Black Dog Tavern took menu, prices back in time

To celebrate 50 years, Tavern boasted 1971 prices, including 85 cent pancakes, 50 cent hot chocolate, and 90 cent chowder.

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Crowds of customers wait for orders and seats inside the Tavern Saturday afternoon. — Brian Dowd

Fifty years ago, Captain Robert Douglas opened the Black Dog Tavern. Fifty years later, prices are still the same — well, at least for one weekend.

Over the New Year’s weekend, the tavern reverted its menu to the 1971 original, even bringing back 1971 prices to celebrate 50 years in business. 

Speaking to The Times by phone, food and beverage director Chris LaPointe said the celebration was busy in the best way. “I knew it was going to be busy, especially with the pricing,” LaPointe said. “I mean, that’s aggressive pricing. I think that was more like 1932 pricing … it was nuts.”

The celebration weekend was one of the busiest weekends on the books for the Black Dog Tavern. After crunching the numbers, LaPointe said there were 5,300 orders for breakfast and lunch Friday through Saturday — almost three times as many orders as on a busy weekend in August, including dinner. The order numbers were even more impressive since the tavern limited indoor seating to 25 people, showing how popular takeout orders were.

The idea for the ’70s menu came from owner Robert Douglas Jr. and chief operating officer Dan Pucillo. The tavern keeps copies of its menus from each year, so it was easy to take a peek at some of the past prices.

For breakfast, three eggs with toast was $1.35, sundry omelets from $1.50, pancakes starting at 85 cents, waffles for $1.35, hot chocolate for 50 cents, and the most expensive breakfast item, turkey, was $1.75.

The lunch menu, slightly pricier, could still feed a family of five for under $10. Hamburgers were $1.85, reuben for $2.50, ham and cheese for $2, quahog chowder for 90 cents, chocolate pie for $1.25, and much more.

“It was nice that they did that. It was mostly for the community for doing 50 years. We wanted to do something to say thank you,” LaPointe said.

LaPointe had four hostesses working, which he said doesn’t even happen during busy summer weekends. LaPointe said customers were also kind to server staff and hostesses, leaving them generous tips, even with an $8 bill.

The tavern is closed for the next three months, due to the pandemic and to conduct maintenance on the building. Fans of the Black Dog can expect more celebrations throughout the year once the tavern opens back up, as the Island staple salutes 50 years.

“We’re going to take this time to do things that we normally can’t do because we’re open year-round. There’s a number of projects we’re going to do,” LaPointe said. “With the uncertainty of the pandemic and restrictions, it made sense, since we have two other food service locations in the town … three months will be here before you know it.”