For regulars at the Dock Street Coffee Shop, it’s a sight they will have some trouble adjusting to. On a recent Thursday morning Don Patrick sat on the other side of the counter. After almost 30 years manning the griddle, the long time cook and fixture at the Edgartown diner has hung up his apron.
“I’m done. I’m all done. He’s the man now,” Mr. Patrick said, gesturing to his son, Darren, who scraped a heaping mound of eggs, bacon, ham, linguica, toast and homefries off the griddle and handed it to his father.
“Breakfast is the best meal of the day,” Mr. Patrick said as he dug into the #1. “I’d eat it four times a day if I could.”
Since 1975, Dock Street has been serving up inexpensive diner fare in a once thriving year-round neighborhood but is now almost a lone holdout on the waterfront in the winter.
“It was like a small fishing village when I started, now it’s like a tourist trap,” Mr. Patrick said. “Some of the people who own businesses around here want all your money. I’d rather have a buck and a half for a cup of coffee and see you everyday.”
Dock Street stays open 365 days a year, from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., come hell and even high water. When Hurricane Bob devastated downtown Edgartown and the diner’s doorstep became waterfront property, Mr. Patrick kept a pot of coffee going for anyone in need.
That sort of steadfastness has earned the restaurant a legion of loyal regulars, from both the year-round and summer communities.
“There are kids that come in here in the summer as two or three year olds that are now bringing their kids in,” said waitress, Laurie Lucier, who got her start at the restaurant when she was 16. “It’s one of the few places where if you don’t have money you can put your ticket up and come back to pay later. That’s kind of nice.”
At the height of the summer the restaurant is a sweltering beehive of hungry patrons. Mr. Patrick says that his one day record for eggs is 50 dozen. That pace slows considerably in the winter, but the diner still sees steady business.
“In the winter we have our regulars,” he said. “Of course in the winter people seem to have less money to spend on food. I know there’s people who’d like to eat here everyday but can’t.”
When asked whether he has served any famous clientele, Mr. Patrick shrugs.
“Yeah, but when I’m working my back’s to them, I wouldn’t be able to tell anyways,” he said.
In fact, Dock Street has counted as its regulars Richard Dreyfuss and the late Walter Cronkite.
Mr. Patrick says in his retirement he plans to do “as little as possible.”
“I didn’t get out of bed until 10 o’clock this morning,” he says.
“But how long did it take you to get out of bed that late, two months?” his son asked.
“It’s hard,” Mr. Patrick admitted.
Mr. Patrick is confident handing the reigns over to his son, who has been cooking alongside him for more than two decades.
“I’m more confident than he is,” Mr. Patrick noted.
As the morning crowd dwindled on a recent Thursday, Ms. Lucier reflected on Mr. Patrick’s uncanny skills developed over a thirty-year career.
“A lot of the times Don knew what people were going to order before they ordered it,” she said.
Mr. Patrick’s son nods.
“By the time the waitress puts the slip up the food will be out,” he said. “He knows people not by name but by what they eat. It’s something I’m picking up.”