After a 30-year-run at the helm of two of Nantucket’s most beloved dining establishments, Angela and Seth Raynor are selling The Boarding House and The Pearl restaurants to Blue Flag Partners.
Both the real estate and the businesses will be acquired by Blue Flag, which has indicated that it is committed to retaining the names of the restaurants and stewarding their decades-long legacies – even down to some of the recipes that have made them island favorites.
Among the longest-running restaurants on Nantucket, The Boarding House has been owned and operated by the Raynors since 1991. They took over The Pearl in 1999. The two restaurants have been operating as a single entity this summer due to the constraints and challenges of the pandemic, with no bar service and limited seating.
The Raynors’ final night serving customers will be October 3, and the sale is expected to close on October 15. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“I think I cried more yesterday than I have in my whole life,” Angela Raynor said yesterday. “Telling our team was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”
Seth Raynor, who has manned the kitchen as executive chef, and Angela, who led the front of the house, have been serving up meals and memories at the restaurants since their late 20s.
Reflecting on their 30 years in business on Federal Street, Angela remarked on all the couples who had met under their roof, and mentioned with pride the many alumni of The Boarding House and The Pearl who have gone on to make their own mark on the island restaurant industry.
“It’s overwhelming,” Angela said. “It’s exceeded our most improbable dreams. We’re so grateful.”
There were other suitors for the restaurants, Raynor said, but they had been in talks with Blue Flag for months, and have known members of its team for years. She expressed confidence that it was the right choice to steward The Boarding House and The Pearl into the future.
“We’ve watched this group we consider friends come of age at 12 Federal Street, and we know how much they love and appreciate the unique alchemy of this property,” Angela said. “We hope our community of loyal guests and neighbors will welcome and support what is a season of renewal for us and this treasured property.”
Seth Raynor added: “Our mantra ‘don’t give up the ship’ is a mindset. It is what has sustained us across many sea changes and for over 30 years. These restaurants are bonded to the island, and we all felt 12 Federal’s hospitality journey should continue. We’ve lived our vision here, and saw in Blue Flag the creativity and passion that this property needs and deserves in order to remain special.”
Blue Flag Partner’s leadership team includes island native Terry Sanford, along with Jason Brown and Brad Guidi. The firm opened the new restaurant Sister Ship this summer on Centre Street, which is part of its Faraway Nantucket hotel.
“We’re acutely aware of how important these restaurants are to Nantucket and Nantucket culture, so we’re going to do our best to carry on this legacy and bring it into its next iteration while respecting the history and what everyone loves about The Pearl and The Boarding House,” Guidi said. “And we’re fully aware of that challenge, but also excited to thread that needle.”
Guidi said he anticipates both restaurants will undergo renovations before reopening in 2022. It’s not clear, he said, whether they will remain as seasonal establishments or return to year-round service.
Blue Flag Partners has been on a real estate acquisition and development spree around the island in recent years, purchasing a portfolio of downtown inns and lodging establishments, the historic Star of the Sea Hostel in Surfside, along with residential developments including those on Cannonbury and Hawthorne lanes, among other projects on Nantucket.
“There’s a special chemistry that makes this tick – we all love hospitality and projects that excite us,” Guidi said. “What’s most important is that we take every project very seriously and personally. I see the Pearl as threading a needle. People love it so much, so any change you do will be under the microscope and that’s part of the excitement for us.”
For the Raynors, the possibility of selling their restaurants had been on the table in recent years, but the pandemic accelerated the timeline. They haven’t seen their daughter, who lives in Australia, for nearly two years, Angela said. So while her emotions were running high and her phone was buzzing nonstop yesterday, Raynor expressed her anticipation for the next chapter.
“I’m excited to have a summer on Nantucket,” she said. “I think the thing I’m most looking forward to is meeting my husband again 30 years later, with the stresses and pressures of the restaurants. I’m really excited.”