A thin line of chocolate snaked across his plate, capturing his crepe while a dollop of ice cream sat innocently to the side. Michael Torres, of Modesto, Calif., hadn’t touched his dessert yet but already was giving Waterside Market rave reviews. It was his first visit to the new eatery on Main street in Vineyard Haven, he said, and he was impressed with everything from the service to the atmosphere. “We were walking down the street and we saw it and we smelled it and said this is where we want to eat,” he explained.
Chic, gourmet and family friendly, Waterside Market offers patrons the option of picking up some almond nut butter, honey comb or bloody Mary mix while they wait for their cappuccino and lobster roll. The market opened April 4 and has enjoyed a busy first two months.
Stephen Bowen, a co-owner of the market, said that was part of their goal: “To bring very high quality, natural, organic products into a reasonably priced casual venue.”
The ingredients are fresh and the dishes are made from scratch. Mr. Torres isn’t the only one who’s taken a liking to the place.
“We’re doing better than I expected,” Mr. Bowen said. “People seem to appreciate food that’s made from scratch.”
Aside from being well received by the community, the market has also seen some famous faces. Back in April, the Boston Herald featured a picture of Live with Regis and Kelly co-star Kelly Ripa picking up some food from Waterside.
“Superman comes in all the time,” said Susan Bowen, another co-owner and Mr. Bowen’s wife. “It’s the Superman from Smallville,” she explained, referring to Tom Welling from the CW Network show. “They’re really nice though. Low-key.”
Before there was Waterside Market, there was watersidemarket.com, Mr. Bowen explained. Three years ago, he and his wife were thinking of starting up a restaurant in Florida, where they lived at the time. They kicked around some ideas and tried out a few domain names. In a search for something that would apply to Florida, they came up with the current name. But things didn’t work out down south. “Then we were here and it sort of smacked us,” Mr. Bowen explained. While on vacation here, he and his wife fell in love with the Island. They also realized it was the perfect place for what they wanted to create. “We noticed there was a void of a casual, nice place to eat here.”
Now residents of West Tisbury, the Bowens and their friends, Shawn and Viviane Morrison, set out to fill that void and in doing so attracted a lot of families looking for a relaxed setting to eat out without too much of an assault on their wallets.
“This has been our dream for a long time,” Mr. Bowen said. “It’s nice seeing it happen.”
Mrs. Bowen was responsible for design and for filling the market with specialty goods like jelly beans, seasoned salts and leaf-shaped bottles of maple syrup. “Her mom’s a professional designer so it made it easy,” Mr. Bowen said.
As the restaurant’s executive chef, Shawn Morrison has been responsible for developing the menu.
He put maple ham, smoked turkey and French brie together on French bread and called it the Market. He served breakfast customers scrambled eggs, potato hash, roasted tomatoes and herb cream cheese in what he called the Morning Wrap,
The most popular item is the Club with its smoked applewood bacon, turkey, swiss cheese, tomato, lettuce and mayo.
Mr. Bowen has tried just about everything on the menu. His favorite it the Red, White and Green, a name based on the colors of the sandwich’s plum tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil that are packed between two pieces of ciabatta bread.
Mrs. Morrison is the general manager. She handles business operations, including hiring and training.
“I’m not sure what I do,” Mr. Bowen said.
The charm of Waterside Market is in the little things. For people off to a day on the boat or beach they offer pre-made picnic baskets. “Just let us know how many people you have,” Mr. Bowen said.
And every day at 5 p.m., right at five, they do fresh rotisserie chicken. It gives the place a community feel. People know when dinner’s being cooked, as if Waterside were the neighborhood mother ringing the dinner bell.
The market donates a portion of their earnings once a month to a local charity. Last month they gave to the Susan G. Komen Cancer Fund, for the event MV Goes Pink. “We’re trying to give back,” Mr. Bowen said. He hasn’t decided what charity they will give to this month.
“We do love it here. It’s the perfect place to raise a kid,” he said.
As Mr. Bowen talked about the Island and the market, his four-year-old daughter Dylan walked up and handed him a milky coffee-colored drink. “Taste it,” she said. He did without hesitation and immediately made a face. Aside from coffee and milk, the drink also included a couple sugar packets and a small bit of Mr. Bowen’s orange juice.
“She hates coffee,” he explained as he continued to sip at the concoction. “She just likes mixing it.”