Mediterranean restaurant moves, expands
Mediterranean, for five years a popular restaurant on the Vineyard Haven waterfront, has moved to the building which formerly housed Lola's in Oak Bluffs. Owners Doug and Leslie Hewson served their first customers in the new venue last weekend, in what Mr. Hewson described as a "soft" opening. With no more advertising than word of mouth and a sign out by the road, 50 guests showed up for dinner on Saturday night and 50 more for brunch on Sunday. The Hewsons were delighted with the turnout, composed mostly of loyal customers at the Vineyard Haven location.
This is a perilous economy in which to expand a business. The new location is nearly five times larger than the Vineyard Haven restaurant, and the Hewsons will add liquor sales and nightly entertainment to the package. They have remodeled the building and will need to triple the staff. Yet the Hewsons, who now have two silent partners, are confident that the new venture will succeed. Ms. Hewson told The Martha's Vineyard Times that she has no fears, no doubt that this is the right thing to do. "We were ready to expand," she said.
Mr. Hewson stresses that the new restaurant is not really a change from the old. It will continue to be the same kind of restaurant, only now offering its customers more than its signature cuisine. The move to Oak Bluffs adds a wine list and a bar with a special menu, including tapas (Spanish hors d'oeuvres). Mediterranean now has space to offer entertainment - equal portions of live music and DJs. However, the new Mediterranean will not be open late at night, as Lola's was. The Hewsons plan to close before midnight. "We don't want to be a 'last call place,'" he said. "We want to be good neighbors."
Ms. Hewson does not think additional staffing will be a problem, even though the addition of a liquor license will mean that the Hewsons cannot hire as many high school students as they have in the past, and H-2B visas, in the past a source of temporary workers from overseas, are effectively frozen this year. However, the Hewsons' core staff will be coming to the new location. Many have been with them for years, including head waiter Gilbert Lorenzoni.
Ms. Hewson is confident that the restaurant's reputation will attract local workers. "We attract the best and the brightest," she said. She has also hired six foreign students who are here on J-1 visas from European culinary arts colleges.