The Pit Stop, the music and performing arts space in Oak Bluffs with a gritty, coffee-house atmosphere that has attracted a large following in the past year, will go up for sale, the owner announced this week.
“We had a lot of fun. A lot of people were brought together. Many personal, musical, artistic and professional relationships were kindled. Some found people to share their art with and some found soul mates to share their lives with,” wrote owner Don Muckerheide in an email newsletter that went out on Tuesday to fans of the Pit Stop Workshop.
Mr. Muckerheide, who bought the Dukes County avenue building in 1978 for use as a car repair and autobody shop, said a plan by a small group of artists to form a membership club for performing arts as an alternative to the local bar scene, has been creatively rich but financially unsuccessful.
“The group never generated enough money to turn it into a coffeehouse . . . so I don’t have much choice but to put it on the market,” Mr. Mukckerhiede told the Gazette. He said he plans to list the property with a broker at an estimated asking price of $800,000.
He said someone could buy the building to keep it as the Pit Stop; in the alternative, he has a previously-approved plan to convert property into 12 two-bedroom condominiums.
“This does not mean that the Pit Stop is Gone. There are some who wish to try and pick up where I leave off,” Mr. Muckerheide said in the newsletter.
“I’m not a musician, I’m not an arts promoter, I’m not a barista — none of those things are my world, although I love my daughters,” he told the Gazette, referring to Nina Violet, the accomplished and popular Island musician who is his daughter and has been a regular at the Pit Stop, and May V. Oskan, creator of the Ape Woman Rock Opera.
The Pit Stop opened officially 11 months ago with an entertainment license from the town of Oak Bluffs amid an enthusiastic following. “Don Muckerheide’s Pit Stop is rapidly becoming the center of a Vineyard music revival,” wrote Gazette contributor Sam Low soon after it opened. “The music? It was a medley of songs, both originals by Jellybone and covers of old favorites. The atmosphere? It could have been a club in downtown San Francisco, Austin or New York or it could have been the Mooncusser or the Unicorn or Wintertide Coffee House — early Island music venues from the sixties and seventies. But it wasn’t — it was here and it was now and it was awesome. Toward the end of the evening the chairs were cleared away for dancing and the band began to jam with each musician taking the lead, improvising, riffing, then tossing it to another and on and on — and we all hoped it never would end.”
Mr. Muckerheide said the plan to sell memberships to support the place as a music club and coffeehouse never panned out.
“Bottom line is we only had about 40 members,” he said. “I said it was kind of a social experiment If the public supports it, it can work.
“It’s been fun. But it’s not my world.”