- Photography by Ms Martien Mulder
It's the morning after Independence Day in Montauk. The once sleepy fishing village's apotheosis into Long Island's answer to Ibiza kicked into overdrive five years ago with the opening of The Surf Lodge. But the title of reigning hot spot now belongs to Mr Lincoln Pilcher's beach bar, Moby's. After debuting in Montauk last year as Moby Dick's, it has popped up again this summer (minus the Dick's) in nearby Amagansett.
"It's been a crazy five-day party out here," says Mr Pilcher, 32, in a hoarse Australian accent that betrays a few late nights, his long hair wet after a head-clearing surf. It was Moby's first big weekend of the season after an adrenaline-fuelled race against time to get it open. But the vital signs are strong. "The food was good, the place looks amazing, all in all it's been a very successful opening."
Later today, just like everyone else, Mr Pilcher will return to the city to work. Except his work is running another alfresco bar which he's also just opened for the summer called Champagne Charlie in the garden of the High Line Hotel in Chelsea.
For the past couple of months Mr Pilcher and his fellow Australian business partner Mr Nick Hatsatouris, have been working hard to get these seasonal pop-ups off the ground. Mr Pilcher also has a restaurant in Los Angeles called Eveleigh and Ruby's in New York with another Aussie, Mr Nick Mathers. If there is a unifying feel to these otherwise quite different spaces it is their laid-back atmosphere. "We've tried to import a Sydney sensibility - it tends to translate well."
I work better with an opening-day target and a quick turnaround. Pop-ups are very of the moment right now. People like them because they're new and fresh
Mr Pilcher is the curator - bringing all the different elements together. "My focus is the creative: the concept, interiors, branding, logos." When he first moved to New York in 1999 at the age of 18, it was to further his burgeoning modelling career. While travelling the world working for the likes of Ralph Lauren and J.Crew among others, he developed more of an interest in being behind the lens rather than in front of it. "Modelling was really just a way to earn money and meet photographers," he says. So he trained as a fashion photographer - a world that was already very familiar to him and in which he has strong contacts.
His mother, Nancy, is considered fashion royalty back in Oz having been editor of Vogue Australia for 28 years before becoming vice president of Condé Nast Asia Pacific's editorial development division, and latterly editorial director at large at Condé Nast Publications Asia Pacific. Mr Pilcher grew up surrounded by fashion photographers and top models, which perhaps explains his comfort in their company. His long-term girlfriend is the US supermodel Ms Carolyn Murphy, 40 next month, whom he has photographed for several glossy magazine covers, often working with his sister, the renowned stylist Ms Morgan Pilcher.
Meanwhile it was his father who taught him the practical skills needed to launch a new venue on a tight deadline. "Dad was in interior design and construction so I learnt to be pretty handy with a power drill. I've been wearing a tool belt for the last month out here," Mr Pilcher says. "I work better with an opening-day target and a quick turnaround. Pop-ups are very of the moment right now. People like them because they're new and fresh."
The laid-back atmosphere out here does mirror what I grew up with but with the buzz of New York so close, for me it's the best of both worlds. I love the combination of city and beach life
Having launched a number of venues, Mr Pilcher and his partners believe they have hit on a winning formula. "We have worked out what people want. The secret is simplicity," he says. "You don't need to have a menu with 50 dishes on it or a wine list with 200 wines. There's just eight things on the menu at Moby's but they are eight fantastic things." Whole black seabass straight out of the water, a steak, two pizzas, two pastas, two salads. "There isn't an extensive wine list but they are all good wines." The rosé is literally on tap. "And then there is creating the vibe - and that is a combination of the people, the environment, and the food. It's all about a lifestyle." Sitting in a tree swing, looking down the lawn out to the water at sunset, glass in hand, life feels pretty good.
Once again, Mr Pilcher is able to draw upon his Sydney upbringing in knowing how to generate the right atmosphere. "My parents would entertain every weekend," he explains. "We would have these beautiful big lunches on the deck."
In many ways Amagansett and Montauk in high season feel similar to the well-to-do communities of Sydney's northern beaches and Pittwater where Mr Pilcher was raised. "The laid-back lifestyle out here does mirror what I grew up with but with the buzz of New York so close, for me it's the best of both worlds. I love the combination of city and beach life."
Although Mr Pilcher returns to Sydney regularly to see friends and family, he feels very at home in the US. "Being Australian has been a huge advantage. People here like the Aussies for their have-a-crack attitude, good work ethic, directness and get-up-and-go approach," he says. "But just as importantly if not more so, we also know how to enjoy ourselves." As if to prove the point, he looks at his watch, then at his board and grins. There's time for one more surf before he hits the road.
Words by Mr Dan Rookwood, US Editor, MR PORTER