A popular Oak Bluffs eatery is on the move. A request to transfer the location and license of Red Cat Kitchen to the site of the former Oyster Bar 02557 was approved unanimously by the Oak Bluffs select board Tuesday evening.
Owner Ben DeForest brought the request forward after the Oyster Bar 02557 and its sister restaurant, the Cardboard Box, both closed in September. Both were located at 6 Circuit Ave.
Last fall, owners of the three establishments, Ben and Erica DeForest, cited various obstacles that came with running multiple restaurants on Martha’s Vineyard, and announced their intention to focus on the Red Cat Kitchen
The Red Cat had endured its difficulties. It was forced into temporary closure after the buildings’ landlords, who had recently acquired the property, opted to undergo massive renovations.
The 14 Kennebec location from which Red Cat had been operating since 2012 was sold in 2019 by Thomas G. Ward and Carol L. Hulak to Chilmark resident and Los Angeles record producer Gary Jones, and select board member Brian Packish — operating as GJ & BP Holdings LLC. It sold for $690,000.
In 2020, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission approved plans to demolish the site’s building and construct a replacement structure — to be called the Menotomy.
In August of last year, Packish returned to the commission, and said that the project was delayed due to various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Demolition was expected in the fall. He requested a minor modification to the construction schedule. But after that request to extend the project’s timeline was not immediately approved by commissioners, Packish abruptly opted to pull the request, essentially affecting the building — and Red Cat’s — ability to open by Memorial Day 2023.
At Tuesday’s select board meeting, DeForest said the plans for the rehomed Red Cat Kitchen are fairly straightforward. The restaurant will begin operating at its new location April 1, and remain open until midnight through the summer, he said. The season will end Dec. 31.
“We’re going to run a nice, busy, quiet ship, so to speak,” he said. “We’re going to try to draw from some of the things that were so great about the old building, and bring them over to the new.”
With no comment or concern from select board members, the request was quickly approved in a 4-0 vote. Packish recused himself.
The select board also approved a new business, a common victualler, and entertainment license for Mikado Hawaiian BBQ and Sushi. That will be located at the former Cardboard Box location, just under the upcoming Red Cat. The request was brought to the board by Mikado owner Yu Xi, who operates the restaurant’s Tisbury location. Mikado’s Oak Bluffs location will be hosting a soft opening April 1.
In other business, the board voted to award the Healy Square/Kennebec Avenue portion of the town’s streetscape master plan’s request for proposals (RFP) to Lawrence Lynch Corp. In December, the town opted to reissue the proposal after estimated bid costs came in higher than anticipated.
There is $964,756 left in the account to fund this phase of the streetscape, Town administrator Deborah Potter told the board Tuesday. The base bid is $931,135, which allows the town flexibility to look into some of the design specifics that were deemed not essential but preferred.
Also on Tuesday, James Tripp, longtime Oak Bluffs employee, announced his retirement after decades of service to the town. Tripp started out with the town in the forestry department, and has served in the highway department for the past 33 years, Oak Bluffs highway superintendent Richard Combra said. Since 1981, Tripp has worked as a forestry laborer, maintenance craftsman, and a heavy equipment operator.
“Mr. Tripp is also a success story as far as our personnel retention,” Potter said, adding that Tripp will continue working with the town in a limited capacity.
Tripp has been “very committed to the town of Oak Bluffs,” Combra said. “[We] couldn’t ask for a better guy. We’re going to miss him a lot.”