Friday, May 28–Fenwick Island Landmark Celebrates Two Decades

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OCEAN CITY — Some have
said that David and Janet Twining built Nantuckets Restaurant on an exceptional
bowl of soup, but that would only be part of the recipe, and according to them,
not nearly the most important ingredient.

As the couple recently
celebrated 20 years as award-winning restaurateurs of the Fenwick Island
mainstay, they have their eyes set on the future, as their newest venture,
Twining’s Lobster Shanty, is poised to open in a matter of weeks on the Route
54 corridor.

As they looked back on
the last 20 years, and forecasted what lies ahead for the next 20, Janet
Twining quite literally gets choked up talking about Nantuckets’ humble
beginnings as a run-down beach cottage in the quiet resort of Fenwick Island.

“When we got this
building, we didn’t have any money and we really didn’t know what we were going
to do,” said Janet. “Dave had just left the Ocean Club and I was working at The
Dispatch
as a sales rep when I was approached by the people who owned
this place when it was Galeano’s. I told David we had three days to make a
decision, and we realized after three days that we had no other choice but to
open our own place. The rest is pretty much history.”

When they opened Nantuckets
in 1990, their two sons were toddlers, and the Twinings were seemingly just
another young couple trying to make a year-round living in a seasonal resort.
Although they had years of restaurant experience under their belts, they went
against the grain and opted for a white table cloth-New England-themed
restaurant offering good comfort food and a warm homey environment smack dab in
the middle of a handful of resorts and businesses that have excelled at
packaging up escapism like a frozen umbrella drink to tourists for the last
hundred years; palm trees and all.

“We’ve never wanted to
do what everyone else was doing,” said Janet. “I love palm trees, but we wanted
to make this place feel like home for people who were away from their homes. I
don’t think we were ever scared that the idea wasn’t going to work, because we
didn’t have any time to think about that. We were working too much and too
hard.”

From the beginning,
David created all the dishes from scratch, including the infamous Quahog
Chowdah that has been on the Nantuckets menu as long as the Twining name has
been on the marquee. The Twinings believe that the business has remained
successful and continued to grow because of the laid back and unpretentious
atmosphere that they’ve created, the top-notch quality of their product, and
most importantly, the people who continuously come in the doors.

“A lot of our friends
really helped us, and that’s what makes this really emotional as we are at 20
years,” said Janet. “They were literally in here helping us put the place
together and then they were the first people to come in when we opened. We
couldn’t begin to thank people enough for all the help they gave us at the
beginning. Our friends became our customers, and now it’s to the point where
our customers are becoming our new friends. It’s our own little world in here.”

What started with a
small run-down beach cottage has evolved into a full-tilt machine, with
hundreds of dinners being served literally every night in the summer, a million
dollar renovation that is less than five years old with brand new appliances
and space, all powered by a wind turbine and solar panels that were installed
last year, in addition to numerous industry awards and accolades.

David Twining says
staying current with the trends is vital for the ever changing world of the
restaurant business.

“You have to like food
and look at how people are consuming and spending,” said David. “You have to be
conscious of what they are looking for. There was a big push for calorie
counting or higher-end dishes and that sort of thing a few years back and
obviously now people want a value more than anything.”

On any given night,
you’ll find both David and Janet strolling the dining room or sitting alongside
their guests in the taproom, as David has stepped out of the kitchen thanks in
part to the exceptional work of chef Michael Priola, who has run the kitchen at
Nantuckets for the last decade.

“He’s been such a
valuable asset to our success,” said Janet.

As with Nantuckets, the
Twinings have seemingly gone against the grain in coming up with their new
restaurant idea, the Lobster Shanty, which they say will be themed like an “Old
fisherman’s shack” with intricate wooden décor, a warm environment, a seafood
market, a steamer and raw bar, as well as fresh lobster being steamed on the
spot for customers, in addition to a full dinner menu.

“Just like with
Nantuckets, we were approached about taking the space over, and it just
happened at the right time, and it just all felt like it was meant to be,” said
Janet. “It’s such a beautiful view and we are really excited for everyone to
see what we have in store over there.”

With their boys both
grown and out of college, and both involved with the family business in some
capacity, the Twinings aren’t necessarily eyeing up retirement anytime soon, as
life in the Twining house literally has come to mean working alongside one
another in the restaurant, and now, restaurants.

The Twinings say that
this fact is why it was so important to create an at-home atmosphere in their
establishment.

“When people come into
these doors, it’s like they are coming into our house,” said Janet. “We take
pride in the fact that we’ve always treated this restaurant and the people who
come here as if we were having company at our house. But, I ask David all the
time when we are going to retire, and he tells me that we already are, so if
this is what being retired feels like, then we couldn’t be happier and more
thankful and excited for whatever is next.”

 

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