Art Cliff Diner
September sees a seasonal shift — from summer to fall, from beach bathers to wedding wishes, and from the busy bustle to a slower speed. Some would say the season is over. Not the Art Cliff Diner, whose “Open for the Season” sign was hung outside in mid-September, just in time to warm up the summer lovers who were starting to fear the first frost. After almost two years of renovations, the décor may look new, but the menu (and parking lot) has the same, beloved, and tasty chaos with everything from frittatas to French toast.
Winter weather can make it challenging to get outside, and difficult to get to the Island, but local businesses with online shops and nationwide shipping are making it easy to get Vineyard products anywhere on or off-Island. Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt offers a variety of raw salts, including seasonal flavors such as the Cookie-Cocoa-Coffee holiday salt blend, in their online shop (marthasvineyardseasalt.com). Island Bee Company sells honey and wax products, straight from the hive to their online shop (islandbeecompanymv.com). Martha’s Vineyard Coffee Co. sells coffee, caps, and canvas totes on their site (marthasvineyardcoffeeco.com). Chilmark Coffee Company caters to the winter whimpers by selling through their online shop only in the off-season (chilmarkcoffeeco.com). And when it’s time to wash it all up, Flat Point Farms sells their goat milk soap on Etsy (flatpointfarm.com).
Island Food Pantry
The Island Food Pantry might be one of the few Island establishments that gets busier in the winter, as seasonal work and pay slows down. Currently located at the Portuguese American Club in Oak Bluffs (but soon to move to a new, roomier location on Dukes County Avenue), the Island Food Pantry supplies fresh and frozen food, including locally made meals from their new year-round kitchen, to 4,200 registered people. To stock their shelves, some food comes from the Greater Boston Food Bank, but more and more, the Food Pantry has to rely on donations to buy food. To support the Island Food Pantry, and to support our Island community, volunteers, food, and monetary donations are accepted. Volunteers, especially those who are bilingual, are needed for a variety of tasks and times. Food donations, partially those found on their online wish list, can be dropped off at various food collection bins around the Island, including at Cronig’s and Stop & Shop. Lastly, but most importantly right now, monetary donations of any amount can be sent through their website, from anywhere in the world (igimv.org/about-island-food-pantry).
The Loud Kitchen
This year, the Ritz Café is getting a little bit better, and a little bit louder. Chef Canieka Fleming has turned the lights on and the music up in the Ritz’s kitchen. The menu features customizable wing options and Southern-style sides, all with vegan or gluten-free options. Dinner takeout is available Tuesday through Sunday, or whenever the lights are on. The party doesn’t stop there though; every Sunday, in collaboration with the Ritz and DJ Smooth B, Loud Kitchen will be serving a boozy brunch, with everything from loud chicken and red velvet waffles to spiked coffee.
Cozy Corner Café
As winter weather settles in for the long haul, finding an open oasis to cuddle up with a coffee can feel like an elite sport, running between seasonal closures on Martha’s Vineyard. The Cozy Corner Café, cornered between year-round businesses in the Edgartown Triangle, provides a convenient, welcoming, and warm spot to eat, drink, work, or watch the post office dramas unfold across the street. The European-style coffee shop aims to be inclusive and provide something for everyone. The kitchen serves everything from vegan wraps to cookie milkshakes. Designated work space will be set up with glass barriers, Wi-Fi, and a printer for remote workers. Multiple televisions and a massage chair are available for those looking to relax. Special themed events are planned to pop-up through the winter. The Cozy Corner Café is going to be open all year, giving Vineyarders a home away from home, at home.
After a summer of watching oysters fall off of paper plates, local raw bar shucker Job Deforest is launching Boxroxs: eco-friendly oyster trays. Each tray has six shallow wells, designed to keep oysters upright, and to keep their tasty juices marinating in the shell instead of dripping down your shirt. Each well has enough room for shaved ice, and an oyster of any size. The trays are made of bagasse, a sugarcane byproduct, that will break down 90 days after use, providing a functional and ecological alternative to paper plates. The trays will be available for purchase on Amazon.
Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, with the help of a MassTrails Grant, has opened a universal access trail loop at their Huckleberry Barrens property in Katama. This trail is open to everyone, with inclusive features such as handicap parking and braille signage. The trail is being lined with native plants for everyone to see, smell, touch, and eat. Seasonal shrubs, such as beach plums, blueberries, huckleberries, and hazelnuts, are being planted for free foraging. With universal access and free snacks along the way, there is no excuse not to enjoy this beautiful bit of nature.
Amity Island Run Club
The name Amity might make you think of someone running away from the jaws of a killer shark, and if you saw the Amity Island Run Club in action, you might think that’s what was happening. Surprisingly, they do that for fun, nothing is chasing them. Every Thursday, all winter long, the run club takes over the streets of Edgartown, with walkers and runners dripping in reflective gear and sweat, before celebrating their achievement with a social, usually at Town Bar & Grill. Everyone is welcome, regardless of speed or skill. There are also various races and challenges throughout the winter to keep you on track. Starting in December, the festive Santa Run and the Boys and Girls Club Holiday Hustle 5K should prepare you to run or walk at least one mile a day during the January Movement Challenge, leading into the ultimate 10 or 20-mile run as part of the MV Winter Classic and Amity Relay.
West Tisbury Library Community Fridge
The West Tisbury library has opened a free fridge, a freedge as they call it, for anyone looking for an afterschool snack, a quick bite, or help to supplement their grocery budget. The specially made fridge and pantry is stocked with frozen meals, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and snack donations from Island organizations, local farms, and people in the community. To support, the library is accepting donations of unexpired, unopened canned or dried goods, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Monetary donations are also accepted through the West Tisbury Library Foundation (wtlibraryfoundation.org). Located in the library lobby and open every day that the library is, the fridge has sparked conversations with summer visitors about inequities on the Island, fed fleets of school kids, and provided meals for those in a pinch.
Not all of the Island’s farm stands sell food, and not all of the Island’s farm animals are for eating (and I am not just talking about Chilmark the ox). Island Alpaca, celebrating 20 years of operation, breed their fuzzy friends for their soft fleece, easy dispositions, and strong confirmations. The alpaca farm will have free entry to meet the herd all winter, leading up to their annual Shearing Day on the last Saturday of April. Island Alpaca guides also offer an “Alpaca Walk and Talk” twice a day, reservable ahead of time, allowing keen visitors a more personable (alpacable?) experience. For those too far away to walk, the soft stuff is available at their online store at islandalpaca.com.