Meet Your Merchant

From left: chef Dana Rezendes, Jenny Dowd, Doreen Rezendes, and Tony Rezendes in front of their restaurant, The Square-Rigger, in Edgartown.

The Square-Rigger is a traditional New England style restaurant at the triangle in Edgartown, owned and managed by Tony and Doreen Rezendes and their family. Son Dana is the chef, and daughter Jenny Dowd helps manage the front. They specialize in classics like quahog chowder, mussels, stuffed mushrooms, boiled lobster, baked stuffed shrimp, New York strip steak, and prime rib.

The “Rigger” as it is known, serves surf and turf from a menu that has seen little change in over twenty years. “We have a large, vocal clientele who lets us know if we take things off the menu,” said Dana. “Adding new items is difficult because a menu can only be so big before you can’t handle it, and we have one of the biggest menus on the Island.”

“We did add a take out menu three years ago, and we have slowly made small adjustments to the menu,” Dana said. “But there has not been a change in the concept of the menu since we took over the Rigger almost twenty years ago.”

Dana said that his focus has been staying consistent and not getting caught up in the hustle of reworking the menu to fit popular trends. “We are a place where people can find the same thing they ordered last year or the year before.”

Tony worked for the post office and had no restaurant experience when he and Doreen bought the restaurant in 1995 from the previous owner William Holtham. Doreen was managing the Rigger at the time and had managed the dining room at Mr. Holtham’s other Island restaurant, the Homeport in Menemsha. Elder daughter Amy and Dana also got their starts in the restaurant business at the Homeport.

Dana began to work at the Homeport when he was eleven, washing dishes and helping clean up. At fourteen, he was cooking at the takeout line. Six years later, when the family bought the Rigger, he started working as a line cook before moving into the head chef position a few years later.

Jenny Dowd and Doreen manage the front of the restaurant with help from the only non-family member in a management position: Nina Ferry. Jenny is also in charge of the wine list and keeps the shelves stocked with a wide variety of select wines, including good moderately priced wines. Tony fills in wherever he is needed.

Dana said there are always new challenges popping up, usually with employees and customers. “One night a former dishwasher showed up to work wearing nothing but an apron,” he said. “That made us laugh. And there are the situations you find yourself in in the dining room. We had a customer loudly shushing a child at another table, over and over, and yelling at his parents. She told them to tell their child to shut up. You just think, ‘is this really happening? What do we do?’ It just happens. Dealing with people who are drunk and rude to the staff is never fun but we just look back and laugh.”

He said there are new things he would like to try in the kitchen at some point in the future, but he won’t say when or if that will ever happen.

From father to son, and onward.

Long-time employee TJ Giegler, left, poses with Daniel Larsen and Dan Larsen.

edgartown-seafood-market-wide.JPGDaniel Larsen owns and runs Edgartown Seafood Market with the help of his son — Daniel Jr., or Dan, 38 years old — who has been working at the market for 19 years. The market is open 11 months of the year. It sells fresh fish, and during the summer has a takeout menu. Danny, as the elder Mr. Larsen is known, grew up fishing with his dad, the late Chilmark fisherman Louis Larsen, before opening the market in 1986.

Danny Larsen, here in 1970, has been fishing all his life. (Courtesy Trisha Spring).
Danny Larsen, here in 1970, has been fishing all his life. (Courtesy Trisha Spring).

Danny’s sisters, Betsy Larsen and Kristine Scheffer, run Larsen’s Fish Market in Menemsha. His brother Louis owns Net Result in Vineyard Haven, and his cousin Stanley Larsen owns Menemsha Fish Market. The family’s markets are independent of one another. “We are not related by the wallet,” Danny said, “we are only related by the name.”

In a recent interview, Danny spoke to The Times about losing his dad in March and his mother four years ago. “That adds a new dynamic to my life,” he said. “I’m still sortin’ things. We’ve had a lot of help from family and friends. I’m pretty fortunate.”

Danny is a tall, large man — like his dad — and it is often difficult to tell if he is preoccupied or just moody. Ask him a question, though, and you get to hear one of the driest senses of humor around. He has even been known to crack a smile from time to time.

The Times took the chance and asked him a handful of questions.

When you were fishing, what did you fish for?

What did you think we fished for, king crab? I grew up fishing for all the things you go fishin’ for around Martha’s Vineyard: dragging in winter, swordfishing in the summer, scalloping, lobstering, all of it. I fished before it became fashionable to just fish for one kind of fish, when you had to go after everything to make your whole living out of fishing.

Why did you decide to open the market?

Danny (left) and Albert Fisher.
Danny (right) and Albert Fisher.

I needed something to do, and since I had done it with my father since he opened Larsen’s in Menemsha, that’s what made me decide. My dad built his store the year I got out of high school, 1968. We first opened in a garage down the road where the Depot Corner was, and when we got a chance to buy where we are now, we did, in 1994. I try to hire local kids because I think they need jobs. It’s fun to watch them grow up.

Did you go to school after high school?

I was the only kid in the first grade at the Chilmark school. Oh, this is for the paper? I got my law degree from Harvard.

Your son Dan works for you. What does he do there?

He plans to take over quickly, I hope. It’s what’s keeping me hanging on. Retirement has never worked well for my family. I plan to work for Dan. It will be like a role reversal, I’ll get paid to do practically nothing. I’ll just come in to pick up a check. I would like to travel and spend some time with old friends and my six grandkids. I want to see them play little league, watch them grow up.

Do you close for the winter?

Daniel Larsen, left, with his dad, Dan, behind the counter at Edgartown Seafood Market.
Daniel Larsen, left, with his dad, Dan, behind the counter at Edgartown Seafood Market.

People think we close for the winter, but we only close for about a month to clean and make repairs. We stay open until the day after Valentine’s Day and open on St. Patrick’s Day.

What are your bestsellers?

In the summertime we probably sell more swordfish, a lot of lobsters, a lot of everything really.

Do you have any memorable customers?

Oh no, you’re not doing that to me, no way.

Have you had any funny experiences while in business?

Oh, yeah, I’ve had quite a few. But I’m not a squealer.

Do you have any business goals?

Just tryin’ to make a living, no gimmicks, no contests. We are trying the best we can. What else is there? Every day is a new day.

Point B team, left to right: Ezra Sherman, Guinevere Cramer, Valerie Hart, Kristin Buck, Wendy Harman, Win Baker, Cheri Mason.
 Meet Your Merchant Plus is sponsored content. *

Point B Company History

It was a gutsy move, opening a new real estate company during the toughest economic crisis in decades.

Point B Realty Owner/Principal Broker, Wendy Harman.
Point B Realty Owner/Principal Broker, Wendy Harman.

In April 2009, Wendy Harman employed her passion for people, property and professionalism, creating Point B Realty.  Wendy’s faith in Martha’s Vineyard as a magical place, coupled with her commitment to bringing a new set of skills, values and technology to the marketplace paid off:  Today Point B is one of the Island’s top real estate services providers, proving that discerning clients appreciate people who love what they do and do it with unparalleled dedication.

“I thought I was so smart starting my own real estate company but the market crashed within the first thirty days.”

 

A Business Built on Dreams and Talent
Like most businesses conceived by individual entrepreneurs, Point B Realty is the product of Wendy Harman’s dreams and acumen.  A Seattle native, she spent many weekends as a child touring open houses with her mother, who was, as Wendy recalls, “a true real estate and home decorating addict.”  This fascination with all things architectural must have been genetic, as these early forays ultimately translated into Wendy’s own desire to explore every facet of the real estate industry.

“I liked to draw house plans and read decorating magazines as a kid,” she explains. “Real estate lets me pull together so many aspects I enjoy – architecture, history and design as well as the legal and finance aspects of the business.”

Earning a business degree in marketing, Wendy began her career in sales and was soon promoted into a position as a corporate marketing and branding specialist for a regional food company in Seattle.  Employing both her creativity and innovative spirit, she was named Creative Director, spearheading a total redesign of the company’s image and packaging.

“I can trace my entrepreneurial drive to my branding experience in Seattle,” Wendy observes.  “I was considered the maverick, re-gentrifying a brand that had remained almost untouched from the 1940s.”

Wendy brings this love for branding and her commitment to creating a satisfying experience for the consumer to Point B Realty.   And, like so many visitors who eventually become residents, Wendy’s 1992 vacation to Martha’s Vineyard resulted in a dramatic change of course.

“I chose the name Point B for two reasons:  Martha’s Vineyard represents a destination and real estate is also a process, getting from Point A to Point B.”

Vacation Destination to Cherished Home
It was the summer of 1992 when Wendy and a friend randomly chose the Vineyard as a vacation spot for recreational biking.  An inveterate traveler, she had long maintained a policy to never revisit the same destination twice.  “My motto was: The world is big place and there are so many exciting places to visit and experience. Why go back to the same place twice?”

“But I was smitten,” she recalls.  “So I came five summers in a row, made friends and developed a complete network on the Island.”

By June of 1997, Wendy had taken a sabbatical from her corporate job in Seattle and was able to spend a full month on the Vineyard, launching a consulting practice. It was then that she realized that the Island had become her new home.  So she bought a piece of land in Katama and built a house the following year.  In the meantime, she indulged her long simmering entrepreneurial spirit and spearheaded several new ventures, including a Vineyard lifestyle magazine and a travel guide and destination service.  As her publishing business became more Internet based, Wendy enthusiastically embraced new technologies.  And that house she had built in Katama? By the time she sold it in 2002, she had tripled her investment.

Re-bitten by the real estate bug, Wendy earned her real estate license in 2006 and went to work for an Edgartown brokerage.  Specializing in the vacation rental market, she singlehandedly quadrupled the number of properties the company represented.  She left in the fall of 2008 with ideas to open her own real estate brokerage.

“We want to stay small, independent, and focused on quality.”

Overcoming challenges with innovative strategies
If timing is everything then opening Point B Realty in the fall of 2008 should have been calamitous.  “I thought I was so smart starting my own company,” Wendy says, with a chuckle. “But the market crashed within the first thirty days.”

Despite the market downturn, she leased a retail storefront in downtown Edgartown in April of 2009 and filled it with furnishings and art, doing her best to replicate the real estate firms she had admired in metropolitan areas and envisioning a soothing, comfortable environment for the Island’s well-traveled clientele.

“It was a risky move,” she reflects.  “Almost no one in the business had any kind of storefront.  It was a big investment.”

While the recession posed hefty challenges for even the most stalwart of agencies, it proved to be what Wendy looks back on as the acid test for her business model.

“I was a one-person shop in the beginning,” she says.  “And starting in a down market, I had to be resourceful.”

Using her successful vacation rental business as a foundation, within five years Wendy has built Point B into a dynamic twelve-person operation, with six sales agents and six support professionals offering a unique team approach.  Backed by a staff of administrative and marketing specialists, all agents handle both rentals and sales, providing seamless service to clients, many of whom transition from vacation tenants to homeowners.  And each agent works as part of a team, combining complementary skills for every unique client situation.

“We’re one of the only firms in which agents are responsible for both rentals and sales,” Wendy explains.  “It allows everyone to prosper and encourages our clients to enjoy ongoing relationships with the same staff.  Having a team of corporate support staff who specialize in specific areas also gives Point B agents a sharper focus on clients and their individual needs.”

The company prides itself on providing clear representation to clients in every transaction as well.  As advocates of the designated agency model, Point B clarifies what has traditionally been a perplexing question to many consumers:  “Who is my agent really representing, the buyer or the seller?”  Point B agents never represent both buyers’ and sellers’ interests in a single transaction, ensuring that an individual’s needs are met ethically, confidentially and with transparent fiduciary responsibility.

“I read the Harvard Business Review, not novels.  It keeps me fresh, forward-thinking.”

Top-notch talent, today’s technology
Point B’s highly experienced staff puts cutting edge technology to work for every client.  Embracing the paperless office concept, the company offers the convenience of electronic document signing, expediting the signing, management and storage of contracts, moving all parties toward closing quickly and efficiently.

In-house state-of-the-art video and photography services help present listings in their best light possible.  Finally, armed with iPads in the field, agents can shoot photos, take notes, review listings of comparable properties and share information with clients almost instantaneously, a significant benefit to buyers and sellers, particularly those whose primary residences are off-Island.

But as invaluable as technology can be, real estate is, at heart, a people business.  As an independent boutique firm, Point B is committed to maintaining a small, highly expert staff that shares the core values of integrity, open communication and responsiveness.

“We’re not about being average,” Wendy states unequivocally.  “We’re about being awesome.”

“Point B is ahead of the curve with technology.”

Calculated choices are the best choices
Wendy has become a specialist in the financial analysis of real estate transactions.  Leading her company with a practiced eye toward the bottom line, she admits that perhaps her greatest strength is the least glamorous:  “I’m a numbers geek,” she says.  “I’m fascinated by the story that the numbers can tell and quite frankly, I analyze them to death.  I love finding answers to tough transactions by analyzing market and property data, and then using that information to help educate clients and bring together a successful transaction. Our job is to help the client understand the complexity of this multi-dimensional business.”

From identifying the best investment opportunities to ensuring that a rental property is priced properly for the market, Point B helps clients make sound financial decisions.

“The Island gives me a sense of being held.  It’s part of our corporate culture to give back.”

Commitment to the Island community

Wendy Harman at the Boys & Girls Club, donating a $10,000 Fundraiser check.
Wendy Harman at the Boys & Girls Club, donating a $10,000 Fundraiser check.

Living and working in a small Island community, Point B has become an enthusiastic proponent of giving back.  “There’s such a great heartbeat on Martha’s Vineyard,” Wendy explains.  “It’s the kind of place where you want to get involved.”

The company has embraced the concept of serving as a bridge between the year-round community and the newcomers who arrive, encouraging support from homeowners and vacationers alike. From simply making corporate donations to such organizations as the FARM Institute and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, to initiating their own annual holiday fundraiser, the “Teddy Bear Suite” at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown, benefitting the Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club, Point B is making it a point to make a difference.

“We maintain a commitment to doing the right thing for the client.”

Looking ahead

“We’re always looking at improving the quality of service we provide to our clients,” Wendy says.  “This is, after all, a relationship business.  We demand more of our agents and keep trying to perfect what we’re doing.”

More communication.  More education.  More efficiency.  More expertise.  Because when it comes to results in real estate, it’s all about getting from point A to Point B.

“You learn a lot starting a business in a down market.  You have to be very resourceful.”

*The Times is partnering with merchants to highlight their stories. Meet Your Merchant Plus is paid advertising.

Owner Robert Colacray poses on his boat, Mad Max, which has not only comfortable seating outside but also a roomy indoor cabin. — Photo by Michael Cummo

In 20 years of sailing, the 60-foot catamaran Mad Max has carried over 100,000 passengers, averaging 5,000 a season, according to the boat’s owner, Robert Colacray.

Docked in Edgartown harbor, Mad Max is a state-of-the-art catamaran, a sailing boat consisting of two parallel hulls. Its mast towers 70 feet above a spacious deck which is almost 1,500 square feet, 60 feet long and 25 feet wide. “It was crafted for adventure with passenger safety and comfort in mind,” said Mr. Colacray. “The twin hulls are engineered to create smooth and graceful movement across the water.” The boat can carry as many as 49 passengers.

“We are proud of our safety record; we haven’t lost anyone,” he said. “We have helped create memorable moments for many people. I love to hear passengers say, ‘This is the best thing I have done here on the Vineyard.’ You get a totally different perspective of the Island from the water.”

Mad-max-full-sail.JPGMad Max sets sail twice a day at 2 pm and 6 pm for two-hour trips. On a good day with a southwest breeze, Mr. Colacray said the Mad Max can sail to Oak Bluffs and back. Another popular route is to follow Chappaquiddick out to Cape Poge, taking in the beautiful sights along the way.

Mad Max is also available for private charters for up to 49 passengers. The boat has its own marina in the harbor where other boats can dock.

Mr. Colacray started sailing when he was a student at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. “My first boat, appropriately, was a small catamaran, a Hobie 16,” he said. “I would sail it off the beaches of Malibu. It was wet and exciting launching through the surf and riding them back in.”

He later moved up to a Bristol 29′ which allowed him to sail to the Channel Islands off the southern California coast, and later, as he gained experience, from Los Angeles to San Francisco singlehanded. He was lucky, he said, to have some good teachers and mentors along the way.

While on the West Coast, Mr. Colacray got his captain’s license, after six months of study. When he returned home to the east coast he worked in the business world for about 10 years, saving enough money to buy a 35-foot sailboat.

One summer he got an itch to try something new and sailed to Edgartown. He docked at the Harborside marina and put up a plywood sign that read, “Sailing Charters.” Before too long he was taking up to six people out four times a day.

Each fall he would sail the boat down to Key West, where he continued to make money chartering his boat through the winter. It was here he got the idea for “Mad Max” after seeing large catamarans capable of carrying 49 passengers.

In 1993 he contracted Gold Coast Yachts in St. Croix to build a new boat.

“The name came from the ‘Mad Max’ movies,” he said. “It seemed to be a perfect fit for a big red catamaran.”

Last fall, the Mad Max was sailed to Maine for a complete overhaul and refitting to commemorate her 20th anniversary. New paint, new logo and graphics, new stays, and all hardware was replaced. “The boat has a new look and looks better than she did 20 years ago,” he said.

“Everyone along the way has been extremely supportive, the town, harbormaster, and we are lucky to have some great employees,” Mr. Colacray said. “I have been blessed over the years to do something I love and have the opportunity to follow my passion, to travel abroad in the off-season. It was on one of my journeys to Colombia four years ago that I met my soul-mate Yudy, and we are now married.”

“I hope to be doing this for many years to come. There is no need to retire. I have been semi-retired these last 20 years, working six months and having six months off. I am living the dream.”

For more information go to,www.madmaxmarina.com, call 508-627-7500, or stop by the boat in Edgartown. It is hard to miss.

— Photo by Michael Cummo

 

The Old Sculpin Gallery, across from the Chappaquiddick Ferry ticket office and Memorial Wharf in Edgartown, is the showcase outlet for The Martha’s Vineyard Art Association (MVAA), a group of about 60 member artists that is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

Jane Messersmith, a watercolorist and a retired art and science teacher from the public school system in Florida, became a member when the organization was only 10 years old. She and her late husband, Fred, first came to the Vineyard on the invitation of Ruth Mead, an artist and a charter member of the MVAA who knew Fred from Florida. Fred taught painting at Stetson University in Florida and Ms. Mead wanted him to teach a summer course in watercolor painting at the Old Sculpin Gallery.

“It’s been a wonderful part of our family,” Ms. Messersmith said. “We came here with six children in 1964. This is my 50th year. We fell in love with the Vineyard and the gallery. We even bought land here our first year. We bought our acre and a tenth that summer in the woods in Edgartown and have pretty much been here every summer since.”

In addition to teaching, Fred eventually became director of the gallery and was honored for his 30-plus years of service this summer when the Fred Messersmith Gallery was dedicated at the museum.

Ms. Messersmith also taught at the gallery for five years. Her son, Harry, a sculptor, and daughter, Patricia Turken, a former art teacher at the Lincoln Center in New York, are both MVAA members and have shown their work at the gallery.

“The MVAA has always had children’s art classes, adult painting classes and also life drawing classes. We also give scholarships, three this year to art students at the high school for the college of their choice.”

The gallery is an unusual building for today’s Edgartown. It is over 240 years old — few buildings of its vintage still exist. It is not painted white and would never be mistaken for a whaling captain’s house, and it seems top heavy with its distinctive shingled tower. The building has at various times housed a sail loft, a whale oil processing factory, a grain store, and a boatbuilder’s shop. It has wide, well-worn floorboards and hand-hewn beams. The building itself is worth the visit.

Incorporated in 1954, the MVAA opened for the benefit of the Island community to “increase facilities of art education, create interest in the arts, make an art center for the whole island, establish a permanent collection, and preserve an old landmark.”

About 30 of the member artists will be showing their work at the gallery this summer, along with pieces from the group’s permanent collection and, for the first time, work from non-member artists will also be included.

Six special events are planned to celebrate their 60th anniversary. A 60th anniversary traveling exhibit, featuring selections from the MVAA’s Permanent Collection of over 100 works of art, is touring Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, Vineyard Haven, and West Tisbury this summer. The exhibit will be at the Vineyard Haven Library for the month of August and includes work from the following Vineyard artists: William Abbe, Francis Chapin, Mary Drake Coles, Julius Delbos, Gilberta Goodwin, Joseph Hazen, Patricia Reeve Mead, Ruth Appledoorn Mead, and Vaclav Vytlacil.

There will be three MVAA member themed shows this summer: “Reflections: Celebrating our MVAA Heritage,” “Island Bounty: From Food to Art,” and “Our Golden Age.” A list of artists on display is available on their website, marthasvineyardartassociation.org.

“Painting the Vineyard,” MVAA’s 2nd annual plein air fundraising event will be from July 15 through the 20th, in partnership with the Preservation Trust. Artists will be painting outdoors at some of the Vineyard’s most iconic and favorite places. This event marks a turning point in the organization’s history. It is the first time non-members will be invited to paint alongside members and to exhibit their work in the gallery to sell. The gallery will show the paintings from this event from July 19 to 25.

The first Old Sculpin community show with works by non-member artists as well as member artists will be curated by Edgartown artist Margot Datz beginning at the end of August.

In June, the MVAA dedicated the Fred Messersmith Gallery honoring the former director’s 30-plus years of service to the organization. Also in June, Flatbread held a benefit night with proceeds going toward academic art scholarships, awarded annually to local students.

The Old Sculpin Gallery is open Monday through Saturday, 10 am–6 pm, and on Sundays, 12 noon–5 pm, in season. There is no charge for admission. Dock Street, Edgartown. Call 508-627-4881 or email oldsculpin@gmail.com for more information.

Sandra Lippen of Tilton Rentall. — Photo by Michael Cummo

When Vineyarders have needed a tool, maybe a log splitter or a floor sander, impact driver or a floor nailer, or even a cement mixer, Tilton Rentall has been the place to find it, for the past 40 years. Sandra Lippens has run Tilton Rentall and Tilton Tent and Party Rentals at the corner of Barnes Road and Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road for more than 30 of those years.

Ms. Lippens, known as Sandy to most, is a hands-on owner who usually answers the phone or meets customers at their cars when they drive in to pick up a tool. One day last week Ms. Lippens, looking nowhere near her 74 years, leaned down and grabbed one side of a cement mixer she was renting to a 200 pound, 6-foot-tall man who grabbed the other side. Her knees were bent, her back acceptably vertical. The two lifted the mixer into a pickup truck. She didn’t break a sweat.

She keeps her inventory in her head. She will quickly answer any question about whatever tool anyone might request. She knows the condition of the tools, how to use them, and how to repair many of the hundreds of tools she keeps on hand.

wave.jpgOn the tent and party rental side of the business, she provides everything a party might need, from tents to chairs, tables and table cloths, dishes and cutlery, and also will help customers plan parties. She will, if asked, suggest venues, caterers, and is adept at helping customers navigate the sometimes tricky ways of the Vineyard.

Tilton Rentall was started by M. Thurston “Tebby” Tilton in 1974 who began renting equipment he had used in his construction business along with a few things he had built himself, such a log cutter with an unprotected blade that measured more than two feet in diameter.

In 1980, Ms. Lippens moved to the Vineyard from Worcester where she’d worked for a printing company for 20 years, to begin a job as a massage therapist. Soon, she began helping Mr. Tilton. “I loved my work as a therapist and I met a lot of Vineyarders and learned my way around making house calls,” she said.

“When I first came to help Tebby, there was no party business and we didn’t have many tools,” she said. “The number of tools we had would almost fill one column on a sheet of paper. Most of the tools had MT Development Corporation painted on them, Tebby’s business name. He was an Island builder who built the first few homes in Sea Glen before he quit building to rent out his tools and go fishing for scallops and conch.

“I started to advertise – that was new concept – and people would call and ask for things. ‘I need a…do you have a…’ And Tebby and I would sit down and decide if we could afford to buy the tools people would ask for, if we didn’t have them.

“I used to tell people if you want me to get something, have six of your friends call and I’ll see if I can get it in here. I have always tried to satisfy the needs of the community.

whiteparty.jpg“It became clear to me early on that if I were to be a part of this community I had to respect those people who were earning a living. I don’t want to be in competition with people who have certain tools, especially big equipment. I used to say ‘if you ride on it or tow it behind I do not have it.’” She does have a couple of cement mixers that are tow-behinds, but other than that the rule stands. “I don’t want to be in competition with the landscapers or the builders.

“I am more tuned to the homeowner, but I have pumps and generators and many small tools that big construction companies need one more of, or only need occasionally or when something breaks down. Our company has participated in building most of what you see on this Island in one way or another.”

She said it was at some point during her first year at Tilton’s that an Edgartown family wanted to know if she had what was needed for a wedding. “We didn’t have anything,” Ms. Lippens said. “I went out and bought everything they needed for their wedding. They wanted a yellow and white-striped tent. I bought a yellow and white striped tent. That was the start of the party rental side of Tilton’s. Everyone up-Island wanted white tents. Now we have white tents.”

She said the tent and party rental part of the business is now more than 50 percent of the business: “We try to provide a full range of assistance to groups and people putting on parties.”

A car drove in and a woman said she needed a lawn mower. Ms. Lippens found a lawn mower, explained the basics. Told her how to start it and helped her load it into her car.

“I really hope that people consider Tilton Rentall to be a part of the community,” she said.

The Inn and restaurant at the western tip of Martha’s Vineyard boasts fine dining and water views from every room.

Jeanne and Hugh Taylor, in October of 1988 during construction, four months before opening. — Courtesy Jeanne and Hugh Taylor

Jeanne and Hugh Taylor opened the Outermost Inn as a seven-room Inn in March of 1989 and soon opened a restaurant to feed the guests. “Holy shamoly! Has it been that long? I haven’t even thought about it,” said Mr. Taylor, brother of musicians James, Livingston, Kate, and the late Alex Taylor, when asked whether there would be an anniversary celebration.

In 1971, the Taylors built the house that is now the Inn on family land near the westernmost point of Martha’s Vineyard, right near the Gay Head Cliffs, in the town of Gay Head, now of course known as Aquinnah.

Jeanne and Hugh Taylor, on a recent spring day, getting ready for the season.
Jeanne and Hugh Taylor, on a recent spring day, getting ready for the season.

The Taylors restructured the house in 1988 to create a bright, clean and airy seven room Inn. The Outermost has a large covered porch overlooking a north facing view of land and sea. All the rooms feature great views and private baths. The restaurant boasts fine dining and patrons sometimes make reservations months in advance. Chef Jason Borajkiewicz returns for the summer.

Mr. Taylor talked about the Inn with the Times from the Bahamas, where he and Jeanne spent the winter recovering from last summer.

How’d you get your start?

Originally we only had the notion to open an Inn. The restaurant part came quickly after we opened.

Back in the 60’s Jeanne and I were asked by Clarissa Allen’s mother to open the Chilmark Store, which hadn’t been open for almost fifteen years. It had been run by her uncle.

People were asking us all the time, “Where can we stay up-Island?” And there weren’t many places to stay. So we thought it might be a fun idea to have an Inn up here. About fifteen years later we decided that it was a pretty good idea. Jeanne had come up with the name ‘Outermost Inn’ in the early seventies as a play on words from the book “The Outermost House,” for obvious reasons, being out on the end of the Island.

Our first guests were in early March, 1989 and we quickly found out we needed to feed those people. There was nothing going on out here for meals at that time, particularly that time of the year, so we started feeding our own guests. Very, very quickly we realized we couldn’t sustain a kitchen and a staff without inviting other people from the neighborhood to the restaurant.

Barbara Fenner, now a co-owner with her brother Frank and sister-in-law Merrily Fenner of the Menemsha Galley was our chef for almost eight years. She had just come off the head chef job at the Harborside Restaurant in Edgartown and had cooked for the CIA before that.

We were really sad to see Barbara go but she took the opportunity to get into the Galley with her brother. She set a benchmark we had to maintain. We keep chefs for about four years on average before they go on to other business opportunities.

Over the years the menu and the service has changed. The bar goes up every year and things get a little better. Fine dining is not a static thing. It’s ever moving, pushing the bar up and we try to stay at the leading edge of that.

The restaurant is now an important part of our business for the main two summer months. It takes a substantial part of the touring public to come to the Island to push people all the way up here and they come in the summer.

“It’s an intense business seven months on, 24-7. It’s almost a necessity for us to spend time away from it in the winter.

What are you the most proud of?

I suppose developing the concept and moving ahead to completion and realizing it is actually working and providing service, employing neighbors and friends, making memorable experiences for the people who to travel to us and making a living to boot.

What changes do you plan for this year?

We are toying with the idea of a wood fired Argentine style grill. Maybe a little outside afternoon food and music for Inn guests and whoever straggles in from the community.

What is the most fun part of your business?

Fixing toilets. No. I gotta say happy customers. They really can be a lot of fun. Hell, they’re on vacation. It’s their job to be fun and have it.

What’s the funniest thing that has happened at the Inn?

In hindsight, not at the time, a guest mistaking the upstairs linen closet for the bathroom. Complete with incriminating footprints. Or the time a woman asked me to set up a video cassette for her and after much frustration, the picture came up and it was an X-rated movie in full X.

Most memorable event?

A maid of honor’s chiffon dress caught fire. Our shucker rolled around on the floor with her trying to put her out with 50 wedding guests shaking and spewing champagne on the frothing twosome as they rolled about. That was memorable.

Any long term goals, plans, changes?

I’m too old for long term. I buy ripe bananas and used shoes.

The Outermost restaurant opens for dinner Friday, May, 23. Three nights the first weekend and adds a day a week until they reach their normal six nights per week, closing on Monday nights. The restaurant doors open at 5:00 pm for sittings at 6:00,6:30,7,7:30 & 8 pm all summer. The Inn opens on May 21 and remains open through Columbus Day weekend. Reservations can be made by calling 508-645-3511. Their website is www.outermostinn.com. Mr. Taylor also owns the bike ferry that transports bikes and their riders between Menemsha and Lobsterville.

Coops on a sunny day. — Rebecca Norris

In April the Oak Bluffs’ dockside restaurant on the harbor, Coop de Ville, opened for its thirtieth year. Coop de Ville is soccer central for Martha’s Vineyard and they plan to celebrate this year’s World Cup. They offer casual outdoor seating and New England seafood, including steamers, boiled lobsters, fried clams and eight flavors of Buffalo chicken wings.

Petey Berndt says Coop de Ville will have 100 beers on tap this summer.
Petey Berndt says Coop de Ville will have 100 beers on tap this summer.

Sitting at the open air bar with one of their 100 brands of beer or at one of the tables with the “Vineyard’s Best Fish Sandwich,” or at the counter facing the harbor, feasting on the spicy wings or the dollar littlenecks or oysters from the raw bar, the Coop is a beach shack on the harbor that can make an Islander feel like he’s on vacation even if he isn’t.

Owner Carroll “Petey” Berndt, 53, of Vineyard Haven, originally from Baltimore, bought Coop de Ville from the original owner 28 years ago.

He talked to The Times while at work.

Are you ready for the summer?

We’re ready. We’re the first restaurant to open on the harbor and the absolute last restaurant to close. We go from mid-April to just about Halloween. When the boats stop that’s pretty much it.

Are you doing anything special to celebrate your thirtieth year in business?

We will probably have the band Woody Pines and Mike Benjamin play in June for a big celebration.

There were about 400 people at our twenty-fifth anniversary. We had a band on a boat and it was crazy and the World Cup. We are a World Cup soccer headquarters. We had ninety people for the USA game four years ago. The World Cup starts June 12 this year and that will be our biggest event this summer. We are the soccer headquarters on the Vineyard for the world cup. It will be craaazy down here.

What was your first restaurant job?

Right here, but not during the summers when I painted houses and worked for Bill Smith doing clambakes. This is where we used to come from the beach for little necks and oysters and wings. This was the hangout back then. And when this place became available I told my Dad and he said you better buy it, so we bought right then and there on the spot. My dad loaned me the seed money.

I bought it from the previous owner, Jeff Casarsa, who was from Buffalo. He came down to do chicken wings. I’ve expanded to have a big raw bar and everything we have today, including a new addition next door we are calling the Shuck Shack. It will have outdoor seating in front of the serving window, its own beer taps and raw bar.

What influences your menu?

I am from Baltimore which is why we have a lot of Baltimore related things on the menu. Baltimore beer, steamed shrimp, Baltimore wings, heavy on the old bay. Lots of Maryland related food, like crab cakes.

How many tables do you have?

We have seating for about forty but during the World Cup we put 90 on the deck, which is incredible, really. The finals this year will be in Rio and we would like to put a huge screen on a boat in the harbor and have 500 people here but we need to get permission from the town. Wouldn’t that be fun? That would be the biggest soccer celebration in Martha’s Vineyard history.

Do you play soccer?

Oh, yeah. I played, coached, did it all. I have a bad ankle that keeps me from it now.

How many people do you employ?

About fifteen. I have four people who have been with me for 20 years which is amazing for a seasonal restaurant, two people who have been here seven years, one for 15 years. Let’s just say it’s very hard to break into the ranks of the Coop.

What specials will you have this summer?

We do our lobster fest every Tuesday. Monday madness is lobster rolls, Thursday is our clambake, dollar littlenecks all summer. We have a hundred kinds of beer this year. It’s insane, twenty on tap. We are expanding our raw bar, three kinds of oysters. It’s going to be a fun summer with the world cup. We just need the sun to shine.

What do you do in the winter?

I paint houses here on the Vineyard. I used to go to Brazil in the winter but when you have a house, a mortgage and a dog you kind of have to stay around.

Kevin and Suzanna Crowell at Détente recently. — Kaylea Moore

Détente Restaurant, in Edgartown, is ten years old this summer. Owners Kevin and Suzanna Crowell pride themselves on their menu of adventurous modern local cuisine and a substantial selection of wines from around the world.

Kevin and Suzanna found inspiration for Détente while traveling in Europe over 10 years ago.
Kevin and Suzanna found inspiration for Détente while traveling in Europe over 10 years ago.

Détente is positioned, unremarkably, in a corner in the back of Nevin Square in Edgartown, halfway between North Water and North Summer Streets. There is little in the way of walk-in traffic but their reputation for fine food and service has led to a decade of success.

Dinners are served either in the intimate dining rooms, or on the outdoor terrace, a perfect spot for a quiet meal by candlelight. The full menu is also offered at the beautiful soapstone bar. The offerings change frequently to take advantage of the best in locally grown and raised ingredients.

The Crowell’s met in the late 1990’s while working at an Edgartown restaurant called Savior Faire, she as a waitress, he a sous chef. When the owners closed the restaurant to start another called Alchemy they stayed with them and worked for a couple of seasons before taking a summer off. “We worked private dinner parties while we tried to figure out our hopes and dreams,” Ms. Crowell said. The following winter they jumped at the chance to stay in Paris when a friend had an available apartment. Their travel plans included getting married in Italy with about 40 of their friends.

Ms. Crowell took some time to tell The Times about Détente and its history.

How did you first get into the restaurant business?

Neither one of us had any idea that we wanted to work in the restaurant industry. In college, Kevin’s best friend invited him to work with him on the Cape as a line cook, and he loved it. It was the first job he ever had where he wasn’t watching the clock. The work days actually felt too short.

Suzanna has an older brother who’s a chef, and other family and close family friends who owned restaurants. Always surrounded by good food, it just felt natural to get into the restaurant business.

How did Détente begin and where did the name come from?

We knew we wanted to start our own restaurant some day. In the winter of 2003/4, we got the opportunity to spend three months in Paris, and we threw ourselves wholeheartedly into their culture of food and wine. We searched out tiny bistros and wine bars and dreamed. We took pictures, picked out colors, took notes everywhere we ate.

We even came up with the name on that trip. Kevin was reading a book in which the word détente kept popping up. We asked around what the word meant, and we were told relaxation. We thought that was perfect. We would want our restaurant to be a place where people came to relax and enjoy. When we got home from that trip, we had the opportunity to buy this space, and we didn’t hesitate.

What are you the most proud of?

We’re proud that people have supported our efforts. It’s a difficult location that is not often stumbled upon — people have to seek us out. When we bought the restaurant, it was a shell of a space that needed a ton of work. It feels good to know that we created the restaurant together, everything from the drywall to the wine list.

How has the menu changed over the years?

It’s always changing. Kevin is inspired by our travels, trips to farms, classics revisited, and modern approaches to food. In the beginning it was mostly influenced by French and Italian style cooking. Over the years it has drawn from a more diverse pool of cuisines.

What is the most fun part of your business?

There are certain nights when everything just clicks and falls perfectly into place, the customers are happy, the staff is in a groove, everyone is enjoying themselves. Those are the times when it’s the most fun running a restaurant. It makes you feel like a proud parent.

What is the funniest thing that has happened at the restaurant?

Most of it’s not suitable for print, but believe us it’s funny.

Well, if you can’t tell us about the funniest event can you tell us about the most memorable?

The first night we hosted a wedding reception. We were still pretty new, and we were so honored that they chose Détente. It was a beautiful evening, and after a lovely meal they moved all of the tables to the side and turned our dining room into a nightclub for the rest of the night. They had so much fun and were so in love. You can still see the marks on the floor from their shoes, and they hold a special place in our hearts.

What changes do you plan for this year?

We’d like to offer more wine tasting dinners and expand our catering/ special events program.

Any goals you haven’t achieved?

There’s always more to dream about. After we bought The Sweet Life Café last year, in Oak Bluffs, we’ve been pretty content with two young kids and two restaurants, but you never know.

Détente is open 5:30-9 pm, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Starting mid-May open Tuesday through Saturday, then 7 days a week in the summer starting mid-June from 5:30 until 10 pm.

Stefanie (center) with (left to right) Kathryn Shertzer, wholesale account manager; Giocchina Viaggio, studio assistant; Karolina Sullivan, sales associate. — Lynn Christoffers

Meet Your Merchant Plus is sponsored content. *

Popular jeweler Stefanie Wolf grew up in Connecticut, and after graduating from college, worked in a corporate job before returning to a love for jewelry-making that she discovered one summer on Martha’s Vineyard. She recently moved from her Arts District, Oak Bluffs location to a new studio and shop at 12 North Water Street in Edgartown.

 

What’s your background? I grew up in CT, went to college in MA, and spent some years working in a cubicle in corporate

Stefanie Wolf at craft show ten years ago.
Stefanie Wolf at craft show ten years ago.

America after college. I learned about business, marketing and innovation quickly, but got burnt out and had an early mid-life crisis at 25. I wasn’t finding gratification in my work or in my relationships and it turned out that my life needed a course re-direction. So I quit my job, said goodbye to my boyfriend and moved to Maui to crew on a sailboat. After that things really started to fall into place! I learned to surf, fell in love, re-discovered my passion for jewelry making, and re-directed my career path a bit. After finishing the education and training to become a Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California (I had moved to San Francisco along the way), I dropped it all because my jewelry hobby had turned into a full-time career by the time I had completed my graduate degree. That was around 2005 and I’ve never looked back!

Where are you from? I was born in San Francisco, grew up in CT and have family throughout the North Shore of MA and in CT. I went to college outside of Boston.

When did you start making jewelry? I had a rock collection as a kid, and I’ve always been attracted to colorful shiny objects. I started making jewelry during my college summers spent on the Vineyard. I purchased my first bead stash from Beadniks and picked up some wire from Philips Hardware on Circuit Avenue and got to work! I spent my days at the beach and working at Saffron and The Last Mango (stores owned by the owners of Hannah B in Edgartown), and my nights serving at the Edgartown Yacht club. I dabbled in jewelry making in-between and actually convinced two stores along Circuit Avenue to sell my designs that first summer!

When did you go into business, and where? I started my jewelry business in 2003 in San Francisco. I was finishing up a graduate degree in Integral Counseling Psychology. I was training as a psychotherapist and I found jewelry-making to be my own form of therapy. Jewelry was a hobby and a small side business until I allowed it to take over as my full time occupation by 2005. In the early days I’d sell at craft fairs, home parties, at yoga studios, schools and offices.

The new location of Stefanie Wolf Designs, at 12 North Water Street, Edgartown.
The new location of Stefanie Wolf Designs, at 12 North Water Street, Edgartown.

What made you decide to move to MV? My husband and I met in Oak Bluffs when I was 17. He was born and raised on Island. We remained part of the same circle of friends for almost a decade, meeting up somewhat serendipitously in Hawaii in 2001. We were vacationing there separately, but decided to move there at the same time. We soon fell in love and lived for a few years in Maui and California before coming so settle back on island just in time for our daughter to be born in 2009. The Vineyard has always felt like home to me.

What was your first impression of the Island? My older brother used to take me on week-long vacations to the Vineyard when I was in middle school and high school. He’d let me bring a friend and we’d roam around the towns and beaches eating ice cream, boogie boarding, meeting other kids. It was heavenly! I’d beg my mom to let me spend my summers here and she’d say “Not until college”… So after my freshman year began my college summers on the Vineyard. The first summer I lived in a 3 bedroom house in Dodgers Hole with 8 women. That was insane! We had lots of fun.

Where was your first studio/place of business? My first jewelry studio was the desk in my bedroom of a shared flat in San Francisco around 2002. I soon moved into an apartment with my (now) husband and he allowed me to take over our dining room. I worked at a small desk and had floor to ceiling shelves full of beads.

Any near disasters?  Oh my, yes! I think it was the summer of 2012… It was a day of summer thunderstorms and my elaborate and bejeweled display was all set up under my tent at the Artisans Festival outside at the Grange Hall. A downpour came as I was chatting with customers. The rain accumulated so quickly in my sagging tent top that the weight of the water began to weigh down the entire tent structure. By the time I addressed it with a long stick to try and re-route the water over the sides of the tent, there were gallons and gallons of water and it was too late! My friendly artisan neighbors came running to my rescue but we all reached the same conclusion. The only way to get this growing body of water off of my tent top was to poke a hole in the canvas and allow it to pour into the center of my display. The steel support structure of the tent was bending, swaying and bowing and we agreed it was destined to collapse at any moment! So…. I invited my customers out of the tent, moved my tables to the edges of my booth, and we used one of the long sticks to punch a hole beneath the largest pool above, causing a giant downpour in the center of my display. It was insane! I then had a giant muddy lake in my ‘shop’, a torn, bent and destroyed tent, and guess what? Customers continued to shop the full day. After the drama subsided I proceeded to have one of my best sales days ever. After the ordeal I felt a bit traumatized, and was very thankful to the other artisans for helping me out, and to my customers for making it “a great day” despite the weather.

What’s your favorite color?  Turquoise blue.

Is there anything in the Vineyard landscape that inspires you? Where DO you get inspiration?  The ocean. The waves. Island living. The way the people, the lifestyle, the energy is just different here. The way I can watch the sunset every night over the lagoon and it’s a whole new experience each evening.

Any gratifying stories ? Michelle Obama will be receiving a very special gift from me this summer. Mark my words! To date… My jewelry will be featured in the UncommonGoods Fall catalog, of which I’m very proud. This is a big step forward for my wholesale business. We’re talking now about including it in their Holiday catalog as well. It’s also on the UncommonGoods website now and getting a good response so far http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/mosaic-necklace .

How much do you work in the summer?  More than I’d like to, but it’s inevitable here because that’s when my retail business happens. I try to get at least one nice beach day in per week. My goal for the next few years is to build such a solid team of employees that I can enjoy the summer season more. Can you check in with me about that in August?

What’s your favorite day-off activity on MV?  My dreamiest summer days involve dropping my daughter off at camp, grabbing my husband, our beach chairs and some lunch and high tailing it up to Aquinnah for a big day at the beach. He and I are truly beach bums at heart. Our marathon beach days have changed a bit now that we’re parents, but we milk them for all they are worth! Sometimes we will take two cars so only one of us needs to leave mid-afternoon for kid pick up, and the other can soak it in a tad longer. He usually lets me stay.

Do you have any work quirks? As much as I love my small team of amazing employees, I treasure my alone time at the studio. I find that I need space and time to be creative and things flow more easily for me when I’m alone. As my jewelry business has grown, I’ve been increasingly challenged with how and when this coveted alone time happens. In my new studio we actually have several rooms so it is much easier to get some space. Though I must admit, that I still love coming in after hours or on days we are closed just so I can have the place to myself. This alone time is when I feel free to let my new designs happen, experiment with new ideas or rearrange the jewelry displays or the furniture.

What’s the most dangerous part of your job? Overpromising and underdelivering.

What advice would you give an artist who wants to start a new business on MV/sell their works here?  1)  Find a way to appeal to locals, not just visitors. 2)  Start small… i.e. pay for a small table at a flea market before you commit tens of thousands to a downtown lease. Prove your concept first and grow slowly, adjusting your course along the way. 3)  Be kind and respectful to EVERYONE. This island is way too small to do otherwise.

Do you use social media? Yes, of course! Social media is an important part of my marketing. I’m loving Instagram these days, I always post everything on Facebook, I’ve been playing with Twitter and I have a bunch of boards on Pinterest.

Facebook  Stefanie Wolf Designs (www.facebook.com/pages/Stefanie-Wolf-Designs/134641419897169?ref=hl)

Instragram   stefwolfdesigns (instagram.com/stefwolfdesigns#)

Pinterest  stefwolfdesigns (www.pinterest.com/stefwolfdesigns/)

Twitter  @stefwolfdesigns (twitter.com/StefWolfDesigns)

Where are you located? Please come visit me in my brand new studio space and shop at 12 North Water Street in Edgartown. I’m on the 2nd floor of the beautiful historical Preservation Trust building, right next to Boucle Salon & Spa. And always online at: stefaniewolf.com.

Please join me for my Grand Opening Celebrations, Thursdays, July 24 and August 7, from 6 – 8 pm, concurrent with the Edgartown Gallery Strolls.

 

*The Times is partnering with merchants to highlight their stories. Meet Your Merchant Plus is paid advertising.