In today's day and age, it's unusual for a small start-up restaurant to be run by a local couple with no prior experience. In addition to providing good food and drinks, at fair prices, we have endeavored to revive the spirit and multiple roles that this historic venue has provided to the Springs community since 1934. A BIG thank you to all of our customers ( and future customers! ) for allowing us to make a dream come true. You can read about the history of our beloved location below.
Ma' and Pa' Hamptons
A Tavern has been operating, more or less continually, at this location since 1934. Originally opened as The Jungle Inn, the bar was operated by owner Pete Federico and his wife, Nina, who managed the kitchen duties in the back. Because Fort Pond Boulevard was largely undeveloped with a particularly dense population of old-growth trees, Pete thought it resembled a jungle, hence the name. Over time Pete Federico became known as Jungle Pete as the bar grew in popularity and later changed the name to what all the locals called it anyway, Jungle Pete’s.
For quite a while, beer was the only alcoholic beverage served at Jungle Pete’s. At that time a 12 ounce glass of beer and a burger were 5 cents each. Shortly before the US entry into WW II, liquors and other spirits were added to the menu with wine being added post-war after so many local veterans returned from Europe with a newly acquired taste for it.
The original building, which burned to the ground in 1944 and was rebuilt into the establishment you find yourself in today, had a large dance floor with tables along the perimeter walls and a smallish bar on the north end. Each Saturday night the place would become full of regular patrons (and their children in pajamas at times) around 8pm so that they could procure a good table. Music started promptly at 9pm with dancing straight through till 3am. Music and the gathering of the local community, which had provided such a haven of comfort and entertainment for the families of those gone off to war in the forties, continued to be a big part of the tavern for many years. The sense of local community, in particular, remains a significant part of what is The Springs Tavern today.
After ‘Jungle’ Pete Federico’s passing, Nina continued to run the place until selling it in the 1972. Renamed Jungle Johnnie's, after a new owner, the bar has also been known as Vinnie's Place, the Boatswain, the Frigate, the Birches, Harry's Hideaway, Wolfie's, and, finally, The Springs Tavern in 2017.
By far the most storied portion of the tavern’s history occurred during the mid 40’s to mid 50’s with the arrival of neighbor and daily regular, Jackson Pollock. It’s well documented that Pollock spent nearly every night here from the late 40’s up until his fatal auto accident on Springs Fireplace Road in August 1956. In fact, if you look closely, you can see an homage to ‘Jack the Dripper’ in the current logo of The Springs Tavern. During this period The Springs Tavern (or Jungle Pete’s as it was known back then) was a gathering spot for the growing artist and ‘beatnik’ community. Jackson Pollock was known to ride his bike from his house and studio down the road on Springs Fireplace to the bar where he would hold court until closing and then ride home. (Although his friends tell of many a night when he would not quite make it home and chose to sleep it off in the woods off the side of Fort Pond Boulevard) Jackson’s friends, and their friends, mixed freely and comfortably with the local bay men and ‘bubs’, for the most part.
Around this same time other artists, musicians and philosophers of the day flocked to the bar including Willem de Kooning and Lee Krasner (wife of Pollock). Artists Howard Kanovitz and Larry Rivers played horns in the house band at The Tavern with composer Morty Feldman regularly. This tavern was even featured prominently in the John Updike novel Seek My Faceunder the pseudonym The Lemon Tree. (Seek My Face is a work of fiction largely based on the lives of Jackson Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner.)
During this period, the three best-known ‘Beat Generation’ hangouts in the Hamptons were Jungle Pete’s (The Springs Tavern) with Pollock and his crowd, Bobby Van’s in Bridgehampton where Truman Capote and John Knowles often listened to a young Bob Dylan and Dustin Hoffman. And Baron’s Cove Inn in Sag Harbor, where John Steinbeck and his wife would meet up regularly with all of the above, comprised the third leg in a regular bar/restaurant circuit that so many of those legendary artists called home. Kurt Vonnegut, Warren Brandt, James Jones, John Knowles, Jack Kerouac and Roy Lichtenstein were also regular attendees within this trio of Hamptons watering holes. Alas, (the original) Baron’s Cove Inn no longer exists, and Bobby Van’s moved across the street to their ‘new’ location since those heady days, but The Springs Tavern still remains pretty much unchanged.
The Springs Tavern was, to the Beat Generation, what the Bitter End was to the Folk Music scene or what the Fillmore was to Rock & Roll!