To the editor: I am writing on behalf of the recent attempt to shut down The Summer House for the 2023 season. I have been coming to the island since 1976 and live on the eastern end, owning a guest house in ‘Sconset on Evelyn Street, in back of The Summer House. I know I speak for many when I say that we miss the place. The Summer House is a unique example of old Nantucket, a reminder of what was best about this island, a holdover from a simpler time. I truly miss both the restaurant and the Beach Bistro. It saddens me to see the charming cottages empty. I am not alone in my sense of loss. Something very special is no longer available to the citizens and summer residents of Nantucket and it would truly be a shame if the closure continues through the season.
Speaking of the restaurant, it is particularly unfortunate that much has been made of the dog feces found in the kitchen. The kitchen was a construction site at the time, the restaurant was closed, and there was no food on the premises. While it is certainly unfortunate that a dog chose that spot to do its business, it was NOT a health hazard. Rather, the incident was incorrectly reported in the press and served to epitomize the sensationalism of the old adage: “If it bleeds, it leads.” Certainly, the photograph of the dog’s feces that ran on the Nantucket Current was egregious and unnecessary. Yes, it made for a titillating tale, but why was the photo – presumably taken by the Health Department - made available to the press?
Why is it that in this era of Me Too, the only dining and lodging establishment on the island that is run by a woman is being pilloried? This sort of sexism and persecution has existed over the ages, but I thought we’d evolved. The current owner and her late husband created a magical environment for their guests. They are (and were) foodies and tried to serve haute cuisine in a challenging environment where food has to come, for the most part, from the mainland. Both the upstairs bar and the Beach Bistro bar are lively, exciting places to relax and enjoy one of the most beautiful places on Nantucket. Toes in the sand, drink in hand, fried calamari on the table, what could be better? The Summer House is truly special and is in the process of righting the wrongs that it has been accused of. In any other part of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, this sort of rectification would be encouraged and applauded. Please do the right thing: allow The Summer House to clean up its act and reopen this season.
Jessica Stedman Guff
(Editor's note: the photo of the dog feces in The Summer House was part of the Health Department's meeting packet for the hearing that is made available online to the general public, not just the press)