Flatbread brings back the music this summer

Islander Tina Miller, the new managing partner of Flatbread, is working on bringing music back to the Island establishment this summer. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Flatbread, the wood-fired, open-oven pizza restaurant that uses all natural ingredients, opens for its fourth season on Thursday, May 16, with a new manager and a new modus operandi that promises to resurrect the location’s storied musical heritage.

And on Saturday evening, Flatbread will host a free party to celebrate its opening with the local bands Good Night Louise and Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish starting at 8 pm.

In a press release, Tina Miller of West Tisbury, the new managing partner, announced the addition of a regular schedule of live music and entertainment, including nationally known acts. She plans to have live music two or three nights a week.

“We think bringing music back will make a lot of people happy. There was quite a backlash last year when there was no music,” Ms. Miller said in a conversation with The Times. “We will be bringing in acts from off-Island as well as on-Island. There is so much great talent on the Island.”

She pointed out that Flatbread will manage both the food and music sides of the business unlike previous years when Flatbread ran the food side and Nectar’s, a Vermont-based company, managed the entertainment.

Ms. Miller said she will be working with other producers to keep the music playing, including local musician and promoter Phil DaRosa from The Print Shop and Nectar’s Presents, which will bring in Richie Spice and the All Spice Band on June 5, NRBQ on July 21, and Maceo Parker on August 2.

On Sunday afternoons during the summer, Flatbread will continue its Back Yard Boogie featuring local bands outside in the back, and on Wednesdays from 5 until 7 pm, Mona Rosenthal will host the Family Dance-O-Rama, a popular event for children and families.

Ms. Miller said Flatbread will continue its tradition of weekly benefit nights starting Thursday, May 23, with a benefit for the M.V. Arena. A benefit concert with Ben Taylor & Friends for the M.V. Skate Park will be announced at a later date.

As in past years, Flatbread’s mobile oven will be at various Island events during the summer such as The Taste of the Vineyard, Meals in the Meadow, and the Ag Fair, as well as at private parties.

Flatbread is the latest inhabitant of a building that became a center of Vineyard nightlife as The Hot Tin Roof when a group of Islanders, George Brush, Herb Putnam and singer Carly Simon, built the nightclub in 1979.

“The Roof,” as it was known, hosted well-known entertainers both on its stage and on the dance floor as Saturday Night Live cast members Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, and Bill Murray made it one of their Island hangouts and musicians like The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards were sometimes spotted in the crowd.

The luster faded over time as The Roof fell on economic hard times. A sale in 1986 to Islander Peter Martell resulted in bankruptcy after several years. An attempt to resurrect The Roof in 1995 by Carly Simon and a formidable list of investors sputtered out by 2001 when it was put up for sale.

In 2006, brothers Barry Rosenthal of West Tisbury and Arthur Rosenthal of Wellesley purchased The Roof and operated the nightclub Outerland there for three years. Nectar’s leased the space from the Rosenthals in 2009 and Flatbread purchased the legendary site in 2012.

Martha’s Vineyard Flatbread is one of eleven pizza restaurants, mostly in New England with one in Maui and one in Whistler, B.C. Flatbread opened its first pizza shop in Amesbury in 1998.

Flatbread has a tried and true recipe for success that uses organic and locally grown vegetables. There will not be any significant change in the menu, according to Ms. Miller, who has a long history of involvement in the Island food business. Her focus will include plans to create a regular schedule of both local and off-Island bands and entertainers to revive the nightlife of Flatbread’s predecessors.

Ms. Miller left her position as director of ad sales at The Vineyard Gazette last year to take her new job. She said she is excited to bring a local touch to Flatbread. Before taking the position at the Gazette, she was general manager of the now defunct local cable channel Plum TV for almost five years.

The mother of two teeage sons and wife of Steve Gallagher, Ms. Miller is an experienced restaurateur: From 1989 to 1992, she owned and ran the Road House Restaurant, at the site of the current State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury. She then sharpened her cooking skills at a culinary school in France before cooking in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. She opened and ran the original Moxie Restaurant in Vineyard Haven from 1998 until 2001, worked as a private chef on the Island for several years, and wrote a cookbook called “Vineyard Harvest,” highlighting Vineyard food producers, before taking the Plum TV job.

Ms. Miller’s father, Alan Miller, is a part of Island lore. He built The Black Dog Tavern and ran it for its maiden years, and now owns the Key West destination restaurant Pepe’s.