Southern Soul on the Shore

Words by Emma Crist

Illustrations by Kristen Solecki

 

I always knew I’d start Buddy’s. I just thought it would be Buddy’s Burger, Buddy’s Barber Shop, or some real old-school place back in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.”

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Sam Masters is making a lifelong dream come true, albeit in a different form than he first imagined.

Sam is the pioneer behind a one-of-a-kind mobile cart providing curated Southern foods to the Hamptons. Buddy’s Southern Grocery, named after Sam’s grandfather and great-grandfather, has been a dream in the making for years for the NYC-based art director and Alabama native.

To fully appreciate Buddy’s, you have to know Sam.

Born and raised in Gadsden, Alabama, and a graduate of the University of Alabama, Sam is Southern through and through. Not long after graduation, he relocated to New York to pursue a career in art and design. He’s been in New York eight years now, but his Southern roots still hold firm.

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By day, he’s a successful art director for Lela Rose, a luxury women’s clothier. After hours, he’s a high-brow foodie, avid entertainer, and impeccable Southern-style cook.

“Everything about Southern food has soul. I love the story of it as much as I do the taste and flavor. It’s always someone’s grandmother’s recipe,” Sam muses.

When hosting friends for dinner, brunch, or cocktails, he constantly found himself wishing for particular Southern foodstuffs—his favorite barbecue sauces, cocktail mixes, and real Southern biscuits. “New York has everything. You’d think you could find good Southern food,” Sam explains. But he couldn’t. So each time he visited home, he’d stock up on his favorite delicacies. That’s how the idea for Buddy’s was sparked.

Sam already spent most of his summer weekends in the Hamptons, the vacation spot of choice for city dwellers to unwind from Manhattan’s rush. And with the rise in popularity of food trucks and mobile carts, it all came together quickly. He had the New York City Pedicab Service customize the cart, and then he added a tabletop and awning. There were challenges, even for a food cart in New York City and the Hamptons. “Oh my god. It was a lot. I’m crazy. I don’t sleep much. I’m a creative mind—I do my best when I’m running ragged.”  

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Before his grocery cart was stocked, Sam searched for items that were personal to him but not available in the Hamptons. In fact, many of the products he carries are only retailed at Buddy’s outside of their home location. “Every retailer I talked to loved the idea and felt so grateful to be a part of such a hand-selected list. I’m pretty sure the owner of one store just boxes everything up herself and personally carries it out to FedEx for me,” Sam says, laughing. The kind of support Sam received was overwhelming, but it is no surprise to anyone raised below the Mason-Dixon.

Beachgoers to the Hamptons can find Sam in Amagansett most Saturdays and Sundays this summer. He’ll be stocked with last year’s favorites—hot sauce, jams and preserves, barbecue sauce, snacks, Bloody Mary mix, and pickled accoutrements—plus several new Buddy’s-branded items. The one he’s most excited about? “I’m going to serve a limited amount of fresh biscuits each morning and call them Buddy’s Biscuits.”

As for the future, he’s staying mobile this summer but hopes to eventually have his own storefront—maybe even a pop-up shop in the city.