The couple behind American Beech and the transformation of Stirling Square
Brent Pelton, left, and Alex Vinash in Stirling Square, the Greenport property they’ve transformed in recent years. (Credit: David Benthal)
Generally, it may or may not be true that opposites attract. But that’s certainly true in the case of Greenport couple Brent Pelton and Alex.
Vinash. Pelton, the hotelier behind American Beech, and Vinash, a fashion designer, have combined their respective talents to transform the once-neglected assemblage of historic storefronts that make up Stirling Square into a district hub of shops, bars and restaurants.
“I have to give Alex stability and balance. He has this amazing creativity and energy and is a lot of fun with an infectious personality, ”Pelton said. “I am capable of getting things done. I think we both really love what we do when we work together.
Vinash agrees, “Our dynamic is a yin-yang, which I think is very important because I couldn’t be with someone exactly like me. It would be boring. “It would be a disaster! Pelton clarified.
Pelton had little experience in commercial property development when he bought Stirling Square in 2014. A Manhattan lawyer, he was immediately won over by the waterfront village of Greenport on his first visit and started spending weekends. ends in the east more and more frequently. Instead of renting a house by the sea, Pelton decided to put down roots. After closing the square, he immediately set to work revitalizing the old apartments in what is now American beech.
Meanwhile, Vinash, then living in Barcelona, was in New York for fashion week. A trip that was supposed to take two weeks lasted nearly a month, and Vinash eventually found himself in a Starbucks, searching for sublets online. The two had chatted throughout Vinash’s visit, and Pelton reached out as Vinash searched the coffee chain for an apartment. They finally met, and the rest is history. “We had a good date and Alex never took the flight home,” Pelton said.
On the first renovation, Vinash and Pelton had just met, so the fashion designer left most of the work to his new beau. ” I did not know [Brent] well enough again to say, ‘We should do this or that,’ so I was just there for the ride at the start, ”Vinash said.
More recently, however, Vinash hasn’t been able to help but bring his own take on the space, which is clearly visible in recent renovations to the hotel’s restaurant and lobby. “I was from Ibiza, so my idea of a beach is completely different,” he said. “The first renovation was too bright for me. It was too Hampton-y and everything was very polite. I don’t think people want to come to a bar and be primitive. He had to have more soul; I thought Greenport needed something more tropical.
Vinash, who often dresses Billy Porter, owes his eclectic design signatures to a decade of nomadic living. He started his career as a figure skater, leaving his home country Argentina at the age of 19 to compete in Europe. For 14 years he performed in a traveling ice show, spending nine months a year jumping from town to town. After turning 30, Vinash began to consider his next move. He had learned a lot about clothing and fabrics during his athletic career and started out making costumes for skaters in Barcelona, eventually creating bodysuits and leotards which were featured in Vogue and Vanity Fair. Vinash then made fashion his full-time focus, creating ready-to-wear and red carpet-worthy dresses.
Now these designs are featured in Vinash’s own Greenport store. Both lounge and shopping, the boutique welcomes guests staying at the American Beech Hotel as well as shoppers on Main Street in Greenport. The designer’s roots are evident in the store’s design: a warm mix of plush fabrics, concrete arches, exposed beams, and lush greenery. A waterfall in the middle of the room transports visitors to a tropical getaway, regardless of the weather outside. “You immediately have the impression of being on vacation. My clothes feel like this too, ”Vinash said. “I have nothing basic; everything has a little something, a little fun.
When collaborating on the store, it was important for Vinash and Pelton to mix the old with the new. The floors are original, as are the beams. “They have a lot of soul,” Vinash said. “You have a bit of the history of the city. It’s a great reminder of what was here before. Preserving Greenport’s history and creating a community gathering space was a priority for the duo during the renovations. Vinash likens the square to a park, where residents and visitors gather to dine, shop, or just take a stroll. Pelton enjoys the relaxed village lifestyle and the proximity to the water. For him, it was the perfect escape from the city. “I really fell in love with the place,” he said. “I thought Greenport was really special and I’m happy to have [purchased Stirling Square]. It’s not a quick or easy project, but it was worth it.
The two also work extensively with the local CAST charity in their efforts to serve low-income residents of North Fork. American Beech is a major sponsor of CAST’s CAST film series this summer, and Vinash hosted a fashion show to benefit the mission, even featuring Greenport residents as models. “We care about the future of the community, and we want everyone in the community to have as good and fair life as possible,” Pelton said.
In August, American Beech will host the North Fork TV Festival, which attracts creators from across the country to mentor and showcase the work of independent filmmakers. And in addition to Aqua by American Beech – their chic waterfront hotel in Aquebogue – and a cabin property in Vermont, they’re also currently working on opening a hotel in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Above all, the two are eager to welcome their guests again as the restrictions are lifted. “For Mother’s Day it was so much fun to see groups get together with older mothers or grandmothers. You could tell it was their first dinner out in a while, and it was so special to see that moment, ”Pelton said. Vinash also predicts a happier summer on the North Fork. “I haven’t sold that many dresses in the entire time I have a store,” he said. “People are ready to have fun again.”