PROVINCETOWN — Beverley Ferreira is known as “Grandma” by her coworkers at the Lobster Pot, where she has been working as a hostess since 2013. Ferreira, who turned 81 last week, has no intention of leaving anytime soon. “As long as I’m healthy enough, I’ll be there,” she says.
That’s a good thing, says Rita Speicher, who has been manager of this Commercial Street institution for 29 years. “She’s a presence that cannot be duplicated.”
Born Beverley Cook in Provincetown in 1941, she has never lived anywhere else.
She did contemplate leaving once, though, during her senior year at Provincetown High School, when she was offered a job at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. But then her boyfriend, Gordon Ferreira, gave her a diamond ring and asked her to stay. “I didn’t think twice about it,” says Beverley.
Less than a year later, in 1960, the pair were married and moved into a little apartment on Mechanic Street. While Gordon went to work with his father (Jesse “Burr” Ferreira was the proprietor of Burr’s Barber Shop), Beverley started out at her sister Eva’s restaurant, Tip for Tops’n.
In 1973, Beverley and Gordon bought Stormy Harbor, a “mostly American” restaurant at 277 Commercial St. — just across Lopes Square and about a block west of where she now works. Although they kept the restaurant’s name, they changed the menu to feature a selection of Portuguese recipes handed down from Beverley’s and Gordon’s families. What everybody loved best, she says, was their squid stew.
Life at Stormy Harbor was busy. “Gordon ran the back, and I ran the front,” Ferreira says. “And in between, when the sandwich girl didn’t show up, I was making sandwiches. When the bartender didn’t show up, I was making drinks. When you own the place, you gotta do everything.”
The couple held various fundraisers at the restaurant, especially to raise money for scholarships for the kids, she says. When the Knights of Columbus held their events, she remembers, the “men would wait on the tables.”
According to Tracey Rose, Ferreira’s second child, her mother’s community-minded ways extended to her home life. Ferreira encouraged her kids to invite their friends over for pajama parties and Friday-night sleepovers when she was growing up, Rose says.
Ferreira also went to community events hosted by others: “My mom and dad would go down to the Holiday Inn,” says Rose. “They’d go out dancing and then have breakfast at my mother’s house.
“Mom goes in with two feet,” Rose says of her mother’s commitment to the Provincetown community. “She’s a force to be reckoned with.”
The community event Ferreira is most fiercely devoted to is the annual Portuguese Festival and Blessing of the Fleet, which is taking place this weekend. She and Gordon opened Stormy Harbor on the weekend of the blessing 49 years ago. She has been a festival volunteer for the past 20 years.
The Portuguese Festival as it is known today began only 26 years ago, Ferreira says. The yearly event used to include only the Blessing of the Fleet, she recalls, during which fishing crews would invite their families and friends onto their boats for a massive feast after each boat had been blessed.
The festival, which this year includes an opening night at the Provincetown Inn, a soup tasting, and a fado performance, among many other events (see the complete schedule on page C3 of this week’s Independent), is important because it is a reminder of Provincetown’s Portuguese roots, Ferreira says. She helps coordinate the festival “so that everyone knows we’re still here.”
As the fishing fleet has grown smaller in Provincetown, Ferreira says, a lot of the younger Portuguese fishermen have moved to New Bedford and Fall River, where they can make better wages. Without a bigger fleet, she says, “we don’t have the Portuguese young people that we need to keep our heritage going.”
Nevertheless, the festival is an important display of Provincetown’s rich history, Ferreira says. She enjoys the generosity of the endeavor, too. “It’s all volunteers,” she says. “Nobody gets paid.”
When she’s not working on the festival logistics, Ferreira is at the Lobster Pot most Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Everyone is happy to see her face when she walks through the door,” Speicher says. “She takes no guff from anybody either.”
“There are very few Beverleys left,” says Tim McNulty, one of the owners and head chef at the Lobster Pot. He has known Ferreira since childhood. “There are very few people left in town who know what it was like when we were kids,” he says.
“She is a historian because she carries those memories,” says Mike Potenza, the Lobster Pot’s director of marketing, who went to school with one of Ferreira’s daughters.
Speicher says that, although Ferreira has seen the community go through so many changes, “She isn’t one of those who complain about change all the time, how the old days were better than the new days.”
Instead, Ferreira “is the kind of person who embraces change,” Speicher says. “With her faith and her positive outlook on things, she’s open to it all.”