The Aquinnah Shop Restaurant atop the Gay Head Cliffs is a morning ritual for many early risers. What it lacks for convenience, it makes up for with spectacular vistas. The scent of blueberry pancakes, or the homemade fishcakes, adds to the sensory seductiveness. A metal spoon jingles in every hot coffee that is served, always in a glass cup.
“There is no restaurant that has a better view,” says Carolyn DelGuercio of Easton and Edgartown, looking out over at least six recreational fishing boats working the shifting currents beneath the cliffs (the Aquinnah Shop is an ideal spot for learning the fishing spots).
More than once a year, she and her husband, Gino, ride their bicycles from Edgartown all the way up to the restaurant for breakfast. On this morning, they left the house at 7:30 and traveled an hour and a half to the their table. The morning was cool and dry, perfect for any athlete.
“This is our pilgrimage,” says Mrs. DelGuercio. The couple makes the trek whenever they are vacationing on the Vineyard.
Five generations of Vanderhoops and Madisons have run the store. It began with Napoleon Madison, and now the store is run by Cully Vanderhoop. On this morning he is assisted by his 20-year-old son, Jacob.
It seems on most mornings there is a Vanderhoop somewhere other than in the kitchen, too.
Rick Vanderhoop was seated having an omelet. An infrequent visitor, Mr. Vanderhoop said he was dragged to the restaurant by his friend Susan DiNatale. She comes more often. “I get blueberry pancakes every time I come here,” she smiles.
“Blue corn pancakes are the most popular,” adds the waitress, Lisa Lane.
— Mark Alan Lovewell