Mad Martha’s Ice Cream and Skinny’s Fat Sandwiches will be opening this summer at the former Cafe Moxie location on Main street in Vineyard Haven.
Mad Martha’s owners Paul and Patricia Roberts purchased the Cafe Moxie building with Island businessman and real estate developer William Coggins, Mr. Coggins told the Gazette by phone Tuesday.
According to real estate records, the sale price was $1.2 million. The restaurant was sold furnished and has four levels, including a kitchen, a 49-seat restaurant, a one-bedroom apartment and a studio apartment with a rooftop deck.
The neighborhood bistro at the corner of Main and Centre streets burned in the July 2008 fire that also blackened the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore next door. Former Moxie owner Michael Ryan rebuilt the restaurant from the ground up. Cafe Moxie reopened in October 2012 and then closed in January of this year.
In the early 1800s, the Cafe Moxie site was the home of whaling captain Elisha Dexter, and it had to be rebuilt after a devastating 1883 fire. Through the years, the location has housed a harness shop, a, cobbler shop, and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. It has also been the site of several ice cream stores. Before Island chef Tina Miller named it Cafe Moxie in 1998, it was the Dry Town Cafe and the Linden Tree Cafe.
Now it will house another well-known Vineyard institution: Mad Martha’s, the ice cream purveyor that first opened more than 40 years ago. Mad Martha’s has stores in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, but recently lost their spot on Union street in Vineyard Haven, Mr. Coggins said. The Cafe Moxie site became available in a bit of “perfect timing,” he said.
Mr. Coggins owns Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Oak Bluffs.
Mad Martha’s will serve ice cream, and Skinny’s Fat Sandwiches owner Alex King will be operating the restaurant part of the operation, Mr. Coggins said. While sandwiches will be the main focus at first, Mr. King may take advantage of the full kitchen and expand the menu later, Mr. Coggins said. Right now, he said they plan to keep the store open year-round.
The two apartments will be rented on a year-round basis.
Mr. Coggins said the sale closed last Wednesday and repairs to the front of the store are going on right now. The expected opening date is the Friday before Memorial Day.
Mad Martha’s opened in 1971, and President Bill Clinton was photographed eating a Mad Martha’s cone in 1993. The Roberts purchased the business in 1998.
For many years, ice cream gallons were delivered to the stores by a customized ambulance sedan complete with sirens. At one time, there were five Mad Martha’s on the Island, including outlets at Island Cove Mini-Golf and the Aquinnah Shop at the Gay Head Cliffs.