Steve Bernier on the mend

After Boston hospitalization, Cronig's owner expected home before Thanksgiving.

Steve Bernier, shown here in April, is recovering from COVID-19 in a Boston hospital. -Rich Saltzberg

Updated Nov. 24

Cronig’s owner Steve Bernier spent over a week in a Boston hospital after being airlifted from the Vineyard due to a serious COVID-19 infection. His wife, Constance Messmer, told The Times Saturday that his condition continues to improve, and with luck, he will come back to the Vineyard within a week. Messmer later specified she expected to bring Bernier home Tuesday.

In an email that Messmer said encompassed the thoughts of Bernier’s entire family, she wrote, “Steve and his family are touched by, and appreciate, the outpouring of concern, prayer, support, and love. We would like to thank all the Healthy Additions and Cronig’s staff, community, parking lot volunteers, and especially the first responders and M.V. Hospital staff, along with Dr. Currier’s evaluation and decisions that led Steve on his journey for treatment and recovery. He is currently receiving needed care in Boston … and yes, that was his first helicopter ride, though he still prefers the ferry. Steve thanks God he was able to get a room in one of our great hospitals in Boston, as so many other families across our state are having to utilize them at this time. 

“Right now he is dealing with the effects of COVID, which include pneumonia. The Boston hospital staff are working on his heart and lung issues related to the virus and treatment for his recovery, to hopefully make the transition home by Thanksgiving. He says after a couple of days of at-home rest, he’ll be ready to serve our caring community, eager to be back with his staff, at his desk and, of course, in the parking lot. Right now, he says, “Recovery is a work in progress.”

In a follow-up telephone conversation, Messmer said Bernier had been hit with severe double pneumonia. Nevertheless, she said, Bernier and his family were fortunate the infection was not worse. He’s been on oxygen, she noted, but never a ventilator. 

“I was a puddle of tears for so many days,” she said. 

Messmer said her 72-year-old husband’s good level of physical fitness helped him weather the infection. “He exercises every day,” she said.

Another boost for Bernier was learning folks had showed up at the grocery store parking lot to do the sweeping and cleaning he routinely does himself. Messmer said Bernier was “really touched” by the gesture, as she was herself.

Messmer said the outpouring of concern has been significant. So much so, folks have been calling everywhere, including to hospital administration, to ask about Steve. Some have even reached him in his room. While it’s touching, she said she’s in “Momma Bear mode” now, and asked that folks refrain from reaching out to Bernier on the phone because his lungs remain delicate. What she described as his irrepressible love of connecting with the community will compel him to talk on the phone, and that will get in the way of the mending process for his lungs. For folks who want to share their sentiments, she recommended that they send a card or letter to Cronig’s at P.O. Box 698, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.

Messmer also recommended they familiarize themselves with the CDC’s symptoms for novel coronavirus infection, and practice social distancing, wear masks, and wash their hands frequently. 

One of the best tributes people can pay to Steve and to what she calls “his other family,” the staff at Cronig’s, is to donate to the Island Food Pantry. 

As of Saturday afternoon, she said, Bernier was “feeling good,” and has improved oxygen levels. When he gets home, she said he will need rest, and reminded folks not to call him so he doesn’t tax his lungs. 

“We’re blessed,” she said. 

Updated with the day Bernier is anticipated to return to the Vineyard. 




    • Such very good news for all of us and especially Constance and family. Steve has always been “ family”. Hope his recovery is speedy and complete ( and that he can get himself to rest and take it slowly!)????????

  1. Thank you for this well written article! My prayers to Stephen, Constance and family. I will absolutely heed the families request to give Stephen time to heal, we want him back to his old self with complete healing.

  2. Steve is a great man. He is in great condition for his age too. This should serve as a wake up call as those who are not in good health and smoke, drink, diabetes etc. don’t often make it. Be like Steve. Be fit.

  3. To Mr. Steve Bernier, from one of the thousands of guys you met while sweeping. I think it was 2010, my bud had lost his license, and his wife would drop him off in the up island parking lot. Grab some lunch at 715 am and there was this guy sweeping, like old school ,bin on wheels ; he wouldn’t take your help either. Bud tells me, that’s the owner. We had some great morning chats. Then affordable housing at 5 corners, and all the other wonderful things in and out of the public eye, for your employees ,and an island discount; You’re a great guy Mr. Steve, Keep getting better , we’re all rooting for you

  4. Sending loads of hugs and prayers for you Bermies!! Can’t wait to see your smiling face again at Cronigs and even more importantly can’t wait for that huge hug I receive most times I see you!❤️

  5. So happy to hear you are doing better and will soon return to the Vineyard. I have missed pointing out the spots you missed on the parking lot. Miss you.

  6. My prayers and love are with you and Contance and your family… I’ve known Steve for a long long time and he is one of my very best friends on the island… When I come up north, For six months one of my first places to go is upstairs to get my hug and a five minute conversation.. One year Steve and I gave my Herb a surprise birthday party in the back of the store at night… We have great memories and I won’t call you until your birthday January 1…much love, Billie

  7. Dear Steve and all the employees at Cronigs and Healthy Addition: I’m so sorry that the Bernier family and Cronigs has gone through this terrifying time. But I am so grateful for the reminder that we are a family. Dysfunctional at times, perhaps; but, at our best, a caring community, thankful for those who give so much to us. Thank you, Constance, for your beautiful note.

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