Captain Nick’s re-opens with a new family at the helm

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 9:15am
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Nestled in between the Block Island Historical Society and the Poor People’s Pub on Ocean Avenue, Captain Nick’s has been noticeably silent and dark this summer after former owners Marc and Katie Scortino decided not to manage the business this year.

That changed the weekend of Aug. 7, when the venue re-opened under the ownership of the Willi family, with Marc Scortino bringing music to the venue that has been home to the Block Island MusicFest for the past decade.

“I began my career at Captain Nick’s as the island’s smallest bouncer in 1996. It’s been a privilege to have been the caretaker of this storied establishment for the last 10 years. I’m looking forward to remaining on as entertainment coordinator under Chris and Jess [Willi]. They are good friends, wonderful people, and the right folks for the job. And it makes sense because Chris is an actual Captain. So Captain Nick’s will be helmed properly,” said Scortino.

Jessica Willi, who is the Tourism Director on Block Island, chatted with The Block Island Times on the family’s new ownership:

“I’ve worked at Captain Nick’s for the past eight years or so and both my parents worked at the bar back in the ‘80s. Both my parent’s first jobs on the island were at Captain Nick’s: my dad was a bartender and my mom was a waitress. Nick’s is an island institution and we hope to be able to continue on the traditions that have grown to be a part of so many people’s Block Island memories,” said Willi.

After the venue opened on Friday, Aug. 7, Willi stated how “happy” her family was with the opening.

“I would say we are really happy with how the opening went, and we feel like the plans we put in place worked to keep it a very controlled environment… We were definitely trying to figure out our system. But people were happy and I was happy with how it went. I think we were pretty lucky and fully prepared. It is so easy to control, especially at Captain Nick’s because we have a literal gate, [we have] our hosts, and staff are on. Most bars don’t have hosts, and [have to] figure out where to seat. We are really treating [Captain Nick’s] as a restaurant,” said Willi.

Business was brisk.

“We had to turn a lot of people away; we were full. The Department of Business Regulation came through on our opening night, and we passed everything,” Willi said. “They were very impressed and said we were very organized. We are very much interested in creating an environment that fosters the rules and regulations.”

Willi informed The Times that table service and seating arrangements adhered to the health guidelines issued by the state Department of Health.

“[We have] table seating only, there is no bar service — you can’t sit at the bar,” Willi said. “The physical bar itself is just a service bar and there’s waiters for all the tables. You come up to the front and speak to the hosts for a seat. The masks are required; we do sell masks at the door. Our tables are all the required distance of six to eight feet apart.”

Willi said Captain Nick’s will be open from Wednesday to Monday, closed Tuesday, opening at 4 p.m.

“It’s a great place to go and have a drink, have a hamburger or hotdog. Enjoy the town [from Captain Nick’s]”, added Willi.

The hours of operation and schedule will continue through Labor Day, and will be reassessed in the fall depending on the staff level.

“Our plan is to continue on the Captain Nick’s legacy that Marc has put into place the last 10 years,” said Willi.

To learn more about Captain Nick’s, follow their Facebook and Instagram pages for updates and announcements.