A fixture on Menemsha Harbor for more than half a century, Larsen’s Fish Market is planning a major makeover this winter.

The plan calls for demolishing the existing 1,300-square-foot shingled building and replacing it with a new commercial fish market, within the same footprint.

Betsy Larsen has worked at her family-owned market since 1974. — Albert O. Fischer

Longtime family owner Betsy Larsen said the need for a better, more efficient building became apparent as the business has grown over the decades.

The existing market building dates to 1998, and sits on a lot owned by the town of Chilmark and leased to Ms. Larsen for commercial fishing-related purposes. The original fish market was built by her parents Louis and Mary Larsen in 1969.

“When we rebuilt it 25 years ago . . . I so was interested in keeping the old building,” Ms. Larsen told the Gazette by phone Thursday. “Then things just got busier here. One of our plans is to make it more user friendly, not only for the customer but the staff, separate the kitchen . . . it made more sense.”

Permitting for the project is still in its early stages. The Chilmark conservation commission has approved the project, but Ms. Larsen is still awaiting a building permit

The fish market closed for the season last weekend, and work is planned to take place over the winter months, once all the permits are in hand.

Fish market will be razed and rebuilt from the ground up. — Albert O. Fischer

“I’m nervous and excited,” Ms. Larsen said. “I’m attached to the old building, not literally but almost,” she added wryly.

One of two fish markets on historic Dutcher Dock, Larsen’s has attracted legions of faithful customers with freshly caught seafood, prepared chowder and lobsters cooked to order since its opening in 1969.

Its popularity may be attributed as much to its proprietor as to its product. Ms. Larsen began working there for her parents in 1974, before stepping up to manage the market five years later. Her cousin, Stanley Larsen, owns Menemsha Fish Market a few doors up.

In 2019, a flash mob of fishermen, Islanders and seasonal residents surprised Betsy and her sister Kristine outside the store to help celebrate the market’s 50th anniversary — a tribute to the warmth and loyalty they have inspired in suppliers and customers alike.

Now the market will be rebuilt from the ground up.

The project has been in front of town land use boards since this summer. In July Reid Silva of Vineyard Land Surveying & Engineering filed a notice of intent with the conservation commission, outlining the proposed scope of work. The plan calls for erecting construction fencing around the perimeter of the project and removing the existing building and foundation with a hydraulic excavator and installing a new foundation. An existing tight-tank used for washing will be pumped and removed and replaced with a new one. The building will not include restrooms, according to the plan.

On the water in Menemsha village. — Albert O. Fischer

In August, the commission discussed the potential impact of the reconstruction, including control of debris and sediment and potential runoff into the harbor. Mr. Silva told the commission the goal was to begin work in October and complete it in time to open in May.

The plan was unanimously approved by commissioners with conditions, including that all excavated materials be removed from the site on a daily basis.

The contractor for the project is Brian Smith of Edgartown, Ms. Larsen said this week. The architect is Aaron Schiller of Schiller Projects. Mr. Schiller is also a longtime fish market customer, she said. Her nephew Danny Rogers will do the excavation work, Ms. Larsen said.

As much as possible, materials and equipment will be saved or reused. “Things are going to everyone . . . my cousin Stanley will get the refrigerators,” Ms. Larsen said.

She said she hopes to post the plans on Instagram, “once I get all my final ducks in a row.”