Black Eyed Susan’s was sold Wednesday to longtime island restaurateurs Orla and Michael LaScola, the owners of The Proprietor's, who plan to reopen the restaurant for the 2023 season.
The LaScolas have partnered with Michael and Kerri Crowe, summer residents from Winchester, MA, to acquire Black Eyed Susan's, and the deal includes all of the assets of the restaurant as well as the real estate at 10 India Street. The purchase price was not disclosed.
“We are all beyond excited for this new venture,” the LaScolas and Crowes said in a statement. “We look forward to Black Eyed’s having a new lease on life and offering something new and exciting to the concept, while retaining her exceptional Nantucket quality.”
One of the most beloved downtown dining establishments, Black Eyed Susan’s had been owned and operated by Susan Handy and Jeff Worster for nearly 30 years. But the restaurant had been shuttered since October 2021 and its status had been in limbo ever since as Handy and Worster had not shared an update on their plans to reopen or sell the business.
But today’s sale brings an end to that period of certainty, and begins a new chapter for a restaurant that became a favorite of residents and visitors over the past three decades.
Black Eyed Susan’s kitchen will be led by its former longtime chef Todd Edwards, who will be returning to the restaurant after working in Texas. Edwards will work closely with Anna Worgess-Smith, also of The Proprietor's, “to help bring a new twist” to Black Eyeds.
"I’m so excited to be a part of such a long-standing Nantucket tradition," Worgess-Smith said. "And to be partnering with Mike, Orla, Todd, and the Crowes."
Edwards added: "I couldn’t be happier to be working with this amazing team who I’ve loved and admired for over a decade, and to be doing it in such a beloved Nantucket institution is just icing on the cake. I can’t wait to get to work and show everyone what we have in store."
The new ownership group said that dinner will be the sole focus at the restaurant for the 2023 season, and breakfast will be added back for 2024. Black Eyed Susan’s will be accepting reservations booking seven days in advance and plans to continue the BYOB tradition. The restaurant will also host private events and catering on-site for special occasions.
For the LaScolas, who previously ran American Seasons on Centre Street before opening The Proprietor's in 2013, their new restaurant venture will be just steps away from their current establishment on Federal Street.
Taking on two dining restaurants at the same time will undoubtedly be a challenge, but the LaScolas have some experience. They ran both American Seasons and The Proprietor's simultaneously for a year before selling American Seasons to chef Neil Ferguson in early 2015.
While Black Eyed Susan’s had not been publicly listed, a former employee and another associate told the Current earlier this year that the restaurant and the real estate at 10 India Street had been privately put up for sale since at least the spring of 2022. That’s when Handy and Worster reportedly told their employees that Black Eyed Susan's was not reopening, and was instead being sold.
Even as the establishment was dormant for nearly two years, Handy and Worster were still on-island running The Chanticleer in Sconset, which they have done since 2006.
Handy and Worster opened Black Eyed Susan’s in the spring of 1993. They had originally met several years before while working on-island at The Boarding House and then The Summer House. They found the small space on India Street - which had previously been known as “Two Steps Up” - to open up a dining establishment of their own. Black Eyed Susan’s became an instant hit, with lines down the street in its first summer as word spread in the community about their breakfast menu. In 1996, they purchased the 1930s-era building at 10 India Street and cemented Black Eyed Susan’s as a staple of the downtown dining scene.
Handy’s hospitality and Worster’s food, not to mention the diner-type ambiance of the interior, the open kitchen, and the BYOB policy, all helped endear Black Eyed Susan’s to residents and visitors alike.
“We wish Jeff and Susan continued good fortune at The Chanticleer,” the new ownership group stated.