Once part of the Island Country Club, for twenty five years Lola’s Southern Seafood has held its place as an iconic Oak Bluffs restaurant, music venue and bar.

What may be less well known is that Lola’s, owned by Kathy Domitrovich, a woman of Greek extraction, and her husband Paul, whose family was from Croatia, has held a special place in the hearts and minds of the Vineyard’s black community.

For African American Islanders, summer and year-round alike, Lola’s has been a singular destination for entertainment and socializing as well as meals.

“See you at Lola’s,” an early promotional line, became a catch phrase among African Americans as returning annual visitors found themselves greeting old friends and families at a comfortable home away from home.

The restaurant has been a stage for the large parties hosted by African American-oriented media organizations such as BET, Uptown Magazine and the Sirius XM Joe Madison Radio Show that broadcast live for a week from Lola’s in the past two years. An annual Sony reception featured well-known names from politics and the movies.

The popular venue was also the center of events for local and national black organizations. The Cottagers hosted its annual Fashion Show there. The Links, Jack and Jill, the Alphas, The Partnership, and the Girlfriends all used the sizable space for luncheons and dinners. The African American Film Festival, Simon & Schuster’s 37 Ink Publishing imprint’s Writer’s Brunch, the Advancement Project and others all held receptions and events at Lola’s. And it was not unusual to see African American celebrities from the worlds of publishing, entertainment and sports show up there as its reputation spread as an inclusive place of refuge and fun for all.

Some years ago Lola’s began a tradition of opening for brunch on Mother’s Day. Soon Lola’s Sunday brunch became a sold-out event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., attracting patrons from the Sunday morning services at the historic Union Chapel. Gospel and jazz brunches were hosted by dignitaries such as Barbara Lee, the former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and educational institutions from traditional black colleges such as Morehouse.

Birthday parties at Lola’s were signature events and Mardi Gras celebrations were legendary affairs, with Paul Domitrovich famously calling out “laissez les bons temps rouler.”

The Domitroviches knew that running a successful restaurant went beyond the meals, and they also knew how hard it is to make a profit in the business, especially on Martha’s Vineyard. Twice they returned to rescue Lola’s after sales had fallen through, much to the delight of their loyal customers. Sadly Paul Domitrovich died last year, but Kathy has kept the good times rolling since then.

All that comes to an end this week as Lola’s comes under new ownership. Kathy will bid adieu to her loyal patrons tonight at a farewell party at the restaurant before she returns to Miami. New Bedford businessman Horacio Tavares and Oak Bluffs restaurateur Doug Abdelnour Jr. will be the new proprietors. Their plans are still in development.

And while everyone understands they won’t “See you at Lola’s” any longer, there’s hope that whatever replaces it will be as warm and welcoming.