When Islander Robert (Bob) Murphy and Jim Ryan (Ryan Family Amusements) bought the building that became Season’s Eatery & Pub almost 27-years ago, they had no idea that they would be in the restaurant business. They thought they were venturing in on a simple real estate deal together.
What was once the Vineyard’s nicest restaurant, The Boston House (Frank Sinatra ate there!!), had become a run-down building and a taffy shop — both of which they they bought in foreclosure.
An Unlikely Path
To begin making money on the investment, Bob & Jim opened the space again as a restaurant, Checkers. Shortly thereafter, they closed the spaces for renovations and thus came about the Atlantic Connection and Season’s Restaurant (since it was going to be open all four seasons). The AC was a hit as Oak Bluff’s only nightclub, and the restaurant quickly became a favorite of locals and visitors for its casual and relaxed atmosphere.
So funny to think that neither partner wanted to be in the restaurant business, yet here we are almost three decades later, and they’re just saying goodbye now. Luckily, they have had the same general manager for almost the whole time, Mike Santoro (yes, the selectman) which made things a lot easier for them as owners.
A Change in the Seasons
With the restaurant still profitable, why close now? Well, after so many years and having other businesses to focus on, and not ever wanting to be restauranteurs in the first place, they started downsizing years ago, when they closed the AC. Remember how shocked we all were? That was a sad moment for a lot of people. I had some fun Halloweens there!
Also, think of some of the national acts that played there, like Carly Simon and Taj Mahal. Ask Bobby about his favorites, and a smile slowly lights up his whole face. He loved seeing Bo Diddley and Dave Brubeck play on that stage, but most of all, his favorites where the people who came to both the AC and Seasons’s. Bobby is a people person. He loves people, and that’s what has kept him in the business this long.
After the AC closed, both Bobby and Jim were working toward either leasing or selling Season’s. People were interested, but there were no takers, until last year. They thought that they had a buyer, but sadly in the end, nothing came to fruition. So, they both agreed the time had come for them to move on. They stayed open for the holidays, and took January to start winding things down. With that said, Season’s is closing February 3rd after Superbowl XLVII (go Ravens).
If you went to Season’s any of those last three days, you’ll know it was packed. People from all walks of life. After almost 30-years, almost every Islander has been there at least once. Even if you hadn’t been in a while, it’s still hard to say goodbye to a place that has lit up Circuit Ave late into the night for so long. People like closure. I know I stopped by on Saturday night for a goodbye drink.
With this staple of Oak Bluffs closing its doors, what’s going to happen there? For one thing, Ryan’s Family Amusements is staying open. So, you can still get your skeet ball fix. I can also tell you that there will not be a Stop & Shop going in the space like some have said. It could be retail, but ideally it would remain a restaurant.
The doors may be closed, but someone could go in on Monday and reopen it as a new place. Since the space is for lease, or for sale, and is stocked with all the things necessary to have a restaurant, it really could become something else over night if someone wants it. You could even keep the Season’s name. Any takers? Spring is right around the corner, this could be a fun new endeavor for someone.
I am sad for the people who work there and for the regulars. I know that I have my favorite spots on the Island, and I am always sad when they close, even if it’s just for the season. But, I feel like so many people have considered Seasons and it patrons and employees as family. Also, I must admit that I will miss karaoke there. There has been a night or two when I’ve rocked the stage or so I thought (never should such things happen since I can’t sing).
Ending this chapter of his life for Bob is bittersweet. He will miss the people that were part of the Seasons’ family, the staff and the customers. He’s watched people grow up and grow old, get married, have a child, then another, and he’s seen some of his favorite customers pass. He’s been a part of so many people’s lives.
However, he is also relieved, a little lighter. His real estate company keeps him busy, and let’s not forget that he is one of three owners of my fav, the Lookout Tavern. So, for this man who doesn’t love the restaurant life — he’s still in it. And now, he’s really looking forward to April when the Lookout opens its doors again.