The ArtCliff Diner in Vineyard Haven reopened Thursday after an almost two-year closure for renovations.

Its Beach Road parking lot was full 15 minutes before opening time at 7 a.m., and a long line of diners stood outside, excited to sit back down at the beloved Island restaurant.

Customer Edward Pachico said he has been eating at the ArtCliff for decades. He sat at the bar and looked over the menu, unsure of what to order.

“Sometimes that’s the problem — too many good options,” Mr. Pachico said.

Renovation expanded the interior among other improvements. — Jeanna Shepard

Diane English, Emily Rose and Jim Marrow came to the diner from Chilmark, and said they last ate there the day before it closed for renovations. They set alarms to wake up early for more than just the food and the mood.

“Like everything else on the Island, it’s really about the people,” Mr. Marrow said, just as the doors opened for the day. Paper menus sat at each place setting, topped with mugs sporting the ArtCliff’s logo waiting to be filled with coffee.

The most notable change to the diner is the removal of the wall between the dining room and kitchen. Now, nothing separates the newly remodeled kitchen but the iconic ArtCliff bar and stools.

“It’s 80 years old this year, so there was a lot of stuff that needed taking care of,” chef-owner Gina Stanley told the Tisbury select board last Wednesday, during a public hearing on her application for a license.

The diner also has new windows and flooring, the customer bathroom has been expanded and the patio was improved, she told the board. There is also a take-out window for order pick-ups, routing traffic away form the inside of the restaurant during busy times.

Ms. Stanley with Joe Costa. — Jeanna Shepard

As the ArtCliff renovation wound to its end this year, Ms. Stanley said she had many visitors stop by and take a look. Though much has changed, some aspects of the diner remain the same.

“Everybody said it still feels like a diner,” she said.

Visitors have also regaled her with their personal memories of the ArtCliff in years gone by, said Ms. Stanley, who has owned the business for more than 20 years.

“Who proposed to who on what stool, whose father took them to what stool, who had their first grilled cheese there — It’s sweet, you know, to see people in their 70s and 80s come in [and] they tear up when they see it,” she said.

The bar and its seven stools stayed put, along with what Joe Costa, 93, called the “round table” in the corner.

Building community around the breakfast table. — Jeanna Shepard

“Me and the boys used to come in and sit there every morning before work on the boats,” Mr. Costa said. “That must have been back in the 1950s.”

Mr. Costa is a pilot and builds model airplanes. Much of his model collection is displayed at the Katama Airfield.

Early this week, he dropped off a bright yellow model airplane, which now hangs in a corner of the ArtCliff opposite his favorite round table — his way of giving back to a place that holds so many memories.

“It was good times,” he said. “We had a lot of fun here.”

More pictures.