Right Fork Diner will not reopen

Edgartown is reviewing three bids for new restaurants to take over the plane-viewing space.

The Right Fork Diner will not reopen at its Katama Airfield location this summer.

After 15 years, the Right Fork Diner, the popular Katama Airfield eatery, will not reopen this year.

Speaking to The Times by phone Friday, diner owner Jamie Langley said she will not be submitting a lease bid to the town after it began looking for tenants through a new request for proposals (RFP).

The town of Edgartown owns the Katama Airfield, and has leased the restaurant building to Langley and Right Fork Diner for the past 15 years. The Katama Airfield Commission is the property’s landlord.

Langley said she ran the numbers with her accountant, and determined her business would no longer be financially viable. “They wanted to increase the revenue stream of the rent there, and that made it not realistic for me to run a business out of there,” Langley said. “I thought we could work to a mutual agreement that could benefit both the airfield commissioners and myself as a business owner that has been there for 15 years, but we couldn’t agree on something.”

In a Nov. 13 letter to the commission, Langley wrote she would not be extending her current lease beyond its Feb. 28, 2021, expiration date, but asked the commission for a new three-year lease with terms and conditions that Langley wrote would enable her “to continue to grow my business at the Right Fork Diner premises for years to come.”

Langley requested the commission make several improvements to the restaurant building, including repairing the chimney, replacing the roof, and redesigning and replacing the basement, while Langley would install a walk-in refrigerator, raw bar and deck, a deck awning, redesign the walkway, and replace the restaurant’s flooring at her own expense. The lease called for a rent payment of $50,000.

The commission responded with a letter dated Dec. 8 that it would not extend Langley’s lease, and would instead publish an RFP.

The RFP was released in March, with terms including a seven-year lease with the option to extend for two three-year periods, and a lease payment of $40,000 in the first year that would increase by 4 percent to $50,000 in the seventh year, with incentives for larger bids. 

Speaking to The Times by phone, commission chairman Harald Findlay said that the only way to meet some of Langley’s requests forced the commission to go out for a rebid.

“We have great respect for Jamie; she built that business up, and really catered very well to the rental properties in the Katama beach area,” he said. “To our surprise, she decided not to rebid it.”

Findlay said the commission has received three proposals, from Backyard Taco, the Edgartown Diner, and Jesse Strauss, the son-in-law of Wheel Happy owner Phil Hughes.

Langley said last summer was especially difficult for her restaurant, with business down by as much as 60 percent from the previous year. “We still managed to do well. I had a great staff, and our customers came out in droves,” she said. “I just barely broke even, and that was great.”

While the diner won’t be at the airfield, Langley said she will remain on-Island, and is keeping her eyes and ears open. For now, she’s got a pop-up planned with the Kelley House, and will do some meal delivery and catering.

“We’ll stay busy, but we’ll regrettably not be in the place that started it all for us. That’s the part that’s the hardest. The community we’ve developed,” she said. 

Langley said opening the diner was an opportunity that fell into her lap after former airport manager Michael Creato offered her the gig. “I had been in the restaurant industry for some time,” she said. “I said yes, and that’s where it all started.

“I can’t believe how much it’s grown since the little place that it was. When it first started, it was paper plates and plastic forks and knives, self-service. Then it became real plates, and serveware, and dinners.”

The airfield’s restaurant has a long history in town. For many years it was a snack shack, until the town bought the property in 1983 and Mel’s Diner occupied the space. In 2005, Langley took over. 

The change of restaurant isn’t the only new development at the airfield. In October, the town demolished the old World War II hangar, and is in the process of completing a replacement hangar.

“I’m leaving begrudgingly; this is not because I want to leave,” Langley said.


  1. Big loss- what a pleasant and nice restaurant to be able to grab a bite while renting homes in the area or on your way hoofing it to the beach.

  2. How can Edgartown make such a decision to RFP the Right Fork Diner that was so successfully managed and became a popular place to take family and friends for breakfast, lunch. Always a family atmosphere, good food, reasonable prices and excellent service. Jamie Langley her staff and members of the family that at times helped out, deserved better as a business like this was nurtured by Jamie over the Covid business downturn.
    Always thought Edgartown savored tradition
    and value that its residents contribute to this special community and that botttom line is not the ultimate decision making
    I am very disappointed with the approach the town took in this case.

  3. Awful to increase the rent amidst a pandemic with someone who’s rented for 15 years at the airstrip in Katama and the townspeople and tourists have enjoyed it immensely. Sad…

  4. It truly is sad that the town was willing to spend millions of dollars to replace and in large a hanger that is only used by a few pilots. That is all taxpayer money. Yet they won’t maintain a building to allow a business to exist that has served the town and its citizens as well as the tourist industry extremely well. Not sure where the nearsightedness goes is that the Airport commission or our select people. The fact is the improvements the current tenant wanted I am sure are still going to need to be done. Leaky roofs do not fix themselves.

    • Amen! Investing north of a million taxpayer dollars to house three planes while investing nothing in the Diner is upside down. The Airfield also costs the taxpayers money on an operating basis. Ms Langely has turned a small side show into the main event with hard work, good judgment and efficient management. Her rent subsidizes the Airfield operation. An investment by the Town in her business would be good for a huge segment of the taxpaying population of Edgartown. Why the Airfield commission is in charge of a restaurant is beyond me. They appear to be a small closed group that act on their own behalf with little accountability.

  5. I’m sorry to read this. Right Fork has always been so special and Jamie made it that way. Best wishes for the future!

  6. We are very sorry to see the Right Fork restaurant shut down. Living in Katama it was a wonderful place for breakfast and lunch WITHOUT having to deal with downtown traffic. The food was excellent – our guests enjoyed it watching planes land and take off – all in all a true Vineyard experience.

  7. Sad that repairs not made and high rent without A thought to someone who ran a wonderful diner for 15 years. Come on Edgartown!

  8. Who values a higher bid over the livlihood of a good person with an established, lovely, genuine little diner at the magical Katama Airfield? How could you not make it your business to work with Ms Langley to ensure her continuation of the charming Right Fork Diner for the continued enjoyment of the island and summer community? Why weren’t you willing to work out a fair deal with her, knowing how hard she has worked on it and knowing her established integrity and how how hard small businesses have been hig in these pandemic times? How could you allow that to happen? Trying to blame it on her because she asked for a fair deal? When you value revenue over people, you have sold your souls to the devil. I find this very sad.

  9. Is it possible the Town might want to revisit this decision? Right Fork Diner is a fav ‘mongst visitors lucky enough to find it, as well as year-round folk. I’d happily wait near an hour to get a table, and for several years have taken guests with me who have enjoyed it as much as I have. Certainly if my tenant’s roof were leaking I’d be on the hook to fix it, not her! Sounds like these are modest requests, and the payback to the town not only monetarily but in good will would be well worth it!

  10. Always made a visit their while on Vaca from Pennsylvania .All restaurants just made it the past year or closed and had to use a lot of their own money to stay afloat , One more year of same rent would not of made much of a difference to Town ,, given her time to make a profit again this summer and bring the business back.. As my Mom always said ,, It’s not like it use to be

  11. For a town that can spend millions to buy a building only to then sell it at a sizeable loss a few years later this decision to not meet a sitting, long term tenant’s request for improvements is outrageous. Where is the loyalty. Especially in time of Covid. Jamie did a masterful job last summer navigating the situation. Edgartown, be embarrassed, reconsider.

  12. Very disappointed to read this news!
    I was looking forward to the Right Fork Diner opening again, because I had never been there and heard so much about it. I was planning to make a special trip for brunch—and the Katama Air Field experience.

    Ejecting this business sounds like an ill-considered decision. As reported here, it looks like a PR fail for the Airport Commission.

    BTW, what kind of landlord lets a leaky roof persist? This compromises the value of the *whole* building. Mold, anyone?

    The reported chain of events also casts a shadow over the next tenant, unfortunately for that party.

  13. Didn’t E’town also kick The Trustees out of the Katama farm? We loved their family dinners and the day camp. But that wasn’t the right focus, per E’town.

  14. The Right Fork Diner offered good food in a relaxed, pleasant environment. It was delightful any time of day. The kids loved it. The Town should have done better.

  15. A very disappionting decision. Is there any reconsideration prospect or appeal, except to heaven?
    We seem to be loosing icons left and right. Chilmark Chocolates and now the Right Fork. At least it was the decision of the owners of Chilmark Chocolates. The Right Fork Diner always had great food at fair prices and a pleasant staff. Hard to beat.

  16. The Langleys and all of Edgartown residents and voters should ask: is there the same bid process for the management of the Visitor’s Center and Post Office on Church Street, now that the Toomeys have departed? Or, might I smell a resident VTA rat there being fed corn by the Selectmen? Just wondering ….. I don’t know the answer but I hope Brian Dowd finds out for us.

  17. Very sad to read about another beloved Island business closing. I hope Jamie does reopen somewhere but that location was sweet, unique. The almighty dollar again.

  18. I agree wholeheartedly with all of the above comments. Jamie and her family worked tirelessly during the pandemic and before to make RFD the place to go to for an wonderful breakfast lunch and dinner experience. She was always quick with a hello and a smile. We are in the neighborhood and will miss being able to hop on over without dealing with the downtown traffic. Edgartown should seriously consider what it means to support local families as well as tourists. It is shameful behavior on the part of the town.

  19. RFD made a business decision to not reopen. They ran a great business but all this despair over losing an island “institution” is silly . 15 years is not a long time. People are reacting as if Edgartown decided to tear down The Whaling Church. Get over it. Perhaps the next tenants will surpass all expectations.

    • John–The town made a financial decision to make it financially untenable for Jamie to continue to do business there. I am a bit surprised that you are so anti business.

      • The town made a financial decision. They decided to charge the going rate for a restaurant property. My guess is that someone can make a profit at the rate the Town wants to charge.

      • I wish her well but the fact that 3 other businesses are interested in the property at the going rate just show that the airport commission is working in the best interests of the taxpayers.

    • John
      I think there is a little more to it than that. My understanding is that RFD wanted to renew but asked for what seems like reasonable improvements to the structure – like a roof. Now that RFD has proven to be a big draw, the airport commission seems to be wanting to cash in on the equity built up by RFD. They “use” the rental income from the Diner to subsidize what is otherwise a cash losing proposition in the Airfield itself. As the Town owns the Airfield and the Diner, it would seem that the town should have more control. As it stands, the few that own airplanes benefit at the expense of alternative uses of public funds – $1.25 million for the new hangar and public assets – the diner. I hope that the next tenants do a good job but if the commission had just given reasonable responses to reasonable requests, it would have been a certainty as it has for the last 15 years. The taxpayers own the property, it seems that they would have supported that result but did not get the chance to weigh in.

  20. What a short sighted stupid decision. I have lived on the Island for 40 years & summered over 10 years before that. With all the places my family dined out on, Right Fork was among the few that topped the list. My husband & grandchildren loved eating outdoors & watching the planes, the food was consistently good (and that’s a biggie for this Island where chefs change frequently & places don’t always hold up year to year). More important it was food for “foodies” which we as adults were & food our kids loved as well. Hard to find a restaurant with that kind of balance. And the price was right on an Island where I’ll discreetly try to say, it’s usually not for ordinary Islanders. It was the last restaurant my late husband dined at, with our family some six years ago – and it was one of the best meals out that summer.

    • What is the average cost per square for of restaurant space on the Island? How much is the Town of Edgartown trying to get? For the Town of Edgartown to charge less is not fair to the taxpayers.

  21. Will anticipate the announcement of the opening of the “new” Right Fork in one of the other MV towns – preferably one with a heart.

  22. Raising rents is a common occurence in life. Many islanders rent their homes and raise rents due to cost increases. Stores raise their prices. Meat and other groceries have gone up over the years and social security often gives us a COLA increase. The tenant wanted improvements and the landlord needed to raise the rent. Why all the eye rolling and gnashing of teeth. Thats life. MV Times charged us last year for online subscription in order to cover new increases in costs. Do we want all charges to remain constant in everything or just to a favorite restaurant?

  23. Many people enjoyed relaxing at this well known island spot. Restaurant owners and workers have been hit badly because of Covid. Jamie did a nice job. Locals and visitors are disappointed.
    Maybe decision makers can re-consider.

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