Few collectors have as much enthusiasm for vintage goods as Bob Melet. Formerly the director of vintage buying at Ralph Lauren, Melet opened his showroom, Melet Mercantile, in New York's SoHo in the early 2000s (76 Franklin St.; 212-925-8353; meletmercantile.com). Since then, the space, with its picturesque displays of military wear, Americana, and ethnographic artifacts, has attracted creatives from every corner—set designers, stylists, photographers, historians, and more. His seasonally Montauk outpost (102 Industrial Rd.; 631-668-9080; meletmercantile.com), plus a boutique at the Crow's Nest Hotel (4 Old West Lake Dr.; 631-668-2077; meletmercantile.com), are no less impressive. But it's his annual July 4th Epic Yard Sale, hosted at his home on the farthest reaches of the East End, that draws crowds (Cynthia Rowley and Waris Ahluwalia are fans). Here, Melet turns his curatorial eye to Montauk, a place he's been spending the summer for 16 years, sharing his insider knowledge about where to go and what to do, as only this Hamptons “forever person” can.
What neighborhood do you live in and how long have you lived there? My family and I live in Ditch Plains neighborhood. I met my wife in the summer of 1995. She was a local and rented the house for several years. We were able to purchase it from the original owners about 15 years ago. It's also the location of our annual epic yard sale every 4th of July weekend.
Where do you put up friends visiting town? Definitely the Crow's Nest Hotel & Restaurant. It's an amazing property. The chef John Yashinowsky (aka Yaz) has created a very tasty and Summer appropriate menu (4 Old West Lake Dr.; 631-668-2077; crowsnestmtk.com).
What is your favorite restaurant to take visitors? The Dock. Everything they make is great. I recommend the mussels. All the seafood comes directly off Montauk's docks (482 W. Lake Dr.; 631-668-9778; thedockmontauk.com).
Where can you find the best cocktails? Beer list? Wine list? Shagwong's, with drinks mixed by Peter Hewitt, aka Uncle Pete (774 Montauk Hwy.; 631-668-3050). Montauk Brewing Co.—best beer! (62 S. Erie Ave.; 631-668-8471; montaukbrewingco.com)
Where would you choose to splurge on a night out? Formerly Dave's Grill, now Dave's Gone Fishing, on East Lake Dr. Everything Dave's creates is amazing and always a treat (467 E. Lake Dr.; 631-668-9190; davesgrill.com).
What is your go-to after-hours bar? Liars. If you find yourself there 3 consecutive nights in a row, you may want to consider rehab. Truly one of Montauk's most fun institutions (401 W. Lake Dr.; 631-668-9597).
What’s the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon in town? Easy. Go to the beach and enjoy the mighty Atlantic Ocean. And when you have had enough sun, go to Melet Mercantile at 102 Industrial Road and discover a significant find.
What is your Sunday morning routine in your neighborhood? Coffee from the Ditch Witch at the Ditch Plains Beach (40 Deforest Rd.). Sitting on the bench with locals prognosticating the waves, politics, the prior nights antics and general b***s**t.
Where is the best brunch? Go to East Hampton. Montauk is not a brunch town. It's a beach town. But if you want a great breakfast or lunch go to Joni's (34 South Etna Plz., #9; 631-668-3663; jonismontauk.com) or Naturally Good (779 Montauk Hwy.; 631-668-9030; naturallygoodfoodsandcafe.com). Both offer very good eats.
Where do you go for the perfect cup of coffee? I like the Bakery. This is a much debated local thing. At the end of the day I go to the Bakery (29 The Plaza #A; 631-668-2439; montaukbakeshoppe.com).
What’s your favorite view in town (that tourists might not know about)? The Montauket Bar at sunset overlooking the Fort Pond Bay (88 Firestone Rd.; 631-668-5992). The cleanest deep water port in America. It was the original down town of Montauk until the 1938 hurricane. The U.S. Navy also moored dirigibles here during WWII. It's truly beautiful way to spend sunset overlooking the bay.
What’s your favorite path or trail to follow on a walk? Shadmoor Cliffs. The cliffs overlooking Ditch Plains Beach all the way to town. A great hike (900 Montauk Hwy.; nysparks.com).
What are your favorite offbeat cultural attractions? Deep Hollow Ranch, America's oldest cattle ranch. Teddy Roosevelt and the rough riders rode here. Exploring the trails of Theodore Roosevelt County Park on horse back. Adios Sportfishing with Captain Skip (631-668-5760; adiosboat.com). Take a charter boat for 1/2 day or full day fishing. Captain Skip will find you fish! He's the best.
What’s your favorite shop or boutique? Melet Mercantile Outpost and Boutique at Crow's Nest. Cynthia Rowley (696 Montauk Hwy.; 631-668-8077; cynthiarowley.com). Martine & Juan (805 Main St.; 917-445-3596; martineandjuan.com). All the above offer a great perspective of Montauk living.
What’s the ultimate souvenir from your town—something you can only get there? The local butcher, Herbs market has the best t-shirt in town and has for many years. It reads "You Can't Beat Herbs Meat" (778 Montauk Hwy.; 631-668-2335; herbsmontaukmarket.com).
What’s the best-kept local secret? I won't tell you.
Image Credit: Julie Marcley / Dave's Gone Fishing
In our Hometown Guides series, we're seeking the best restaurants, bars, vistas, and things to do in a given place from the people who know best—the artists, designers, chefs, and store-owners who live there. See more Hometown Guides »