The lupines are in bloom in the meadow at Fort Hill in Eastham. Also blossoming are new businesses. Here’s what we found on this season’s new ventures from Eastham to Provincetown.
PROVINCETOWN — It is true that Jason Roberts turned two car air filters into a lovely lampshade, but his real skill lies not in creating useful objects.
“I am really good at finding people who are good at building stuff,” says Roberts, the owner of a new store called Repurposed at 353 Commercial St.
Everything Roberts sells was manmade, then discarded, then remade by creative folks who see something in trash that others do not. For example, the store has colorful, durable-looking bike courier bags made from fire hoses; billfolds and wallets made from seat belts and rock-climbing rope; purses made from bike chains; and beach bags, totes, and coolers that were once billboards.
After working at Boston radio and television stations, Roberts became membership manager of the Boston Aquarium. He moved to Provincetown because he thought his long-imagined idea of selling recycled products would be a fit.
“We are so conscious of the environment out here,” he says.
The weirdest item on his shelves appears to the naked eye to be the most conventional. He sells greeting cards made 75 percent from elephant dung.
Commercial Street will be looking almost the same this summer, other than a few new retail shops and many familiar businesses in new locations. The Surf Club, closed since a 2017 fire, is expected to reopen this year, says Lezli Rowell, the town’s health agent. Shannon Sawyer, a native, will be opening the Saltwater Serpent Gallery at 152A Commercial St., where her great-grandfather ran a barber shop.
Only one new sit-down restaurant appears to be opening: Freemans. Joachim Sandbichler and Mark Ferrari rented 333 Commercial St. back in 2020 from Nancyann Meads, who ran Café Edwige there for decades. Sandbichler and Ferrari never opened in 2020 and have been waiting for business to return to normal, Sandbichler said. Now they are ready to launch in the third week of June.
If you want to unleash your inner designer, Eric Bomyea has opened PuppyPlayPtown at Whaler’s Wharf, where customers can create a custom leash from among 22 fabric options.. In less than a minute, Bomyea will put the leash together with a rivet press. The inspiration comes from man’s best friend, but the materials can create suspenders, belts, harnesses, and bracelets as well.
EASTHAM — Thanks to Joey Rugo, Route 6 in Eastham just got a lot more colorful — and we are not talking about the mural on the former Nickerson Service Center.
Rugo has opened the Rugosa Gallery next door to his Joey’s Joint Tacos in the plaza at 4100 State Highway, across the street from the Rugosa Guest House. At 33, Rugo owns both the plaza and the guest house, which he purchased in the last two years for $1,010,000 and $1,038,896 respectively, according to assessing records.
Rugo started out selling tacos from trucks in Wellfleet. He still operates food trucks, which he said were dispatched to 60 catering jobs in the past year. At the brick-and-mortar taco stand, he has added backyard seating alongside a lily pond this year.
Rugo has been making waves, evidenced from the mixed reactions to the mural. Some regarded it as more urban blight than renewal. But, he said, he had the permission of the property owner and feels good about the result.
There is still a lot to be done at the plaza. But, he said, “I am thrifty and scrappy, and we have made do with resources when they become available.”
Eastham’s town clerk issued 13 new business licenses this year. They include plumbing, insulation, handyman, and financial services.
There are a few cottage industries, where production will take place in private homes with sales elsewhere. Larry Kays is retiring from house painting and making his hobby of 30 years, restoring vacuum-tube electronics such as amplifiers, into a home business. If anyone wants to sell parts from vintage tube audio devices, he says he is also buying.
Doing business as Artful Rock Creations, Dawna and John Newman are making lamps out of their home from the rocks they have collected during their travels. Dawna used to own Horton’s Campground in North Truro with her ex-husband Robert Horton, and Newman was a builder for decades. Now retired and not traveling too much, the couple “needed something else to do,” Dawna said.
WELLFLEET — Four years ago, in a heroic effort for his wife’s birthday, Ellery Althaus made bagels. “I’m not a baker or anything like that,” he says. “We just discovered they were really good.”
Althaus and Claire Adams, his wife and partner in North Truro’s Salty Market, decided to sell the bagels at their store on a few Sundays. It was such a success that they started making bagels three days a week, then every other day, then daily.
“It grew and grew and grew,” says Althaus. “It’s really hard to find a good bagel out here.”
Now, having sold the market, he and Adams have opened Bagel Hound at 955 Route 6, formerly JB’s Pizza Bar and Grill. The pick-up window opened April 30 and they are selling about 600 bagels a day, says Althaus. There are 10 flavors, including onion, pumpernickel, cheddar, poppy, sesame, and cranberry white chocolate. He anticipates doubling production this summer, with a storefront also selling Snowy Owl coffee from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The secret to a good bagel?
“You have to boil it,” Althaus says. “We stumbled upon a good recipe that we tweaked and turned into our own over the years. It just keeps working for reasons that are basically unknown to me.” He plans to stay open for about nine months a year, “and if it’s working in winter, we’ll keep it going.”
A few other changes are coming to Wellfleet this summer.
When the pandemic struck, Tonya Felix, a self-taught chef with 30 years’ experience, began to think about opening her own business. The result was 349 Café, a food truck serving “hearty American cuisine with a Southern flair.”
After a successful year, Felix secured a site at Wellfleet’s Chequessett Club after catering an event there last summer. Now she is running a full-service bar and restaurant with a menu featuring a Cajun pork butt sandwich, shrimp and sausage gumbo, and eggplant fries.
“I don’t do typical Cape-style food, but more something you would find in a cafe in Louisiana or Alabama,” she says.
The cafe, with indoor and outdoor seating, is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Fox and Crow Cafe will move from Commercial Street to the former Well Tavern and Kitchen at 70 Main St., part of the Duck Creek Inn property.
“There are many reasons, but the time is right and circumstances forced the move,” owner Trudy Vermehren said in an email. The restaurant closed suddenly in April because of plumbing problems.
The new location is significantly larger, has a real bar, housing for staff, “and there’s a blank palette for creating a beautiful outdoor space,” Vermehren said. The hours will depend on staffing but likely will be 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for coffee and breakfast and 5:30 p.m. on for the evening menu and bar.
“I always wanted a place that was year-round and everyone told me I was crazy,” said Vermehren. “It is hard to make money during the winter, but having a local place to go in town has been special, and people have come out to support us.”
Jack’s Boat Rental, at 2616 Route 6, has new owners, husband and wife Mike Schiller and Michelle Fanzo, longtime clients of the business. Recent additions include an online reservation system, a new logo, signs, and new paint on the building. “Otherwise, Jack’s has had a very good line of boats, has kept them in really good condition, and has always had really good customer service,” says Schiller. “We’re going to keep doing that.”
TRURO — Of the businesses that receive licenses from the select board, only Jams Market and the Salty Market Farmstand changed hands this year.
The Salty Market Farmstand holds onto some relics of its predecessors — its name, being one. “It takes a long time to evolve the consciousness of the community when it comes to understanding the name of a place,” said Liam Luttrell Rowland, who has taken over the business from its previous owners, Ellery Althaus and Claire Adams.
While Althaus and Adams have jumped one town over, setting up Bagel Hound in Wellfleet, Rowland has been settling into his new role as a business owner. It’s a new hat for him, after more than a decade spent working as an executive chef at Spindler’s in Provincetown, and before that, at several restaurants in Asheville, N.C.
“Being an owner teaches you a different set of skills,” he said. “Not only do you have to manage the money aspect, it’s also about building a team and building an environment. I really want the Salty Market Farmstand to be both a community market and a food operation.”
With the Farmstand, Rowland plans on bringing a few new features to the original Salty Market concept. The shelves will be stocked with products from local farms, and customers will be able to get their fix of organic produce from the Cape Cod Organic Farm. Rowland and his staff will also expand the store’s deli options. And the interior has gone through some transformations. Compared to its predecessor, the Farmstand’s layout is roomier. “Before, it was a little too cluttered,” Rowland said. “I prefer a more open floor plan.”
But Rowland also honors the legacy of the previous owners of the place. By the cheeses, the old sign for Dutra’s Market hangs high as a homage to the general store that predated the nine-year run by Althaus and Adams. For some older folks, like Rowland’s parents, any establishment at 2 Highland Road will always be “Dutra’s.”
And Ellery’s bagels will still be sold at the Farmstand, should Bagel Hound be too far a hike up Route 6. The Farmstand is currently open Wednesday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Scott Cloud, the new owner of Jams, said the downtown grocery and sundries store will be the same as it has been except “for a guy with a Southern accent trying to run it.”
The rotisserie chickens, the sandwiches, the same suppliers, and most of the same staff will return, though perhaps customers will notice a Southern flair. Cloud, who is from Charleston, S.C., “married a local girl” — Susan Edwards, the daughter of Donald and Barbara Edwards, who have just retired after selling an entire block of Provincetown that includes the Governor Bradford restaurant, which they had owned since the 1970s.
Susan and Scott have been coming to visit the Outer Cape for years with their sons, now 9 and 10. When they saw that Dawn and Sebastian Snow were selling Jams, they decided “to buy a house in Eastham and to buy Jams,” said Cloud. The main objective was to find a way to spend the summers here, Cloud said.
Cloud owned the Barbeque Joint in North Charleston, S.C. for 11 years, until 2019. More recently he has operated a farm with fruit trees, blueberry bushes, goats, chickens, and rabbits, he said.
Cloud and Edwards bought the Jams property at 14 Truro Center Road in April for $1,399,999.
“It’s been around 25 years, and we are the third owners,” Cloud said. “Dawn and Sebastian Snow have been wonderful, showing me systems, introducing me to purveyors. You couldn’t ask for better.”
Jams is currently open every day except Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with plans to be open seven days a week early in June.