Better call Kahl

Andrew Kahl brings a remarkable set of skills to the table.


Andrew Kahl is 34 years old, making him a millennial. And when you look at the characteristics ascribed to millennials, one thing that stands out is that they often seek out diverse working experiences. And whoever wrote that must have had Andrew Kahl in mind, who over his career has put together a résumé that includes disk jockeying, car detailing, carpentry and cabinet making, property management to the rich and famous, roasting coffee beans, and running a coffeehouse. 

Kahl is an Island kid who grew up in Chilmark; his father was a carpenter and his mother taught at the Chilmark School. You could say that he first showed a penchant for entrepreneurship in the eighth grade, when he started DJing for the Boys and Girls Club, for private parties, and later for the Kelly Peters Dance Troupe. 

And because Kahl doesn’t do things halfway, his interest in DJing would lead to him building his own sound systems, which in turn led him to installing stereo speakers in cars. At MVRHS, Kahl, who already had some carpentry skills from working with his father, signed up for the Building Trades program, knowing that he eventually wanted to work with his hands. 

And a serendipitous moment came when Kathy Holiday, who owned a furniture store in Vineyard Haven called 151, got in touch with the Building Trades department looking for a student who might be able to work as a handyman at her store. Taking Building Trades gave Kahl a lot of free time, and even though he was still DJing and working weekends at Jim Young’s cabinetry shop, he took the job. “I’ve always felt comfortable working nonstop, seven days a week,” Kahl said.

Coincidentally, Holiday’s husband, Jeff Carlson, was the manager of the Vineyard Golf Club, and one of the members mentioned to him that he was looking for a caretaker at Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, one of the most beautiful estates on the Island — the Obamas once vacationed there — and Carlson thought that Kahl might be right for the job. When Kahl drove out to take a look at the property, “The place was lit up like a Christmas tree, even though there was no one there,” Kahl said. “Apparently someone had installed an early version of a smart home system which controlled the lights from a keypad, and no one knew how to use it.”

But Kahl, with his experience gained from wiring speaker systems, was able to figure out the system, and he wrote up a manual to share with the owners. And that’s what clinched Kahl getting the job at Blue Heron Farm. 

By his senior year, Kahl was able to graduate halfway through the year, and during that year he was not only managing Blue Heron Farm, he was living there full-time. He was still working at Jim Young’s cabinet shop, at Kathy Holiday’s store, doing the odd DJing gig, and he had begun detailing cars, which proved to be a real passion. He called his company Meticulous MV, and it was so successful that after the school year ended, he elected to go to Pompano Beach, Fla., and work on car detailing there full-time.

Kahl looks back at his time in Florida as a learning experience, but for various reasons, the detailing business never panned out fully when he returned to the Island. 

“On the Vineyard, people might get their cars detailed once or twice a year, and it might take me two or three hours per car,” Kahl said. But in Florida, people get their cars detailed once a week, and it would take Kahl only about 15 minutes per car, so from a financial standpoint the numbers just didn’t work out here. 

While Kahl was in Florida, he also became a partner in a cabinetry business that actually did well, but after four years in Florida, he decided to call it quits and move back to the Vineyard with his girlfriend, Natalie Grewal. Natalie’s from British Columbia, and Kahl met her when she was on the Vineyard working at the Youth Hostel and at Back Alley’s. 

Kahl had bought a mobile van with a compressor he took to people’s houses for car-detailing jobs in Florida, so he brought the van to the Vineyard, and slipped back into the groove of wearing many hats — detailing cars, managing properties, and doing construction work. He called his business AMK Concepts.

As of this writing, while Kahl is no longer detailing cars, except occasionally for his property management clients, he manages about 13 properties, including some of the most beautiful estates on the Island, and his construction business is going strong. 

These days Kahl has another passion to focus on. In the back of Andrew and Natalie’s minds, they always dreamed of running a little restaurant, and when the space where Che’s Lounge, a small coffeehouse in Vineyard Haven, was became available, they jumped on it.

In 2014, not only did Andrew and Natalie get married, they signed the lease to the Che’s Lounge space and began plans for Nat’s Nook, a creperie and coffeehouse. “Growing up, some families might love waffles or pancakes as a breakfast specialty, but our thing was crepes,” Kahl said. “We grew up loving crepes.”

The other thing both Andrew and Natalie had a passion for was good coffee; they’d often plan trips around where they could find great coffee shops. And Andrew even gave some thought to roasting his own beans. 

Nat’s Nook was basically Natalie’s baby, she ran the shop; but even so, it might be fair to ask, with everything else on his plate, when would Kahl find time to get into the coffee business? But to think that is to not know Andrew Kahl very well. “Because my wife and I share a lot of the same interests and she has drive as well, it makes it all manageable,” Kahl said. “At the end of the day, we’ll have dinner and I’ll play with the kids, but it’s not like I’m going to spend the rest of the evening watching TV. I’d prefer to have something going on that I’m passionate about. Natalie and I will sit there and talk about things and make plans for the future.”

When I walked into the Kahls’ house in Edgartown, the elephant in the room turned out not to be a pachyderm, but rather a coffee roaster about the size of a small Zamboni, located in a room off the living room. A few years ago, Kahl decided to try his hand at roasting his own beans, and started out with a small roaster about the size of a microwave located in his kitchen that the Kahls used for their personal consumption. 

The next step was a larger machine that was dropped into the basement, but Kahl seemed to have a real knack for coffee roasting, and he thought that he might want to take his beans to market, so he bought a Mill City roaster that could roast a greater volume of beans, and that’s what I saw in the room off the living room. And last winter he had his first commercial success.

One of Kahl’s friends is Steve Bowen, who owns Waterside Restaurant and La Soffitta in Vineyard Haven. Kahl made Bowen an offer. “I said if I can demonstrate that my coffee is better than what you have,” Kahl said, “then you have to buy your coffee from me.” Which is exactly what happened, and with that, Kahl had his first commercial customer.

Kahl has also partnered with Bowen on a new restaurant called Fish, located next to Waterside. “Most of my involvement was upfront,” Kahl said. “I constructed a full-blown commercial kitchen. But I do like getting involved in real estate.”

Kahl said something to me the afternoon I was at his house that spoke to his need to explore his passions, and to always try to keep things fresh. “If I’m looking to hire someone,” he said, “I always say, If you’re looking to do the same thing day after day, this may not be the place for you. One day you’re doing high-end cabinetry, the next day you could be washing someone’s car.” 

And that’s the gospel according to Andrew Kahl. Keep it fresh, keep it real, aAnd don’t be afraid to work your tail off.


  1. What a story! Andrew, if you are reading this, please consider charging less for your coffee — it might be nice for those of us who live here to actually buy it. Stiff competition with Chilmark Coffee and if you know coffee, which I do, there’s no need to milk the Vineyard brand and overcharge — you can get high-end Kona beans from Hawaii for about the same price. C’mon. Sounds like with all that work activity there’s no need to bring up the prices. Up to you.

    • Hi Jack, The coffee Andrew markets is East to West Coffee. A price comparison shows he is below the other two island brand competitors. I believe there was some confusion as to which coffee company was his. I like your idea of local residents being able to buy local products at an affordable price. Andrew, if you are reading this, maybe an island resident discount could be considered?

  2. Call back when you say when you will,
    Show up when you say you will,
    Finish the job when you state that you will,
    Leave the site cleaner than when you started.
    And, oh yeah, a sense of humor always helps!

    Andrew is the Real Deal.

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