Murf’s Backstreet Tavern Sold for $3.1 Million

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Murf's Tavern on Division Street in Sag Harbor.

The mood was more celebratory than somber late Saturday night into Sunday morning at Murf’s Backstreet Tavern, which served its last “last call” just before 2 a.m. amid rumors the bar had been sold.

Sag Harbor resident Zoe Lindstrom-Ives, who has been a regular there for years, said she had expected to “walk into something solemn and kind of bummed out, but everybody showed up because they wanted to honor the memories they had of being at Murf’s.”

“People were playing guitar and singing along, writing things on the bathroom walls,” she said. “I think everyone at the end of the night, people felt sort of at peace with what was happening. We got our goodbye.”

On Monday, Lee Minetree, a broker with Saunders and Associates Real Estate, confirmed the property is under contract for $3.1 million. He said he could not disclose who is buying the bar, or if its sudden closure Saturday — Murf’s announced on Facebook last Thursday that the weekend would be its last hurrah — was related to the contract.

“I cannot confirm the buyer, but we do have a signed contract,” said Mr. Minetree, who said he expects the deal to close by the end of the year.

He referred all other questions to Jay Hamel, who has owned Murf’s since 2007. Mr. Hamel, who put the tavern on the market for $3.5 million in early August, could not be reached for comment.

By some accounts, Murf’s has had a rough year. The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA), responding to Sag Harbor Village Police reports about alleged disturbances at the tavern, began proceedings to cancel or revoke Mr. Hamel’s liquor license earlier this year. In May, Mr. Hamel agreed to begin closing at 2 a.m., instead of 4 a.m., and paid a $10,000 fine. Murf’s was hit again with another SLA “disorderly” charge in August.

William Crowley, an SLA spokesman, said Wednesday that a hearing had been set for September 21 but, the day before, an attorney representing the tavern “sent us a no contest plea offering that they would terminate the license.”

Mr. Crowley said that, according to state law, the new owner of the tavern would have to apply for his or her own liquor license. The process involves notifying the local municipality 30 days in advance that a proprietor intends to file a new SLA application.

The village received an application from the new owner on September 27 for a new liquor license, said Village Clerk Beth Kamper on Wednesday. The board of trustees may review it as early as October 9.

Ms. Lindstrom-Ives said one of the things special about Murf’s was that it wasn’t fancy — it was a down-to-earth “place for everybody.”

“Everyone from your health teacher to that kid you sat next to in sixth grade to the woman from the post office” were there, she said. “It was like a community, just with alcohol. The thing I’m saddest about is I don’t know if I’ll be able to see that exact thing in this place again.”

Ms. Lindstrom-Ives wished Mr. Hamel well.

“You could always tell there was no place he’d rather be than Murf’s,” she said. “He deserves to sit on a beach somewhere and drink a cocktail. He’s earned it.”

In another development involving downtown real estate, an assemblage of parcels in Sag Harbor with frontage on Main, Division and Washington streets is in contract for sale and has been “for some time,” Mr. Minetree, its broker, confirmed Tuesday.

The property includes a vacant lot and the stores Blooming Shells and Near Main on Washington Street; the Scarlet Rose salon and a frame two-story house on Division Street; and the Scrimshaw Building at 83 Main Street that contains on the first floor Palm Produce Resort Wear, the Adornments jewelry shop and Ethel + Row children’s clothing store and what appear to be apartments upstairs, as well as the building that houses b.b. balsam and Country Lane.

Mr. Minetree declined to give the proposed purchase price or identify the buyer, except to say it was a limited liability corporation and he expected a closing in 30 to 60 days. The property was listed for just under $12 million.

With reporting by Peter Boody.

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