Massachusetts seasonal restaurant question - Brant Rock, Marshfield
Maybe some of you in the restaurant business can explain this to me: how do these local South Shore/ North Shore restaurants make money and survive? Case in point, Brant Rock, Marshfield.
Brant Rock is a little seaside section of Marshfield MA that has a very very limited tourist season. It certainly doesn't get Cape Cod tourists. Locals have their own watering holes and aren't real big spenders. The year round clientele is lobstermen and fixed income seniors. There's hardly a beach house rental market anymore as most house have been converted into single family year round homes. When we were kids, it was mayhem with all of the beach house rentals.
Within 1/4 mile in Marshfield:
Haddad's (with a $1.5 mil expansion underway, absolute behemoth building).
Fairview Inn - the day a lobsterman spends $12 a drink...
The Hop- (breakfast and lunch only)
Arthur & Pats (breakfast and lunch only)
Mamma Mia's -brand new renovation.
How does these places survive? Alcohol sales?
I think the new Haddad's will be a great addition to the strip. The views from the upper decks, looking out over the marsh toward Green Harbor, will be great. Perhaps it’s behemoth looking now but once the windows are in and the siding goes up it will appear smaller. IMO it doesn't look out of place. They have a great business now and with added function space they should remain viable year round. And, as you said, the small cottages are now full of young year round family's, just their type of clientele.
Brant Rock may be "a little seaside section” but if you look at the big picture Marshfield has 20,000 residents. Most of which are not local lobsterman or fixed income seniors but younger families, commuters, and a good helping of rather well heeled people (Marshfield Hills?) with a town wide avg. income of over $100K. Duxbury, which has almost no restaurants, is within a few miles as well as parts of Pembroke, Norwell, Kingston and Scituate all of which have residents that are still willing to “take a ride” to restaurants due to a lack of quantity.
The Venus II has been family owned for years so they probably have no mortgage and just the overhead of their fairly recent build out. A great example of good value family dining that fills a void in Marshfield (soon their will be a Cask ‘n Flaggon too). There really are not that many places in MarshVegas to take families. They do a nice job of promoting sports watching in the winter months and they have an active night scene believe it or not.
Arthur & Pat's, which is run by the brother and sister team of Dee and Artie, took over from their parent's many years ago and I'm guessing they also have no mortgage. They own the adjacent building with apartment rentals above and an ice cream shop at street level. This probably affords them the luxury of closing up shop in the winter and allows them to hang out in FLA. I'm a fan of A&P's and if you got to know Dee you would see that it's a bit of an act, which I've come to enjoy. BYOB BTW.
The Bailey is a newcomer. The owner bought the Lobster Tail at bankruptcy so he got a great deal. He put up lots of his own money for a tough renovation, doing much of work himself. The Irish entertainment and booze is certainly a draw and it attracts the older crowd as opposed to Venus II or Haddad's usual summertime night crowd. Probably the most likely to fold
The Fairview has a sweet lease they signed after fire destroyed the building in '98. Hotel rooms are part of the property, which probably helps the overall summertime numbers giving them a cushion into the slow winter. They do seem fairly busy year round. I don't care for the food but it's plentiful at reasonable prices. Lobstermen don't pay $12 for drinks, but a Bud Light at $3.25 and a Chardonnay at $5.50 is doable.
The Hop is of course the answer to A&P's $14 omelet. At $7-$8 it's decent. They certainly will benefit from the fact that it's often hard to get in A&P's so overflow will retreat one block. Also, those that don't like Dee may cheer on this alternative.
Mama Mia's also bought a defunct restaurant (The Garlic) and did a complete renovation. Opening only weeks ago we will see how they survive. My understanding is, as with The Bailey, it was a steal-of-a-deal. They actually moved from rt.139 over to Green Harbor (not Brant Rock) so they have some built in customer base. They also have 6 other locations and they are the only Italian restaurant in the area so I can see them doing well enough.
The Ocean Deck (also Green Harbor) survives off the Marina, but barely. Plagued with flooding, bad food, concept turnover it never seems to get any traction. They've got a view though so any place with a view is getting some summer business. They are seasonal and highly subsidized by the Marina owner.
I think the bottom line is Marshfield is a rather large and growing town on the South Shore whose demographic is much different than it was 20 years ago. If I look at each restaurant on it's own I can find reasons why they can stay open. Is it getting saturated in Brant Rock? Maybe, but only time will tell if there are or are not enough year round-ers to support the number of choices
At Arthur & Pats, the typical omelette will cost you between $12-$15 and you will be assured to have a surly waitress, not worth it.
Baileys Pub is a recent addition and they do have fairly good live music on weekends if you can stand when the band turns their amps up to 11! The food is quite bad though.
Haddad's is good if you like fried seafood and I always thought the dated decor and falling down building was the great allure. We will see what the renovations do for business.
Venus survives on alcohol sales, strong and cheap drinks. It offers a large outdoor deck for smokers which is hard to find these days
My top choice is and always has been The Fairview Inn when down in the Brant Rock area, always great service and the food has been consistent for years. Very cozy in the fall and winter and a nice neighborhood to stroll around in before or after dinner. Check out the waterfront trailer park at the end of the street, it was the first time in my life I thought I could live in a mobile park.
Don't miss stopping into the fish market in Brant Rock to see the resident blue lobster!