Aquila Martha’s Vineyard recently opened its third location at the First Light Café at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, joining their two previous locations at the Gay Head Cliffs in Aquinnah and the YMCA in Oak Bluffs.

The new venture, fueled by a spirit of collaboration, creativity and community focus, has Aquila assuming management of the space while preserving the café’s name and atmosphere. Aquila is owned by the husband and wife team of Del and Jenn Araujo, who opened their first space in 2022 at the Gay Head Cliffs in Aquinnah. They began running the cafe at the YMCA in 2023, and there was an opening celebration on Friday, March 22 for the new venture at the museum.

“We are excited to welcome Aquila on-board,” said Heather Seger, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. “This partnership not only signifies a step forward in offering an enhanced experience but reinforces our commitment to celebrating and integrating the rich cultural tapestry of Martha’s Vineyard into every aspect of the museum.”

The road to the museum began last year when Mr. Araujo, a board member of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, attended a meeting hosted at the museum. Taking a quick stroll around, he spotted the little café. He immediately saw the potential and reached out to the Ms. Seger to find out more information.

Museum patrons enjoyed the new food at opening night Friday. — Ray Ewing

“It just such a special place,” he said in an interview with the Gazette.

The Aquila team then began catering the museum’s Friday Night Reset events, which serve as a gathering spot in the offseason for Islanders to unwind with board games, crafts, puzzles and a featured activity that changes weekly.

“It’s been great because it started us thinking outside the box and getting creative with our offerings,” Ms. Araujo said. “Every week we have different themes, including salad bars, flat breads, a nacho bar and a chili night.”

The Aquila owners not only became advocates of the event but also the museum’s programming, which focuses heavily on community involvement.

“We were able to see the potential of the First Light Café very quickly,” Mr. Araujo said.

The focus of the café will revolve around easy grab-and-go meals such as wraps and salads, fresh brewed coffee and cold brew, Mr. Araujo said. They will also provide fresh pastries, including croissants and cinnamon rolls, all baked daily by Ms. Araujo. There will be a cold case filled with a variety of beverages, as well. The purchasing of an espresso machine is in the works.

“We just want to make it really easy and fun for people to come here, eat good food and relax,” Ms. Araujo said.

As the First Light Café evolves, the Araujos plan to switch up the offerings to see what kind of foods customers want and what works for the space. One thing is certain though: it will continue to offer less expensive options for patrons.

“We’ll continue to streamline things on our menu to keep it nice and simple, but we want to make sure our customers know they can come and get a lunch that will fill them up with both lighter and healthier options,” Ms. Araujo said.

As the business grows, the couple hopes to work with Island farms to bring in fresh, local foods to the café. They also want to promote the café as a destination for those who work remotely on the Vineyard to come and spend part of their workday.

“We want to fill a void. Not necessarily solely as a restaurant, but also place where you can go and get away the everyday hustle and bustle,” says Mr. Araujo.

Since Aquila opened its first space in 2022, the Araujos have been focused on the Martha’s Vineyard Community hoping to create something meaningful for the Island.

“Growing up here, the community focus has always been baked into my DNA. It’s part of who I am,” Mr. Araujo said. “With our first two spaces we had a focus on our tribal community in Aquinnah, then our year-round community at the Y and now at the museum we will have a combination of everyone, both Islanders and visitors alike.”

More pictures.