. I have earned over 1.25 million in 10 years with no employees - just me. For years now we entrepreneurs have been called "evil" and "selfish" by our own government, the so-called media and the ignorant. The selfish ones are those who do not pay taxes or believe the 'rich' percentage should be higher. If 10% is good enough for God then 10% should be enough for ALL of us to pay - regardless of income. They hate us because they have envy, pride and greed.

    Did you know street gangs in large cities throughout the world impose what they call 'fines', 'rent' or 'taxes' on businesses? They map out their 'territory' and then go up and down the streets looking for business and demand that they pay x dollars a month to them in 'rent'. If you do not pay then they 'enforce' their demands by kidnapping you, harming you, a family member or worse. They don't bother the poorer businesses only the 'rich' ones. Then they 'redistribute' some of the 'rent' they collect to the poor, which is the majority, in the community to 'buy' their support. This is going on right now in all major US cities. This is how the drug cartels in Colombia got so powerful back in the 70's and 80's.

    Our government is now doing the same thing - just using pens, paper and judges!

    NOW I am starting a second business, which will by far replace what I do now. As part of my business plan I have to consider how I might "move" my company OUT OF THE USA if they continue their hatred of job makers and business builders. Sadly at some point I may have to completely close the company here and re-open it in another country and move my family there. Hopefully we can turn things around and teach the next generation the truth. If not, everyone will wonder who is John Galt but it will be too late for them.

    May God have mercy on our nation!

    Joe Richardson, Texas
  20. print email
    I don't even know you or your restaurant, but this makes me sad.
    April 21, 2011 | 06:58 PM

    I just sent this link out to a local Objectivist Club here in Wisconsin. I am not in your position but maybe a related one. I am a freelance photographer working pretty much exclusively with one studio. This studio is small, in fact we have two wedding crews, one led by myself and the other by the owner of the business. I have invested many hours in this company -- many of which were unpaid -- because I believed in what we were doing.

    I fear that if Mr. Obama gets his way, the owner of this business will be taxed more heavily, putting strain on the business we have both worked so hard to build up. With in the next six months we plan on opening a portrait studio, while I am excited I am nervous at what Obama's government has in store for us, more importantly to the woman who writes 90% of the payments I receive. In a very real way I will be made to suffer, as I am sure many of your employees may suffer, because of this supposed tax on the rich.

    In conclusion, I applaud you Jerry. If you have the means to keep more of what you have made -- because let us not forget money is made, not received -- out of the hands of government, do it and don't look back. Good luck to you in the future.

    Ryan P. Murphy
  21. print email
    Response to the Non-Believers
    April 21, 2011 | 08:55 PM

    I first read Atlas Shrugged in 1969 and over the years have dreamed of Galt's Gulch and the return of the producers. I don't know Jerry, but he sounds like a true individual, who has only ever wanted to provide an excellent product and be rewarded for it. How many times does it take for one to be told this is evil and how can you be so selfish and greedy before you've had enough? The Obama administration has served at least one useful purpose. It has sped up inevitable consequence of the socialist trends this country has been following and growing since FDR. Watch out world... if Atlas shrugs, can you survive?

    Irene LeClaire
  22. print email
    Jerry, you give me hope
    April 21, 2011 | 10:03 PM

    SEE YOU IN ATLANTIS $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  23. print email
    I am in solidarity with you
    April 21, 2011 | 10:46 PM

    Some do not get the point. No one, not my neighbor, not my President owns my life. It is mine - all mine. And for the President and the government to treat me and all the productive Americans as if they have a right to a minute of our lives without our consent is such an offense that no longer does one attempt to make something work with them. Simple as that. When their power gets under control, then perhaps something else will possible. But not now.

  24. print email
    I am in solidarity with you
    April 21, 2011 | 10:46 PM

    Some do not get the point. No one, not my neighbor, not my President owns my life. It is mine - all mine. And for the President and the government to treat me and all the productive Americans as if they have a right to a minute of our lives without our consent is such an offense that no longer does one attempt to make something work with them. Simple as that. When their power gets under control, then perhaps something else will possible. But not now.

  25. print email
    Far better than entitlements
    April 21, 2011 | 10:47 PM

    Jerry mentions here that he has employed thousands of people in his lifetime. My question to all of the bargain basement socialists is this: How is any government "entitlement" better than what Jerry has done? Without a penny of cost to ANY taxpayer, he provided solid and dependable incomes for thousands of people — as do the many "Jerries" in this country who, through their entrepreneural efforts, create jobs and, in turn, reap great financial benefits for themselves once it finally pays off. And to what effect? To be demonized by the powers that be in Washington. My income as an independent consultant in advertising and design is pretty meager, but I aspire to more. And when these hours of working late into the night to satisfy that one client, sticking my neck out to provide promo work at basement floor prices for a struggling startup, researching ways to provide the newest innovations in web technology, etc. finally pay off… To think that there are people in power whose primary goal is then to pull that rug out from under me at first chance and pass it on to people who have no intention of working, or at least never took the efforts to acquire the skills necessary to earn a good income, well… it makes me feel exactly the way Jerry describes in this article.

    Philip Sasser
  26. print email
    I don't shrug
    April 22, 2011 | 10:18 AM

    Maybe it's the mixture of Scottish, Irish, and Lebanese blood. Perhaps when you combine that with being born in Palestine.... TEXAS, you turn out different. I don't know. But what I do know is that I will be damned is I give in, give up, or relent in fighting against anyone or anything that would assault my liberty!

    I dont envy the restaurateur. That is one of the hardest jobs in the world. You have to learn to be gracious, and smile no matter what, and still have to serve food that is prepared lovingly, and can be sorely under-appreciated no matter how well you prepare it.

    You have to deal with a mountain of idiotic and senseless codes and laws, and never have a free minute. YOu are always freshening the menu, or the restaurant, to keep people interested in coming back, and scrubbing the place daily.

    And you work like a dog, day and naught, scratching your way along for 18 hours a day to have the government rob you with more and more taxes than there is paper to write them on. Yes, I understand your frustration.

    Jerry, I wish you the best, and know that somewhere there will be a new venture, a new challenge to draw you out. That's how it is with the entrepreneur. We cannot have nothing to do, and golf after a few months of doing it very day gets too boring.

    I wish you the best, whatever you do. I'll fight to my last gasp, myself, just as those who formed this nation did, because the Pledge I was taught is worth backing and fighting for today, as much as it was then.

    I do not believe BO will be reelected.

    Lou - now in Denver
  27. print email
    Not on the menu
    April 22, 2011 | 11:59 AM

    As those who championed "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" in the Soviet Union found, the monster created doesn't understand when you run out of food, and could care less about anyone stumbling or falling under the yoke. Worst of all, its food is not material things, but total control of all thought and action.

    Michael Ferguson
  28. print email
    I'll See You In Atlantis
    April 22, 2011 | 12:46 PM

    You are correct to lay the blame at Obama Administration's doorstep. Myself, I also blame the Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, and several other Administrations. Ever since the New Deal this country has be going downhill. Our government has exceeded its mandate and has taken upon itself to ignore the constitution and start redistributing wealth. Our backwards society now punishes the productive, the innovative, and the job-creators. Instead it rewards the stupid, the lazy, and the moochers. Obama and his socialist cronies are by far the worst culprits in regards to speeding this decay along.

    I’ll wash dishes in Galt’s Gulch if I have to, but I refuse to support this corrupt government. When more and more of society’s productive people go on strike, then there will be no one left except for the politicians, the bureaucrats, the stupid, the lazy, and the moochers. When that happens, the whole flawed system will come crashing down. Ayn Rand’s book “Atlas Shrugged” will have predicted it all.

    Troy Omelchuk
  29. print email
    Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand Institute
    April 22, 2011 | 01:32 PM

    I enjoyed your story, Jerry, and the entrepreneural stories that follwed it. My moral compass is Objectivism, the philosophy that Ayn Rand developed. I support the ARI, which I believe produces excellent results in promoting AR's idea.

    John Wirth
  30. print email
    Thank goodness a few men stand tall
    April 24, 2011 | 10:52 AM

    Steve Forbes, The Donald, (probably more for his shows ratings though)The Hill(ary)Jerry, The only thing that is Open in this President's agenda is the hole in the head of the people that follow it with out a question.

    God Bless America and Happy Easter!

    Morgan Bucks
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Gurney's Inn