Good times rolling again at Lola's

By Julian Wise - April 13, 2006

(From left) Debbie Peters, Trina Bell, and Brenda Denham on hand for last weekend's opening of Lola's in Oak Bluffs. Photos by Ralph Stewart

Lola's is back. After a winter period of renovation and retooling, Lola's reopened last Saturday, April 8, with an upbeat party atmosphere that chased away the chill and gloom of a rainy spring night.

Everything that is right about Lola's, and that earned it an Editor's Choice in the 2004 Yankee Magazine Travel Guide to New England, remains intact, yet Paul and Lola Dimitrovich have added a few new wrinkles. The menu, once split between pub and dining offerings, has been merged into one offering. Customers can still savor tempura fried coconut shrimp, mussels a la Lola, jambalaya, blackened catfish, and other mouth-watering specialties. The room that once served as a bar, music lounge, and dining room has been cleared of tables and is now a dedicated music/dance space.

Between supervising the kitchen and greeting familiar customers, Ms. Dimitrovich surveyed the new space and said, "Because of the Atlantic Connection closing, I figured we might as well expand the whole room."

Ms. Dimitrovich said the alterations will maintain Lola's stature as a destination for mature patrons. "I'm excited," she said. "I'm maintaining our over-30 crowd who like to dance. It's not just kids who like to dance."

As Mr. and Ms. Dimitrovich commence their 13th year as restauranteurs on Martha's Vineyard (previously they had two restaurants in Manhattan), they retain the flexibility necessary to keep a locale fresh and vital. "Change is good," Ms. Dimitrovich said. "People fight change. You have to change with the times. It keeps it exciting."

Felicia Taylor on stage at Lola's.

Inside the expanded music room, Felicia Taylor was leading a four-piece band through a set of disco and funk classics. Patrons danced to the chestnuts "Get Down Tonight," "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," "Good Times," and "Prince's Kiss." An array of free appetizers laid out on tables along the wall featured savory spare ribs, crispy chicken wings, Caesar salad, and cornbread. The mature crowd had a festive, relaxed feel as patrons took to the dance floor for un-selfconscious dancing.

Debbie Peters, visiting from West Virginia, took a break from dancing to remark, "It feels very alive here tonight. It's very vibrant, alive, happening."

Trina Bell, visiting from Marietta, Ohio, concurred. "I love Lola's," Ms. Bell said. "I came three years ago. It's a great atmosphere. The music is always good."

Brenda Dedham of Edgartown shouted over the music, "I'm so happy Lola's is open. It's the season again."

Julian Wise is a frequent contributor to The Times, specializing in music, film, and the performing arts.