I started coming to Provincetown in my teens—it would have been around 1972 or ’73—because some of my friends from high school had lived here. That’s how I got to stay and enjoy the town and get the inside feel for Provincetown. I liked that small-town feeling—hustle and bustle is okay, but I loved the fact that it quiets down here. And the fact that it’s a predominantly gay town and since that was my lifestyle, it made it much easier to run a restaurant. Even when I ran my father’s last restaurant in the early 1980s, people would say, “You’re a woman, you can’t run a restaurant.” Thank god that attitude is changing.
Kathy Cotter: I’m originally from Brockton. My mother started bringing my brother and me here when we were babies. I kind of grew up here. When I was 17, I moved here. It was just the fact that I had been coming here since I was a kid, I knew and loved the area—the beaches, the light, everything about it . . . My first job cooking in Provincetown was Café Blasé. After my first year there, I was promoted to kitchen manager, and I worked there for nine years. After that, I worked at Napi’s for a few years, then I opened my own bakery. Cooking is a good business to be in—basically, you always have happy customers.
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Donna: After my father died, I left his restaurant with a small chunk of money. I worked in Provincetown flipping burgers for a while, just to see who the food purveyors were and to get a feel for the town. What is now my restaurant had been called Front Street since the early 1970s. Through friends, I heard it was for sale. It was a price I could afford, and I couldn’t understand why people weren’t jumping at it. I found out afterwards that there were parts of the building that were crumbling and you had to put some money into it. But it was all still worth it.
My father’s restaurant had your typical Italian food—parmesans, pasta with meat sauce bolognese, that real New Jersey Italian food. When I came here, I tried to break away from that during the fine dining, gourmet revolution. After that first season, I said, “I can’t do just this. I have to make Italian food.” Over the last 10 years, I’ve gone from the plain New Jersey Italian menu to more of a Mediterranean fusion. I’ll use my interpretation of food that I’ve seen cooked in France and Italy and apply it here.