Compare Listings

A Local Perspective: The Secret Behind Nantucket’s Charm


Around The Office

J. Brent Tartamella

“As someone that lives on Nantucket year-round, I am often asked about what makes Nantucket so special. I think it’s a blend of, well, everything – the people, sense of place, charming historical architecture, and the beautiful weather (60 days a year – ha!) Despite going by many names, from “Faraway Island” to “the Grey Lady,” none quite capture the full extent of the magic of this little island 30 miles out to sea.

While the island itself is fascinating, the real charm lies in the people you find here. From day-trippers and veteran visitors and seasoned year-rounders, there is something special about the people that make the trek to this elusive spit of sand. Whether queued up for coffee, sandwiches, or drinks, you’re sure to rub elbows with any number of people from all walks of life. Meet moguls or titans of industry, boat captains or surfers, academics or artists; they all share a common bond through their love of Nantucket.

A little bit about “Nantucketing” a verb coined by the Nantucket Hotel:

The warm summer sun rises early, and as some go to sleep, some start their day. The first out are the runners, bikers, and wave riders, followed by landscapers and workers in the trades, and depending on the tide, let us not forget about the early-rising fishing captain. As the morning wears on and hunger sets in, the Downyflake is best for its homemade donuts or Wicked Island Bakery for its spin on morning buns. Coffee is subjective, and whether you’re grabbing something to wake up or to refuel, there are plenty of options: Island Coffee, Roast’d, the Handlebar, or The Green (to name a few!).

downtown nantucket

In the afternoon sun, some are sailing, beaching, or lunching “at the club” while others are perfecting their garden, their tan, or learning to kiteboard. Downtown is quiet this time of day unless, of course, bad weather is blowing in. When the Grey Lady is true to her name, many flock to town to do some leisurely shopping. The cobbled and historic streets are host to many shops where you will find anything from unique antique treasures to classic resort town tee-shirts.

As the sun passes its mid-point, the beachgoers pack up their gear while the anglers and surfers head out for an evening session. Whether you’re readying for dinner or preparing to work the dinner shift, outdoor showers are “de rigueur” in the summer season and the perfect way to energize for the evening. The late dinner crowd might be trying to squeeze into Cisco Brewery, while others are picking up their lobster bakes from Sayles or dinner-to-go from Bartlett’s before they head out for a sunset beach picnic! Those who washed the salt spray from their skin may be off to experience an incredible culinary delight, be it the So-Cal, Baja-inspired food at Millie’s or the most tantalizing flavors featured at The Proprietors or Nautilus. For low-key nights, those in the know pick up incredible fish from 167 Raw or fantastic steaks from the Nantucket Meat & Fish Market and fire up the grill. Or, if you’re lucky, the angler in your party or that early rising fishing captain brought home some incredible bass!

millies nantucket
Millie’s Madaket

While the moon rises, the lines form… some for a barstool, some for ice cream at the iconic Juice Bar, Jack & Charlie’s, or the ever-awesome Island Kitchen. But do you know who is in line next to you? You’ll see the same people you started your day with, and that, my friends, is how the banker, the busboy, and the bartender from all walks of life create a community of connections that are hard to explain anywhere else in the world. However, when you say the name Nantucket, those that know, know.”

Nantucket ice cream


Written By

J. Brent Tartamella

A New England native, with roots and a career in hospitality and private club management, Brent moved to Nantucket in 2004.