The Ritz Cafe is undergoing renovations this week following a change in ownership.
A popular bar on Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs, the Ritz Cafe sold for $975,000 to Larkin and Jacqueline Stallings.
The new owners hail from Texas but have Vineyard ties. The couple began visiting the Island 27 years ago, before buying a house here ten years ago.
Janet King, who had owned the establishment since 1967 along with four siblings, said she would stay on as manager until the liquor license is transfered.
“You have big shoes to fill,” selectman Gail Barmakian told Mr. Stallings at a meeting of the board of selectmen on Tuesday.
“They are going to miss you,” selectman Michael Santoro told Janet King.
Ms. King told selectmen she planned to spend her free time gardening with her daughter.
“I am sad I had to let it go but I am happy they have it and they are going to make it a lot better,” she said Wednesday by telephone. “I am happy to be free.”
To commemorate the change in ownership, the Ritz had a last call party in early June.
Reached by telephone Thursday morning, Mr. Stallings said he and his wife Jacqueline were extremely happy to take over the Circuit avenue institution.
“We love the Island and we love the Ritz,” he said.
They plan a soft opening for this weekend, with Mike Benjamin playing at the bar Friday night and Johnny Hoy booked for Tuesday.
The entertainment will be the same as previous summers, he said.
“It’s looking like it will be the good old Ritz with a few tweaks for the summer,” he said. In the off-season, Mr. Stallings plans to renovate the kitchen and introduce a pub food menu.
Mr. Stallings said he has operated restaurants and bars throughout his career. He plans to keep “what is good about the Ritz good, and keep that tradition alive, and add to that and it will be even cooler and more fun,” he said.