Restoring The Surf Club On The Sound
How Tony Martello renewed a dilapidated Sound property.
Before Tony Martello took over the Surf Club on the Sound last December, it had fallen into disrepair. Due to a rundown space and spotty service, the Surf Club suffered from a poor reputation, despite its location on seven idyllic acres of beachfront property along the Long Island Sound in New Rochelle. But, in three steps, Martello was able to turn it all around.
1. Restoring the look and feel: “We did a walk-through of the entire place, and the other owner basically let it fall apart,” Martello says. “So we picked up all the bits and pieces.” That included a $2-million restoration of the space—from cleaning the kitchen to repainting and re-carpeting the two dining rooms and adding new landscaping outside.
2. Focusing on service: Martello hired a new staff (after firing the entire former staff), while adding presentation touches like having the staff wear tuxedos for events, affecting a “Manhattan feel,” says Martello. And to bring the focus to the quality of the food, he hired a new executive chef, Culinary Institute of America grad Teodoro Profita.
3. Fixing the reputation: With the event industry being a largely word-of-mouth business, the restored space and new focus on better service helped to turn the club's reputation around—replacing once-negative Yelp postings into rave reviews. To help with the new image, Martello chose to re-brand as the “New Surf Club on the Sound.” While it may seem like a tiny change, he says it makes a world of difference in distinguishing him from the previous owner.