Meet Your Merchant

The new lobby at the Dockside Inn in Oak Bluffs. — Dockside Inn

The Massachusetts Lodging Association (MLA) recently presented a “Star of the Industry Innovation Award to The Dockside Inn of Oak Bluffs for its “timely and incredibly successful development and execution of Loomis, the inn’s own virtual concierge,” according to a press release.

“Loomis is a 24/7 text-based virtual concierge system where guests can connect with Island locals to answer any and every question one might use a conventional concierge for, as well as any other want or need that may come up for a guest.”

“In two short years, Loomis has gained serious regional and national recognition, and this award by the MLA is quite an honor,” owner John Tiernan said. “It’s wonderful to be recognized in your home state, a state known for world-class hospitality and cutting-edge innovation.”

The Dockside Inn has 21 guest rooms, many of which have commanding water views of the Oak Bluffs Harbor. For more information, go to

Mark Crossland in 1975, the year Crossland Landscape was founded. — courtesy Mark Crossland

Mark Crossland started his landscaping business on Martha’s Vineyard in 1974, mowing lawns out of the back of his pickup truck.

In the early 1980s, he started Crossland Nursery (where Jardin-Mahoney is now located). When Mr. Crossland started a family, they were born into the business.

“My siblings and I spent our childhood running around the greenhouses, watering plants and doing odd jobs,” said Mark’s oldest son Kyle. “My grandfather, Wally Crossland, used to run the Easter egg hunts that kicked off the landscaping season every April.”

The family has since left the nursery business, but Mark Crossland’s children — Kyle, Keith, Zoe, and Kane — have joined in to help with the landscaping.

Kane Crossland, the youngest son of Crossland Landscape founder Mark Crossland, assists with an irrigation installation.
Kane Crossland, the youngest son of Crossland Landscape founder Mark Crossland, assists with an irrigation installation.

Keith, Zoe, and Kyle pursued degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in environmental design, plant and soil science, and landscape construction. They returned to the Vineyard to apply their skills to the family enterprise.

“Working with family can be difficult, but at the end of the day we are all trying to achieve the same result, happy clients and quality landscapes,” said Kyle Crossland.

Crossland Landscape has been responsible for many of the favorite outdoor spaces associated with Oak Bluffs, including Farland Square (the entrance to Oak Bluffs), the Sunset Lake Christmas tree, and the fountains and gardens in Ocean Park.

“Working in the green industry on Martha’s Vineyard is a very satisfying profession” said Kyle Crossland. “Working outdoors in the sunshine, being able to transform an old, unkempt landscape into something new and beautiful is rewarding.”

daRosa's, another multi-generation Oak Bluffs business, anchors the end of Circuit Ave. — Photo Courtesy of daRosa's

Next year, daRosa’s and Martha’s Vineyard Printing Company will celebrate 80 years in business. In 1935, Antonio daRosa bought out the Martha’s Vineyard Herald Printing Company (in the location where Reliable Market is today). After five years, he bought the current daRosa’s building on Circuit Avenue and began selling office supplies alongside the printing business. He also provided fine art supplies for the growing community of professional artists on the Vineyard. When Antonio daRosa’s three children were old enough, they began helping out: collating, stapling, and running errands. At age 12, Dennis daRosa, the current owner of the business, was setting type and running the printing press.

Antonio daRosa founded the family business in 1935.
Antonio daRosa founded the family business in 1935.

Mr. daRosa said the changing technology of printing presses has largely molded the family business. In the 1950s, the daRosas bought their first automatic press, which they still use today for certain types of work that cannot be done digitally. “It was our bread and butter,” Mr. daRosa said. “It printed 40 sheets a minute, which was fast for that time and place.” One of the press’s main uses was printing the Vineyard town reports, which daRosa’s still does.

The next investment was an offset press, which produced 9,000 sheets an hour. Mr. daRosa said that, as a teenager, “my brothers and I ran those as fast as we could, to get out early at night.”

Other, modern ways of creating images through photography and typewriters continued to help expedite the process. But it was the introduction of the IBM computer that launched daRosa’s into the modern era.

After Antonio daRosa’s death in 1969, Dennis daRosa returned from school, his brother returned from the military, and his sister set aside her real estate career to “circle the wagons” and run the company.

The original daRosa's store front.
The original daRosa’s store front.

In 1978, daRosa’s became one of the first businesses on the Island to use computers. They paid almost $80,000 for the first computer, which they needed because they could no longer manually handle billing. To offset the cost, they began offering the computer system to other Island businesses, to help with their accounting and payroll.

As soon as IBM started to retail PCs, daRosa’s became a distributor. Soon, they were selling Eagle and Acer brands, along with copiers and other modern office hardware.

“We were a small dealer, but we were in the right place at the right time,” said Mr. daRosa of the technological revolution, which helped daRosa’s expand with the Vineyard in the 1970s and 80s.

Today, Mr. daRosa says the tradition of selling products and helping customers use them continues.

darosas-1950s.jpg“Taking on the family business has been rewarding for us all,” Mr. daRosa said. “Our dad was renowned as a worker and a man that loved to talk to our customers. He was a one man band until he could afford to hire us, and we always came back to work during summers and holidays. Between the family and the people working for us, it’s a good team. Our reputation of being loyal to local businesses and customers keeps us viable, by impressing upon our customers that we care.”

The daRosa’s business embraced a third generation when Dennis’s son, Phillip, launched a sound studio, The Print Shop, in the back of the family store in 2011.

“We now have a budding sound studio,” Dennis daRosa said. “Maybe we’ll have the next Motown.”

Susan Phillips and Donna Leon are the granddaughters of Phillips Hardware founder John Phillips. — M.C. Wallo
The Phillips Hardware store front, 1936, eight years after John Phillips opened it.
The Phillips Hardware store front, 1936, eight years after John Phillips opened it.

John Phillips introduced his hardware store to Circuit Ave in 1928, running the shop with his wife. Over the years, the store expanded, buying the restaurant next door. The store has similarly expanded through the generations and is now run by John Phillips’s granddaughters: floor manager Susan Phillips and office manager Donna Leon. Ms. Phillips spoke with The Times about the business she has inherited.

When did you first start taking on responsibilities at the store?

We grew up in the store. When I was younger, my grandmother would give me one thing to order, and that was my product area to keep straight and dust.

What kinds of things have changed about the store over the years?

We have computers now. That makes everything easier. One of the big differences is people come in now with their cell phones and can show us a picture of the part that’s broken. Before that, all they had was their words to describe it, and sometimes it was not happening. So the pictures help.

What are some of the benefits of working with your family?

It’s easy if someone needs to go on vacation. If someone gets sick, we cover each others’ backs. And we get along, so that’s good too.

Is it ever tough working together?

Everybody has bad days. But no, I get along famously with my sister.

What are some of your bestsellers?

It depends on the department, but we do well with paint brushes, and we have the biggest selection of lampshades on the Island.

What is the most rewarding project you have helped a customer with?

I own a balloon business as well, and we put gifts in the balloons. I had one customer put an engagement ring in the balloon, which was kind of fascinating. We haven’t had any proposals in the hardware store though.

How did you start the balloon business?

In 1992, I went to a buying show in Boston with my boyfriend at the time. He saw a rose inside a balloon and he wanted to get me one. We ended up sitting through the whole sales pitch, and a day later, I owned a balloon business. My parents gave us an eight-foot window in the carpet section of the hardware store. We started putting gifts in balloons, then we added cards and gift items. Every year we snagged a little more space in the store, and now we have the whole two aisles.

What’s the biggest challenge of the business?

Parking. For customers and our own employees.

Why do people shop at Phillips?

A lot of people say that our prices are fair. Just yesterday, someone mentioned our Keurig coffee makers are the same price as off-Island stores. We try to have reasonable prices and hopefully have good customer service.

Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs, 1936. Parking was difficult back then as well.
Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs, 1936. Looks like parking was just as hard back then.

What’s great about your location?

It’s convenient. A lot of people come to the area anyway to get their mail or groceries, so they stop in.

Why did you decide to come back and run your family business?

It’s a lot of pride. It’s nice to carry it on. This town has a lot of businesses that are passed down from generation to generation. The Vineyard itself has that sense of community.

What’s in store for the future of Phillips?

We’re hoping to do some work on the building. Oak Bluffs wants to improve their look and update their buildings, and we’d like to get involved with that.

Dr. Ryan Shea. — Photo by Louisa Hufstader

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For more than 40 years, Islanders and visitors have made their way to Dr. David M. Finkelstein’s Vineyard Haven office for eye exams, emergency eye care, eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses. Since 2007, customers have also seen Dr. Ryan Shea, an Island native who graduated from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, UMass Boston, and the New England College of Optometry. Dr. Shea began by staffing Dr. Finkelstein’s traditional Wednesdays off and is now a partner in the optometry office, on track to take over the practice from his former boss.

How did you get started?

I knew I wanted to get into some kind of medicine, but I wanted to be able to move back here. I looked into different professions, and I shadowed an optometrist. It just seemed like a good fit. So, I approached Dr. Finkelstein early on and asked him about optometry. Every time we had some kind of project in [optometry] school, I would come to him with questions about his practice. As soon as I got out, I started working here. We’ve been open on Wednesdays ever since I started. Because that went so well, I asked him, “What would you think about me taking over the practice?”

Recall your first day on the job in 2007?

Our last year of optometry school is all patient care, so my first day here was pretty smooth.

I felt comfortable, I knew the population. I’m from here so it wasn’t as intimidating as it could have been if I had been in another practice. Everybody was so welcoming.

What’s it like to be one of the Vineyard’s only optometrists, after growing up here?

It’s a great feeling knowing that the very same people who helped me grow up are the people I’m helping later in life. It’s a pretty cool dynamic, and I think it helps add an air of trust. They know I’m going to be caring about them because they cared about me. I think in medicine the problem is that people are becoming more of a number and less of a person. [Knowing your patients] adds that personal component.

How many patients do you have?

About 13,000. I don’t know how many are active.

How young and how old are they?

Six month infants, to a woman of 106.

What’s the difference between ophthalmology and your field of optometry?

There are a few differences, but essentially it’s surgery. We don’t do surgery. You have your specialists, your primary care, and your pharmacists. We manage a little bit of everything and guide people if they need specialty care.

What makes for a tough day at the office?

Because we don’t have opthalmology here (on the Vineyard), every day has the potential to be a challenging day. We have to be ready for everything because you never know what’s going to walk in the door. It’s not a practice where all we’re doing is eyeglasses. We’re seeing patients with trauma, we’re seeing people with emergency situations, and we have to deal with it right away. We have to get people on the boat, up to Boston, or over to the Cape, or take a piece of metal out of somebody’s eye. The challenging days are when you get three or four of those on the same day. We see everyone who calls us.

How has business changed since you started in 2007?

In the seven years, we’ve really focused on bringing in new technology to improve our documentation — we have electronic medical records, we have more equipment for diagnostic purposes, and we’ve revamped our optical department with more frame selections. There’s a lot more sunglasses and a lot more glasses.

What are some of the eyewear brands you stock?

Costa, Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, Wiley X, Kaenon. We’re always trying to get new styles, new designs, and keep it exciting for people when they’re picking out glasses. We try to price it so that we’re more competitive than off-Island, so people don’t think they have to go off-Island.

People are always surprised when our prices are better than off-Island for the frames we’re selling. We want to keep the business here. It would get around pretty quickly if you were overcharging everyone on the Island.

But doesn’t everybody kind of expect you to charge more than on the mainland?

Yeah, they do. But I like to prove ’em wrong. They’re going to spend less here.

What advice would you give a new business starting out on Martha’s Vineyard?

Get the word out. Word of mouth here is huge. You need to let people know where you are and what you’re doing.

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

Judy Hartford, at the West Tisbury location of Bananas. — Photo by Louisa Hufstader

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Judy Hartford and her husband, Thad Harshbarger, moved to the Vineyard in 2001 after raising their two children on Long Island. Both are psychotherapists with private practices on the Island, and Ms. Hartford also runs Bananas Clothing, recently closing the Vineyard Haven location to concentrate on her flagship store on State Road in West Tisbury. Before Bananas, the couple owned the Vineyard Lights gallery on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs for four years.

What’s happening at Bananas right now?

We just this fall launched a men’s line with brands like Timberland and CP Shades, very simple Island-friendly clothes for men. In the kitchen, home goods and candles and soaps. We offer a range of styles for women; we try to fit all bodies. We’re artsy, we’re funky, we’re about layering, we’re about being comfortable with your own look, being comfortable in your skin.

What has it been like starting and running your own business on the Vineyard?

I was starting with no information when we opened Vineyard Lights in 2001 in Oak Bluffs. I had never done retail before in my life. We didn’t know anything about doing business, but people trusted us because we were sincere and, I think, because we were older. I have learned a huge amount. I have gotten more comfortable with the designers I buy from. I try to listen to what people want. It has been really a joy.

How did a fine art and craft gallery become a clothing boutique?

I come from an artistic family. My father was an artist, my brother is a concert pianist. So I come from the arts, but they tell me that I always, from the time I was two years old, loved clothing. Clothing is art. Clothing is a personal expression. It’s a clothing store with some beautiful artwork as part of what we do. The upstairs is rented to artists including Gabriella Camilleri, our “artist-in-residence,” who designs clothing and also works in the store.

What do you remember about your first day of business?

The very first sale: I wrote it up and looked at the cash register and said “Now what do I do?” I didn’t know how to ring it up. I didn’t know anything about the trade shows in New York.

What was your best day?

We’ve had a bunch of great days. At the gallery, we had a fabulous, gigantic abstract art piece that cost $7,000 or $8,000, I don’t remember. We had to build a crate for it, and my husband and the artist had to wheel it down to the ferry — I think they had to bring it over and get it met on the other side. It was a huge sale, so that was thrilling for us to make that kind of money. And just the whole amateur operation of putting this thing together, none of us really knowing what we were doing and then learning as we went along, wheeling this thing down Circuit Avenue.

What keeps you going when it’s summer and you’re working all the time?

I am fortunate in that I have a huge amount of energy. I like to work, I love this store and it’s always challenging and interesting to me being in the store. I have a great staff who have been with me for years and years. We have a very, very loyal customer base. I would say that 80 to 90 percent of the people who come to the store, we know them by name and they know us by name, and we offer a very personal shopping experience, which nurtures in two directions. It nurtures the customer, and it nurtures us, because there is a genuine warmth that has developed over these many years. It is really wonderful. And that keeps us going.

How do you relax in your spare time?

I go to the gym two days a week to a fabulous class. I walk in the nice weather whenever I can. My husband I are hooked on some TV series that we just adore. We go to dinner, we have friends over to dinner — nothing fancy. And we go off-Island a fair amount because we have nine grandchildren. They’re spread around, so we have a lot of visiting that we need to do.

What advice would you give a new business starting on Martha’s Vineyard?

Do what you love. Make sure that you’ve got good help and you treat them well, which I think is enormously important. And trust yourself, which is kind of how we did it.

Where did the name Bananas come from?

When we started off (at the Fiddlehead farm stand location a decade ago), the name was Yes, We Have No Bananas. It’s an old song from the 1920s. I have the sheet music framed in the store. Then it was Bananas Gallery, now it’s Bananas Clothing. Everybody knows it as Bananas.

Bananas Clothing, 697 State Road, West Tisbury. 508-696-5939;;

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

Elaine Barse of the Green Room.

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This Memorial Day weekend, The Green Room in Vineyard Haven celebrates its 20th anniversary. Founder and owner Elaine Barse opened her surf and skate shop in 1994 on Spring Street. The business expanded in 2003 with the purchase of LeRoux Clothing and Fashion on Main Street, where The Green Room now sells surfboards and sporting gear alongside fashion apparel and accessories from sought after brands including Patagonia, Tommy Bahama, True Religion, Hunter Boots, Levi’s, Frye, Mia, Clarks, Steve Madden, Dansko, and North Face.

How did you get started?

I worked with a guy named Neil Peck of Peck’s Bad Boy and he kind of introduced me to the action sports industry. I was already a snowboarder, but he introduced me to skateboarding and surfing and all that. So when he went out of business, I took over that void that existed on the Island. I sort of fell into it that way.

How has your business changed over the years?

We used to be focused solely on surf and skate, but when we bought LeRoux, we entered a whole clothing and fashion environment. Going to New York [apparel shows] is very different than dealing with surf reps. I think I’ve been very lucky, the business has grown as I’ve grown professionally. I was 27 when I opened the store. You don’t want to do the same thing you did when you were 27, 20 years later.

What do you remember about your first day of business?

My first customers were an Australian couple. They still live on the Vineyard.

What has been your best day?

I’ve had a lot of them. It’s hard to nail one down. A lot of people think a best day is a financial thing, but it’s really not. Our annual sale (going on until mid-March) is the highlight of the year.

How about a worst day?

Probably one of the worst experiences I’ve had was when a skunk wandered in to the store. I had no idea what to do. This was the first year we were in business. It would have ruined my entire stock.

What happened?

We called someone from Animal Control. She said, go to Cumberland Farms, buy chocolate donuts, and make a trail out the door. It worked.

What keeps you going when it’s summer and you’re working all the time?

I can’t work seven days in a row. I will work from home, but that’s very different from being in the store. Having really good staff allows me not to have to be here seven days in a row and allows me to be a better boss to them.

How do you relax on your days off?

On the Vineyard: Go to a yoga class, go to the beach, do a little paddle boarding and just relax. Off-Island: snowboarding.

What else floats your boat?

I’m really proud of being involved with the Martha’s Vineyard Skate Park, getting that off the ground and really helping that come to fruition. It opened in 2003. and we’d been involved for five or six years at that point.

What advice would you give a new business starting on Martha’s Vineyard?

You’ve got to jump in with both feet. You have to. Because if you’re worried about failure, there’s a chance you will. If you’re prepared for failure, that’s a whole different scenario. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. And try and enjoy it. Make sure that you do take time for yourself.

The Green Room, 71 Main Street, Vineyard Haven. 508-693-6888;

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

Reliable has always been on Circuit Ave., but it started out down the street, on the other side of Phillips Hardware. — Photo Courtesy of Reliable Market
Reliable founders Helen and Eddie Pacheco.

When it opened in 1947, Armando “Eddie” Pacheco called his store “Reliable Self-Service Market” because at the time, it was uncommon for customers, rather than clerks, to pick their own items from the shelves. The trend caught on, and while the other five markets on Circuit Avenue withered, Mr. Pacheco bought three other buildings and a spot for a parking lot (hence the uneven floors and aisles). Today, the store is owned by Eddie Pacheco’s son Robert, who shares the responsibilities with his wife, son, and daughter.

When did you first start taking responsibilities at the store?

After school, helping my dad since I was maybe 12.

What has changed about the store over the years?

A lot of the product lines have changed, but especially the technology. It was a big deal to get scanning registers and digital scales.

What has stayed a staple of the business from the start?

Eddie and Helen Pacheco with their son Bob, current owner of Reliable.
Eddie and Helen Pacheco with their son Bob, current owner of Reliable.

We have a lot of long-time employees, and long-time customers. We like to think that we give personal service, that we know our customers. We have a great local Island customer base from all the towns.

What’s the most challenging part of running a business on the Vineyard?

That’s a hard question. It’s all challenging, but you come in and give it your best every day. Come in tomorrow and do the same thing.

What’s it like working so closely with your family?

We have a fairly good sized store, so we’re kind of broken up into our own departments. I work mostly in the meat department with my son, my daughter works mostly at the front, and my wife works in the back office taking care of the books, payroll, and things like that. Naturally we all work together, but it’s not like we’re side by side in a small room.

What are some of the benefits of having a family business?

We’ve been doing it for so long, it comes second nature.

What do you love about your Oak Bluffs location?

It’s a great central location. We have the post office and the hardware store, and Linda Jean’s, which are all convenient neighbors. Phillips has been our neighbor since we started in 1947. We used to be in the store where Basics is now, but even when we moved, we just moved to the other side of Phillips. They’ve been on one side or the other for sixty-something years.

What is your most memorable experience at the store?

A lot has changed in the aisles of Reliable.
A lot has changed in the aisles of Reliable.

Sometimes you get a little brushed up when there’s a hurricane or extreme weather condition, but you just deal with it. Hurricane Bob was a crazy day to be at work. My customers really don’t panic that much, but you still know on those days they will want to get to the store. So you try to do your best to serve them when they get here.

Do you ever have issues getting your deliveries to the Island?

We own our own tractor trailer, so we do it ourselves, picking things up from a distribution center in New Hampshire. We have a very good driver, so it works pretty smoothly, and we always have control over it.

What are your plans for the future of the business? Will it stay in the family?

Bob Pacheco says the meat cutting department at Reliable is one of the features that sets it apart from other Island markets.
Bob Pacheco says the meat cutting department at Reliable is one of the features that sets it apart from other Island markets.

I don’t plan any big changes. Both my children are working in the business, and they seem interested in it. We do remodels and updates as we go along, but our location makes it hard for us to do any major expansions.

What sets Reliable apart from other grocery stores on the Island?

We have a personalized butcher department, we do a lot of cut-to-order meats, marinated and stuffed products, store made meatballs and meatloaf. Things like that are not as easy to come by in other stores.

What would your parents say about the business today?

Reliable Market.
Reliable Market.

I think they’d get a chuckle out of it if they saw the store crowded, saw their grandkids working hard. They’d get a chuckle out of it.

In a good way?

Yeah, in a good way.

Jason Leone is the owner of Martha's Vineyard Glass in Vineyard Haven. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

In 2010, Block Island native Jason Leone took a leap across Rhode Island Sound when he saw a business opportunity on Martha’s Vineyard.  With his wife, Erin, Mr. Leone, 43, opened Martha’s Vineyard Glass. The couple now live in Vineyard Haven with a young son and a child due in March, two employees, three trucks, and plenty of work.

The glass installation and repair business is booming, Mr. Leone told The Times. About half of his work is replacing automobile glass, the other half is commercial and residential glass work, installing and replacing custom showers, mirrors, and windows. He also replaces marine and construction equipment glass.

“This type of weather is really good for my business,” he said. “I replace more than 20 windshields a week some weeks during the winter because of pitting and cracks caused by sand and gravel thrown out on the road when it snows. We got 17 calls in one day last week.”

He has installed new glass on about every type of car made in the last 30 years, he said. Run-ins with deer and falling branches are among the more frequent causes of damaged auto glass on the Island. Unfastened hoods blown back into windshields and drivers backing into dumpsters, which he said seem to be almost always at just the right height, also contribute to the success of his business.

 More than 80 percent of his auto work is paid for by insurance, Mr. Leone said. Massachusetts has a zero deductible option that requires insurance companies to offer windshield replacement insurance with no deductible as long as you have comprehensive insurance on your vehicle, even if there is a deductible with the comprehensive insurance, according to the state office of consumer affairs.

Mr. Leone prefers to do the windshield replacements in his shop located on Lagoon Pond Road behind Island Color Center across from the Vineyard Haven post office, particularly when the weather is bad, but he does make house calls.

His busiest time of the year is spring when the auto glass work is still heavy and people want their glass showers installed or repaired before summer. He hires two or three more people during the busy months.

Mr. Leone credits his business success to his reliability. “What I say is what I’m going to do,” he said. “I learned that from my family. We are all work-a-holics. If you can’t make good on a promise, at the least make a phone call. You don’t want to be seen at the bar.”

He picked up business experience working in his family’s restaurant and moped businesses on Block Island where his parents still live. He learned the glass business from his grandfather, who he started helping when he was 13.

“Living on the Vineyard is not like living on an island for me after growing up on Block Island,” Mr. Leone said. Block Island is one tenth the size of the Vineyard with less than one twentieth of the population. The annual Groundhog Day census on Block Island last month recorded 975 winter residents, according to a clerk at the New Shoreham town hall, the only town on the Island.

Mr. Leone is proud of the education he received on his home island. “I graduated tenth in my high school graduating class,” he said pausing for effect, “of eight.” The Block Island School has about 125 students in grades K through 12.

Mr. Leone met his wife on Block Island where she summered for years. They have a five-year-old son and are expecting another child in May. He has three older children from another marriage. One is a freshman in college.

Ms. Leone handles the billing, the phones, and the office work, while Mr. Leone is very much a hands-on owner.

In his spare time, of which he said he has very little, he likes to fish, usually from his boat, and enters the Martha’s Vineyard Bass and Bluefish Derby from time to time. “I was too busy to fish the Derby this year, but last year I came in last place,” he declared. “I still don’t know how to fish the Vineyard waters as well as I know Rhode Island.” He has a habit of referring to Block Island as Rhode Island. “I would do much better in the Derby if I took my boat to Rhode Island.”

For a treat, nutritionists Prudence Athearn-Levy and Josh Levy cook up a great breakfast for each other. — courtesy Josh Levy and Prudence

Prudence Athearn-Levy and Josh Levy

What do we cook for each other to celebrate?
When we want to cook up a treat, it is usually breakfast. We both love big, healthy and hearty breakfasts. This always involves eggs, most likely 2 over-easy farm eggs with lots of sauteed fresh-picked greens (either from our garden or winter greenhouse, or from Morning Glory Farm fields or winter greenhouse), beans and/or sweet potatoes, spicy peppers like poblanos (that we roast and freeze in the summer to use all winter), cilantro from our greenhouse and sometimes avocado on top. Josh gets his with salsa and/or hot sauce (our own salsa in the summer, or Mr. G’s hot sauce all year). On the side of the plate we’ll arrange fresh fruit- berries and/or melon in the summer, and Florida oranges or pears in the winter.

Any advice on running a business together?
The most important thing to us, in business and at home, is communication. We would also say always stay humble and learn from each other every day.  Be true partners, both at work and home. Support each other and determine business goals clearly and together. Have a business plan — approach your business as a business and always set work and home boundaries (i.e. bringing work home is fine, but limit the amount of time you do work together at home — unless you work from home — so that you can focus on each other and family when you are home, and work when you are at work). Finally, divide the work! Each person doesn’t need to know every little detail of your work, as long as you keep each other informed and stay equal partners in decision making. Use your strengths and specialize or focus in a few areas that complement those of your spouse. Emphasize, encourage, and highlight each of your strengths and use them to your advantage to build a better business, and in our case, to serve our clients and community better.

Prudence Athearn and Josh Levy own Vineyard Nutrition.

Pete and Jenifer Smyth

Chef Smyth with his wife, Jenifer, and daughters Jocelyn, left, and Shealyn.
Chef Smyth with his wife, Jenifer, and daughters Jocelyn, left, and Shealyn.

What do you cook for a romantic evening with your wife?
(Laughs) We have two kids – there’s no romantic evenings. But I have to say that the thing I like to make if Jen and I are at home and don’t have the kids, is paella. That was the first dish I made for her when we had our first real dinner date at my apartment.

Pete’s Paella

2 lbs. chicken thighs, skin on and cut into small pieces
1/2 lb. chicken sausage sliced thin
1/2 lb. chorizo or spicy sausage
1 lb. shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 lb. mussels cleaned
2 cups of short grain white rice
1 onion diced
1 tomato diced
1 red pepper
2 teaspoons of oregano
1 pinch of saffron
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of thyme chopped
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 bunch parsley chopped (reserve some for later)
2 lemon zest (reserving one lemon for later)
1 qt. chicken stock
4 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
Lg skillet or paella pan
Reserved for later:  1 cup of peas

1. Heat two Tablespoons of olive oil in pan.
2. Salt and pepper chicken and let rest.
3. Add sausage to pan and lightly brown and drain saving oil.
4. Add chicken and brown well making skin crispy. Remove chicken and wipe pan.
5. Add two more Tablespoons of oil and cook vegetables and garlic lightly.
6. Add dry herbs, lemon zest, saffron and rice cooking lightly.
7. Add chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.
8. Bring to a boil and skim any stuff floating on top.
9. Cook for 5 minutes and stir rice well.
10. Add chicken and sausage and cook lightly for five minutes, skimming any thing from top of pan.
11. Cook on low to medium heat for about ten minutes.
12. Add mussels and shrimp making sure to push in rice mixture.
13. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, taste and season mixture with salt and pepper and a little heat
14. Shut off if rice is done and mussels are open. Fold in peas, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
15. Squeeze fresh lemon on top and add the rest of the parsley

This is close to what I made my wife for the first time. I unfortunately have an allergy to peppers so I had to alter it for me. This recipe is the one I use at Slice the couple of times I have made it.
– Pete Smyth, owner, with his wife Jenifer, of Slice of Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs.

Jim and Debbie Athearn

What’s your idea of the Perfect Date on MV?
Jim: Dinner at Outermost Inn or Beach Plum inn and a night in a friend’s
Chilmark camp.
Debbie: Dinner on the beach and sleep out overnight in the dunes.

What do you cook for your sweetie as a treat?
Debbie: for Jim, carrot cake.

Debbie and Jim Athearn say their idea of the perfect MV date includes The Beach Plum or Outermost Inn, and sleeping in the dunes.
Debbie and Jim Athearn say their idea of the perfect MV date includes The Beach Plum or Outermost Inn, and sleeping in the dunes.

How do you stay in business when you live with your partner?
We had identical responses. Divide the business responsibilities so each
knows who is in charge of each area, then defer completely to the authority
of the person in charge. Also, enjoy your mutual interest. When we are on
vacation we love to talk about business, say, on the highway. It’s interesting and we don’t need to deny ourselves that because we are on vacation.

Jim and Debbie Athearn run Morning Glory Farm.