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A Nantucket Institution, The Club Car has undergone a transformation that has created a stir in more than the kitchen.  Generally speaking, people don’t like change.  Me, I am so habitually acclimated to disruption that while I might not always embrace it, but I accept it.  I was sad to learn that not everyone has warmed this latest iteration of The Car.

It’s storied history began in 1881 when Nantucket developed its first rail service in support of its burgeoning tourist industry.  Modest in size, just two open air passenger cars, named Dionis after the wife of island’s settler, Tristram Coffin.  The train first went out to Surfside and later Sconset.  The service ran for 36 years until it was supplanted by the automobile.

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Main Dining Room

The rail car, first stood alone at its new location on One Main Street, and served as a diner.  Later the restaurant expanded, connecting to larger building, becoming the restaurant and piano bar that serves as the current day memory most hold dear.  Keys banging, drinks splashing, the sound of Piano Man carried out the door and down the street on the hot breeze of a summer night.  Add in a hangover, and you’ve got powerful memories of place.

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Additional bar seating adjacent main dining.

Under new ownership, its the design that drew me in and had me crushing hard.  Tharon Anderson, of Tharon Anderson Design, a native Nantucketer, is responsible in part, for the transformation.  The co-mingling of her coastal roots, with the historic tones of the original cars interior are a far cry from the blood red enclave that preceded it.  I love the high gloss paint that glints and sparkles like stars in the night sky on the car’s dome.  The brass scones that line the interior in the form of a hand grasping a torch, the brass pipe fittings that hold the shelves of old fashioned glasses, and the industrial light fixtures that are a major feature of the main dining room’s design.  Garden elements pop up in art work, and hanging planters.  Pale blue leather seating – some of the most comfortable I have seen a restaurant dare to install, least their patrons refuse to leave, create an airiness to the overall space that is powerfully hypnotic.

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The piano remains a fixture of the restaurant and patrons can lend their voice to performances twice daily – certain songs will cost you dearly, so select carefully.  The food however diverges from the well worn track its predecessor laid.  The Chef chose a largely gluten free menu, and a serious farm and fish to table commitment that drives the dishes.

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Luscious leather seating invites patrons to relax.

Like a train chugging down the tracks, mindful consumption has a momentum that is changing the way we eat.  I like Beef Wellington and Baked Alaska as much as the next guy or gal, but I really like the vitality and energy I get from eating clean.  The new Club Car is a breath of fresh air.  Given the chance, I bet your fall in love all over again.

 

The Original Tiny: lives large.

Nantucket has such depth – I fear that many that visit today have little idea of the magic of its beginnings – and of its staying power.  Known by the settlers as “Nantocket” meaning “At the Land far out at Sea”, Nantucket was thought of as little more than a sandbar.  Founded in 1676, Sconset – short for Siasconset is the last original settlement on the island.  The Indians came before the “New Englanders”, and lived in Wigwams – Archeologists unearthed evidence that these tiny homesteads existed.

The wigwam

A Tiny Dome . The Wigwam

Once on island, the New Englanders discovered the profitability of the Whaling trade.  Early construction of Whaling Stations, a barracks for 6 men housed the crew when ashore (a tiny house).  Year round residents lived in abodes fashioned by the influence of Georgian Style homes, which became the quintessential cottages of Sconset, and housed many a retired Whaling Captain.  Coveted for their simple shingle exteriors, the gardens, accented by wild roses, and ocean views.  The artist community thrives there today, which is no surprise as the seaside location, the abundance of natural light, and the gardens that are adjacent to most of the cottages offer an ideal setting for a Painter.

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Tiny – the island certainly contains much more than tiny today.  Mansions dot every beachfront patch of sand….but tiny attracts a certain type.  Those that don’t demand distraction, those that can sit in a moment, capture a sunset for future reflection, read a book in a nook, lay their head down on a pillow in a hanging bed, and feel grateful for the roof over their head.  There’s community in tiny living.  There’s connectedness – to nature, to one’s space.  It’s special and comforting, and I am fascinated by it.

I love the apartment I live in now.  I am wowed by the number of pathways I find to circulate from bedroom to kitchen, kitchen to bath, bath to living room, living room to bedroom and I can’t forget the deck.  At just 800 square feet this space feels enormous to me.  An acquaintance visited and said – “so it’s a studio”.  I chocked on my words, and thought oh…you aren’t my kind of person.  The vastness of this space is too much for me, and YOU find it limiting.  Me I can find and define myself by a small space, and make no mistake…..I am going to built one.

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A version in the works.

The world is a very small place – build tiny and be nice.

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Design Mom’s Hanging Bed….