New Owner Eyes Spring Reopening For Cap’t Cass Restaurant

By: Ryan Bray

Topics: Orleans news , Rock Harbor , Cap't Cass , restaurants

The sign on the window says closed, but the new owner of Cap’t Cass Rock Harbor Seafood hopes to reopen the iconic restaurant this spring. RYAN BRAY PHOTO

ORLEANS – For the better part of six decades, Cap't Cass Rock Harbor Seafood established itself as more than a legendary local eatery. For many in town, it was an emblem of classic Cape Cod.

It's been more than two years since the restaurant closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Michelle Lamy couldn't stand to see the esteemed local landmark sit idle and unused any longer.

So she bought it.

Rock Harbor Village LLC, of Stoughton, purchased the property at 117 Rock Harbor Rd. on Oct. 7 for $660,000, Town Assessor Brad Hinote said in an email. Lamy, an Eastham resident, and Tiago Batista, of Mashpee, are listed as managers of the LLC, according to records on file with the secretary of state's office.

Lamy, who owns a painting contractor business in Chatham, said she wants to reopen the restaurant this spring with the goal of preserving what she called "a historical, iconic landmark."

A notice on the restaurant's front window says Lamy obtained a building permit from the town on Oct. 25. The permit allows for the building to be renovated with the same siding, roofing and replacement windows and doors.

The historic nature of the building limits what can be done to property, but Lamy said that's not a concern.

"I can't make any changes, nor do I want to," she said.

That continuity will extend into the restaurant's kitchen, Lamy said. She has all the establishment's original recipes, and plans to bring back the same slate of offerings patrons have come to expect over the years.

The existing building has fallen into disrepair, and Lamy estimates that work bringing new roofing, siding, shingling and custom windows to the building will take about 10 weeks. And for those who might be wondering, the buoys will also be put back up on the side of the restaurant, she said.

"As soon as we get the windows and the shingles up," she said. "We hope it will make the town happy."

Beyond work on the building itself, Lamy is also going through the regulatory process of seeking permitting for the restaurant. George Meservey, the town's director of planning and community development, said in an email that no local review or permitting is needed for the restaurant beyond the building permit.

"I've been in and out of the town offices," she said. "I was there yesterday. I'm getting all the paperwork, getting everything lined up. I hope everybody's going to be supportive."

So far, she said, there's been an enthusiastic buzz around news of the restaurant's reopening. Outside the restaurant last week, passersby stopped and commented on the news that's been going around town of its reopening.

"It's been closed for too long," Lamy said. "Let's open it up. I hope we don't get snagged up and lose the season. It's sort of scary to think of that, but I'm hopeful that we'll be able to open the doors [this spring]."

Lamy said she is working closely with the restaurant's former owner to help ensure a smooth transition heading into the reopening. When the doors open, she said she expects to be very hands-on with the business.

"I'll be there. I'll be managing everything. I don't want to just leave it with somebody else," she said.

Orleans has lost its share of restaurants and businesses in recent years. But Lamy said the return of the Cass represents something much more than the reopening of a restaurant. It's the continuation of an important piece of local history.

It also plays a formative role in Lamy's own personal history. She recalled going lobster fishing as a kid with the restaurant's namesake, a colorful character who she said was a regular fixture on the harbor's docks.

"He'd come down and get all the bait racks," she said. "People would leave the bluefish racks and the bass racks, and that's what he'd use for his bait. It's a way of life down there.

"It is a legendary place, and there's not a lot of places that bring you back to old Cape Cod," she added. "That was Cass."

Email Ryan Bray at ryan@capecodchronicle.com