The Right Fork Diner, a beloved, bite-sized restaurant overlooking the Katama Airfield, will not reopen this season after 15 summers in business, owner Jamie Langley confirmed Tuesday.

Ms. Langley said that she did not intend to submit a lease bid after the town issued a Request for Proposals for the airfield restaurant space earlier this winter. The town owns the Katama Airfield and leases the restaurant building, while the Katama Airfield Commission acts as landlord.

Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Langley confirmed the decision not to renew her lease.

“I’m not placing a bid,” said Ms. Langley. “It was not an easy decision to make.”

Nestled beside the Katama Airfield, the quaint diner is best known for offering breakfast and a show, with piles of pancakes and steaming cups of coffee served each season to a backdrop of biplanes lifting off and landing at the historic airfield.

Ms. Langley opened the diner in 2005 at the request of friend and former airfield manager Michael Creato. In the 15 years since, it has evolved from a casual eatery — and a part-time gig for Ms. Langley — into a full-time seasonal restaurant.

Ms. Langley said the recent decision not to bid on the RFP came partially as the result of business calculations after her three-year lease was set to expire earlier this year. The rate was $50,000 per year.

Known for good food, long lines and beautiful view. — Mark Alan Lovewell

In a Nov. 13 letter to the Katama Airfield Commission, Ms. Langley wrote that she would not extend her lease beyond its February termination date, instead requesting the town issue an RFP for a new lease that included several capital improvements to the one-story restaurant. Ms. Langley requested the town repair chimney leaks, replace the roof and install a long-sought basement for storage.

“The purpose of this letter is also to outline my desired terms and conditions for the new lease which will enable me to continue to grow the business at the Right Fork Diner premises for years to come,” Ms. Langley wrote.

In December, the airfield commission sent Ms. Langley a letter saying they would not provide consent to extend the terms of the lease beyond its expiration, and would issue a new RFP in early 2021, taking her comments under consideration.

The town put a new RFP out to bid for the space in March. The terms of the RFP were a seven-year lease, with the option to extend for two, three-year periods. The minimum annual lease payment would start at $40,000, and increase to more than $50,000, with incentives for higher bids. Bids for the RFP were due Wednesday at 2 p.m., and will be awarded to the “most advantageous” proposal at the Edgartown selectmen’s April 19 meeting.

According to town administrator James Hagerty, there has been substantial interest in the space. One of the lease requirements is that the restaurant provide special consideration to patrons who arrive by aircraft, as well as pilots.

Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Hagerty said that bids were submitted for the RFP from individuals connected to Little House Cafe, the Edgartown Diner and Backyard Taco. The airfield commission is scheduled to discuss the bids at their 9 a.m. meeting Thursday morning.

Ms. Langley cited deteriorating communication and disagreement regarding the town’s lease priorities, as well as frustrations over lack of a Covid relief on rent, as partial factors in her decision not to bid.

“I ran the numbers again with what they had proposed…and it just wasn’t something that would work for me as a business model,” said Ms. Langley.

The airfield’s small restaurant space, which has taken many forms over the years, has a long and eclectic history.

For years, Mr. Creato and his brother ran a snack shack in the space — a childhood landmark for many Islanders. When the town bought the property in 1983, then-airfield manager Roy Nutting and his wife, Mel, opened Mel’s Diner. Years later, Ms. Langley took over operations.

The restaurant has become a favorite in the hearts of Islanders and summer visitors.

“It’s exciting to open up and know [you’ll see] these families that come each and every year,” said Ms. Langley. “It was just a really wonderful circle of life thing…feeding [people] and making them happy.”

Although Ms. Langely will be leaving the right fork behind, the closure does not mark the end of the Right Fork Diner, she said, noting her current search for alternate restaurant spaces in Edgartown and around the Island. As for this summer, Ms. Langley said she plans to run a grab-and-go version of the diner at a market space next to the Kelley House, and offer catering and aviation catering.

Reflecting on the business over the past decade and a half, Ms. Langley singled out her staff for their help over the years. “I’ve been so fortunate to have such a great Right Fork family…I’ve had exceptional people helping me along the way,” she said.

Concluding on a bitter-sweet note, she thanked the community for their support.

“I will miss seeing the families that became so much a part of our lives,” she said. “It’s hard to think that I’m not going to be there for people because I just have always felt such a connection.”