A new restaurant is open at the Portuguese-American Club — serving sandwiches, snack plates, and salads, all made from scratch.
Veteran restaurateurs and chefs Maura Martin and Austin Racine created Mo’s Lunch — an old-style sandwich shop that brings the freshest ingredients to each menu item. The two Island businesspeople have helped establish and operate many of the beloved eateries that locals and seasonal visitors alike frequent. They first worked with each other at the ArtCliff Diner, and Racine owned Cafe Moxie in Vineyard Haven, until it burned down in 2008. Both Martin and Racine helped open State Road Restaurant and Beach Road Restaurant, along with Noman’s.
During the pandemic, Martin and Racine ran pop-up dinners at the P.A. Club in order to help the nonprofit bring in revenue through the financial crisis, as public events that would normally fund the club were rendered impossible due to COVID regulations.
“They weren’t bringing in as much money as they normally would because people couldn’t have functions, and the P.A. Club is really just this community hub where people who are in need, or schools who are having fundraisers, or if someone passes away and needs a place to have a memorial — that’s the place where most locals would go, because it’s affordable and a true place for Islanders,” Martin said.
In January, she said, the P.A. Club decided it needed to change its business model so it didn’t rely so heavily on member fees, so they offered Martin and Racine the opportunity to open their restaurant. Mo’s Lunch is open to all, with no P.A. Club membership required to enjoy the delicious food.
She added that the nostalgic, no-frills vibe of the P.A. Club goes well with the intended feel of Mo’s Lunch, and it also provides a necessary funding source for an important Island organization.
Martin is hoping Mo’s Lunch will serve as a go-to bite for working folks on Martha’s Vineyard, beachgoers who want to grab a drink and a sandwich after a long day in the sun, and families who want a delicious, homemade meal at a good price. “Having an affordable but high-quality restaurant that is year-round is important to me, because those are really the people I am working for — the people who live on the Island,” Martin said. “I obviously need the business of summer visitors, but I really wanted it to be locally focused.”
She said she is also excited to offer homemade sausage, pâtés, fresh-baked hoagie rolls for sandwiches, and sizable salads.
And with Mo’s Lunch, there’s no question that everything is handmade from scratch.
They’ll be roasting meat in-house, baking hoagie rolls coated in sesame seeds, and recreating an authentic New York–style deli scene that is lacking on-Island. “It’s something that I and lots of other people I know really love, but in Massachusetts, and on the Island, you can’t really find that experience,” Martin said.
Even the condiments and toppings at Mo’s Lunch are handmade — spreads, mustards, and preserves are all made by Martin and Racine at the P.A. Club.
A selection of tinned fish, shaved mortadella, country pâté, and assorted meats and cheeses adds to the deli feel of the restaurant.
Korilee Connelly, the former head baker at Morning Glory Farm, will also be working with Martin and Racine to spearhead the Mo’s Lunch bakery program.
She’ll be whipping up fresh-baked pies, cupcakes, and other treats for the creative rotating dessert menu.
“The idea is really authenticity and quality. We want to become that go-to place that is an easy choice for people, but also will always be changing up the menu and seeing what we can make next,” Martin said.
Mo’s Lunch is open at the P.A. Club Friday through Sunday, from 11 am to 8 pm. Martin and Racine will also be hosting themed dinners on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 4 pm to 8 pm. After Mo’s and the P.A. Club undergo a big plumbing project, the sandwich shop will be open every day during the week except Thursdays, from 11 am to 8 pm.