A planned outdoor taquería at the historic Old Stone Bank property in Vineyard Haven is slated to be open for summer, according to developer Sam Dunn.
Dunn has also been working on a sit-down restaurant inside the main Old Stone Bank building, to be open for summer 2025 with seating for 85 patrons.
The taquería, meant to seat 70 people, is being built in the former bank’s drive-through area, behind the main building. Dunn says that this project has been in the works for a couple years; the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) approved it in February.
According to the MVC, Vineyard Haven’s Old Stone bank was designed in 1905 by architect J. Williams Beal in the Romanesque and Bungalow styles. It was built with local field stones, by local stonemason James Norton. The property has been vacant since 2017 when Santander Bank departed.
Dunn says that the taquería will have a summertime focus in operation and design. “The seasonal nature of this is of course what it’s all about. That’s the crucial thing. And that’s why an outdoor restaurant like this makes so much sense…Since you only have a seasonal market anyway you don’t need an indoor space.”
This outdoor setting will include a full-service bar, and will have retractable awnings.
Dunn adds that a window into an adjacent office building, visible from the taquería site, may be converted into a fishtank.
The taquería kitchen and restrooms will be located in a separate building next to the outdoor seating.
Dunn says that when open, the taquería will be equipped with lighting, as well as rich planting on the fencing around its site.
Dunn, noting the nearby Salvatore’s Ristorante Italiano, wants to contribute to the character of local dining when his taquería and sit-down restaurants are up and running. “I think when we get the other [sit-down restaurant] done up there, and [the taquería], and Salvatore’s, and the ones that are already on Main Street, it’s going to become a real dining destination,” he said.
Last Wednesday, Tisbury’s Select Board approved a wastewater flow request for Dunn’s planned 85-seat restaurant inside of the primary Old Stone Bank building. Next steps for that project involve permitting with the town planning board, and approval from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.
After a long period of vacancy in the Old Stone Bank building, there are now signs of recent work.
Inspired by the interior details, Dunn wants the sit-down restaurant to be a higher-end experience than the taquería. “This is going to be a much more formal place, because the space is that way. And there’s all this beautiful detailing and stuff up here, which will be restored,” he says.
Dunn pointed out a domed ceiling, stained-glass clerestory windows, and arched windows. “This is one of the very unique spaces on the Island,” he says. “There’s really nothing like it…This was built by a guy who marched to a different drummer, clearly.”
An unmistakable detail inside the building is the former bank’s vault. Dunn plans to turn this into a wine room, and use its deep vault door as a common table.
“It would be a tragedy, in my view, if this became a lawyer’s office or something like that,” Dunn added.