Since 1925, the Candy Kitchen Ice Cream Parlor and Eatery in Bridgehampton has been a place to go for a coffee, read the paper while having breakfast, lunch, or just a snack. Others come for some of their famous home made ice cream. Serving the local community with this vital service the Candy Kitchen has stood up to good times and bad over and over again and remained the same hub on the corner to all. The white Formica counter tops and swivel stools at the counter have seated the local regulars along with the likes of Howard Hughes, Truman Capote, Bette Davis, and so many other personalities of yesteryear who have stopped in for a coffee since legendary founder George Starvropoulos opened its doors to the Bridgehampton community. During the roaring twenties patrons could have a coffee and read about the exploits of President Calvin Coolidge in the morning papers. Those headlines over the years have covered, a national depression, a World War, the years of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Johnson, Clinton, the Bushes and now Obama.
For the last 32 year the keeper of the flame at the historic Candy Kitchen has been present owner Gus Laggis, who seems to know everybody as if they all went to grade school together. His nod of hello or acknowledgement is a ritual that makes small town America so special still to this day. It is a place that has a waitress named “Cookie,” who’s been there perhaps as long as 30 years but seems ageless as if she has been there since it opened. Other waitresses are still in their teens, all wearing their blue Candy Kitchen tee shirt along with the white apron that continues the tradition of local youths who for the last 83 years have stepped up to that familiar counter to serve. Behind the counter still standing at attention is the old style stainless steel malt machine blenders capable of doing three at a time. The glasses are stacked the way they have been since George opened the place as are the metal ice cream dishes. The six sided white tiles on the floor with the blue flower like tile patterns have stood the test of time as patrons have shuffled to the blue padded white booths. The hanging available ice cream flavor sign has been there forever. I was in there as a child with my father and as a father with my children myself. Almost everybody has stood in front of that ice cream counter and watched their selected flavor scooped into a cone or cup with wide open eyes anticipating the cold sugar blast of fresh home made ice cream on a hot summer day. It is as American as the Forth of July, but celebrated every summer day, not just once a year.
At the Candy Kitchen there is a back room where families and groups gather to have breakfast or late afternoon lunches. Although not the same feel as the rectangle front room that is right out of a Norman Rockwell cover, it still is cozy and has the feel of Americana 101. The food at the Candy Kitchen is consistent, served hot, quickly, and never disappoints. So many Hampton vacation mornings have started there over the years, as have spring ,winter and fall days for so many of the locals who’s enjoy that short walk to the corner to get a paper, eggs and coffee making it their daily ritual. Seeing neighbors greet each other with a nod, a smile, or just an acknowledging glance, is what community is about. Of course like all Hampton establishments in the “season,” the Candy Kitchen has moments, like Sunday mornings, when it is at full capacity and humming. But this is where the seasoned hand and eyes of owner Gus Laggis come into play. He oversees the business with the hands and eyes of a Maestro of an orchestra as he conducts his staff almost without ever saying a word. On Sundays the sound of a busy breakfast place, is of talk, forks hitting plates, coffee being sipped, and eyes waking up looking at headlines. The neon signs, in the window along with the stain glass windows are signs of yesteryear with neon signs now banned for new establishments. Romany Kramoris, the famous stain glass artist of Sag Harbor, recalls doing those windows very early in her long successful career. She called it “a big break at the time.”
The Candy Kitchen is the “time machine” of Bridgehampton. Located on the southeast corner of Route 27 and George Starvropoulos Way, millions drive by it every summer. Their cars angle on Route 27, and when they see the historic Candy Kitchen signs in the window, they know they are entering the town of Bridgehampton. The place actually greets the passing traffic like an ambassador of the Hamptons, something it has done since people still rode horses into town. The model T’s, the Woody’s, the Tbirds, the convertibles of summer as well as the Jitney’s all have paraded past the windows and door of the Candy Kitchen with everyone feeling its local warmth.