Beloved Aquinnah restaurant may reopen

Tribal members look to revive the longtime Wampanoag-owned business. 

There are plans to open up the former Aquinnah Shop Restaurant property this summer. —Eunki Seonwoo

Islanders may be seeing the return of the former Aquinnah Shop Restaurant this summer. 

The news was revealed by Aquinnah Land Initiative (ALI) president Wenonah Madison during an Aquinnah Select Board meeting on Tuesday, although she did not specify what type of plans are in the works for the property. 

“There are plans to open this season, but they’re still being ironed out,” Madison told The Times, adding that more information will be released in the future. 

The property was acquired in August by a Cape Cod land organization called the Native Land Conservancy, which was founded and led by members of indigenous tribes, for $2 million. The organization was holding onto the property until the nonprofit ALI could fundraise the purchase cost. A Wampanoag-owned business will be leasing the property. 

A state grant called the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program was being pursued for the property acquisition, alongside $250,000 to research and test antierosion methods for the Aquinnah Cliffs, an area that is culturally area important to the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), and economically important to the town. This would add up to $2.25 million from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the state entity that manages the MVP program. Aquinnah climate and energy committee chair Bill Lake said the state was encouraging about ALI purchasing the former Aquinnah Shop Restaurant. He also said the state suggested broadening the erosion study scope, for example by including impacts to the freshwater supply. 

After some further discussion, the Aquinnah Select Board voted 2-0 to support the effort. Board member Gary Haley was absent from the meeting. The town will also be able to apply for the grant, and later give it to ALI, according to Lake.


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