Interest, maybe soup soon, at Back Alley's
The aroma of baked goods may return soon to Back Alley's, the popular mid-Island mainstay for hungry Islanders and visitors looking for early morning coffee and pastry or lunchtime sandwiches.
Daniel Sauer and Wenonah Madison have applied for a special permit from the West Tisbury zoning board of appeals to operate a food counter and take-out business. Ice cream would also be available, and the emphasis would be on local products, according to a legal notice. A public hearing on the application will be held on April 8.
The husband and wife team are experienced in the food business. Mr. Sauer was formerly the chef at the Outermost Inn in Aquinnah. Ms. Madison has worked in the food service business in New York City. The couple has two young children.
In telephone conversation Wednesday, Ms. Madison said she preferred not to speak about the proposed business, because several hurdles still remain, including a still to be negotiated lease with the Wampanoag tribe, owner of the building.
With the summer approaching quickly, the couple is anxious to move the project forward.
In an email statement to The Times in response to a request for comment, Durwood Vanderhoop, tribal planner, said, "The Tribe is in negotiations with a prospective tenant to lease the Back Alley's facility. Given the sensitive nature of negotiations, we cannot comment on the negotiations or the prospective tenants directly at this time. The Tribe's goal for Back Alley's is to lease it to a tenant that will be seen as a long-term, positive addition to the community. We hope to offer more information when a lease is finalized."
The location has been vacant since November 2, when Paul Garcia, owner of Garcia's Deli, unexpectedly shut his doors and moved out. In a story published on November 5 ("Garcia's closes over rent hikes") just days after he closed his business, The Times reported that Mr. Garcia said his annual rent was more than $60,000 annually, in addition to additional rent in the form of a percentage of the business's gross sales.
The tribe bought Back Alley's café from former owner Howard Ulfelder in the spring of 1999. The tribe opened Back Alley's as a café in summer 1999, selling sandwiches and baked goods. The doors closed abruptly in February 2001, when the manager left, citing differences with the tribe.
The facility remained vacant until August 2002, when the tribe made a deal with Mr. Garcia and Back Alley's reopened as Garcia's.