Giordano’s restaurant has been an Oak Bluffs landmark since 1930. This is reflected on the multitude of beautiful old photographs that hang in the restaurant dining room, many of which are shown here.
**These photographs are provided courtest of The Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society. Picture Captions (top to bottom) Oak Bluffs Boardwalk 1900; Vineyard Skating Rink 1900; Oak Bluffs Beach 1900; Railroad and Steamship 1900.**
Martha’s Vineyard has been a popular summer destination since the mid 1800s when Methodist church groups started annual summer camp meetings in Wesleyan Grove. By the late 1800s, the religious draw was being overtaken by the summer vacationing draw and the communal and family tents were being replaced by brightly colored gingerbread cottages. Wesleyan Grove turned into “Cottage City”, and “Cottage City” into Oak Bluffs. Steam ships brought vacationers from New York, Providence, Boston and Portland, and a steam railroad was available to deliver them to their island destinations (all the way to Katama). Oak Bluffs very quickly exploded into a resort town with an abundance of beautiful hotels and inns, restaurants, a boardwalk, and even a huge roller skating rink.
Edwardo and his wife Maria Giordano had the foresight to open an Italian restaurant on the Vineyard in 1930. Its first location was in the old Pawnee House (where the Park Corner Bistro is today) in Oak Bluffs, across from the Post Office. It was a small restaurant with room for about 35 people. At the time, pizzas were cooked in old style wood ovens with sand insulation, which had to be started early in the morning with kindling and then coal in order to get them to proper pizza temperature. A small pizza cost 15 cents and a large cost 25.
Wilfred Giordano Sr., Edwardo and Mary’s son, started as a waiter in the restaurant, making his tips a few pennies at a time. Later, after taking over the family business, Wilfred moved the Restaurant to it’s present location in the beautiful old building of the Magnolia Restaurant, which he bought from Walter Perkins in 1943. At the time there was no Pizza Room. The Restaurant and Clam Bar (which was once a Laundromat), were separated by a small empty lot. In 1970, the Clam Bar and kitchen were torn down, and the Pizza Room, new Clam Bar, and new kitchen were built by local Vineyard architect, Wilfred Lawrence.
Wilfred Jr. “Buster” and Richard “Richie”, Wilfred Sr. and Antoinette’s children, grew up working in the restaurant and in 1980, when Wilfred retired, they took over and continued the family business in the tradition that Wilfred had taught.
* In 1984, they hired Frank, Peter, and Heidi Dunkle, a local Vineyard family, to renovate the building to its present Victorian motif. The extensive face lift included an abundance of beautiful stained glass work along the windows, Victorian style raised paneling interiors, removal of dropped ceiling and refurbishing of original ceiling woodwork, and repainting with original Victorian colors.
Currently, the fourth generation of Giordano’s are continuing the family tradition.
Buster and his wife Valerie have three sons.
* Wilfred III “Billy”, studied Culinary at New Hampshire College and is the Kitchen Manager
* Carl, studied Graphic Design at Syracuse University and is a Pizza Room Manager
* Jason, studied Food and Hospitality Management at The University of New Hampshire and he is the Clam Bar Manager
Richie and his wife Nancy have two children.
* Leanne, studied Business Administration with a concentration in Management at Merrimack College and she is the Dining Room Manager
* Michael, studied Business Administration and International Business at Saint Michael’s College and he is a Pizza Room Manager