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EaterHampton: Resto-Blogger Takes on the Bureaucrats

Our resto-blogger returned this week to chronicle the two years of planning board groveling it has taken to get to this point. A guide to the Southampton Town bureaucracy, if you will. The future home of Bruce Buschel's fish only restaurant will be the former home of the Wild Rose, a famed Bridgehampton nightclub that closed a few years back. The building, which Buschel has only renovated, has housed entertainers for the past century. He bought it for $1.2 million in 2007 under the very clever name Wild Roes LLC, an ode to the club, his mother Rose and his fish-only idea which has been brewing since then.

Two years of renovations have followed, and while some discoveries were informative (five roofs! three walls! no foundation!), most involved dealing with the archaic systems at the Southampton Planning Board. Buschel's insights from a new, very hands-on restauranteur are enlightening, to say the least. We know how the story ends: months and months of jumping through hoops has gotten him to an opening date and a nearly reconstructed restaurant. But one anecdote was just too good to pass up.

It took over a year to get a permit to (re)build the building, and when it finally arrived last spring, it had the wrong name on it. It said Wild Roses. Alert to the most minor of discrepancies, I went directly to town hall to clear up the misunderstanding. All fingers pointed to a very nice woman standing behind a very high counter. When I showed her the permit said Wild Roses, she said, without hesitation or humility, "Well, Mr. Bushel, we took the liberty of correcting your poor spelling." The words Wild Roes had appeared on planning board agendas, on letterheads, on blueprints, on e-mail messages, and many a check. Yet, when the moment of truth arrived, my nod to history, my attempt at culinary cleverness, my homage to my dear, departed mother was reduced to a misspelling.

"How can we resolve this?" I asked.

This very nice bureaucrat said, "Now that Wild Roses is in the system, it’s almost impossible to change.” She paused. "It might be easier to change the name of your company."

· Planning Boards and the Audacity of Change [NYT]
· All Start-Up Chronicle Coverage [CH]