Village LIFE: Dennis Village

Cape Cod Life  /  September/October 2018 / , , , ,

Writer: Julie Craven Wagner / Photographer: Josh Shortsleeve 

Village LIFE: Dennis Village


Cape Cod Life  /  September/October 2018 / , , , ,

Writer: Julie Craven Wagner / Photographer: Josh Shortsleeve 

Dennis Village

Traveling along Route 6A, it might be easy to assume this charming village on the northside of the Cape is sleepy and quiet. Exactly the opposite is true—it is a vibrant enclave that is experiencing a wave of young entrepreneurs who are reimagining Cape Cod businesses. Photo by Josh Shortsleeve

“Village is a place where you can find peace, unity, strength, inspiration and most importantly a natural and beautiful life.” – Minahil urfan

Where the Past is Present

This is the first installment of a new series exploring the bustling life of villages throughout the Cape & Islands

The history of the Cape and Islands is woven into the fabric of the various villages that anchor the coastline of our region. Seemingly a New England phenomenon (in the context of the United States), the village was the precursor of the town at large, but more importantly a settlement of like-minded individuals, gathered together for community, innovative cooperation, and defense against the countless perils of early colonial life. On the Cape, while most of the villages share common elements, each, like a family of siblings, possess a personality all their own.

A drive along Route 6A, despite the season, is always a blood-pressure-lowering, contemplative exercise, so it seems fitting that it’s the access to a village that appears to be so anchored to the past. The variety of side streets, with names like Whig Street and Pilgrim Road that feed off of Nobscusset Road (named for the original indigenous Nobscussett tribe, part of the Nauset Confederation), harken back to the time of the earliest settlers. Tree-lined streets shade 19th century sea captains homes that peacefully coexist with 20th and 21st century dwellings, all reflecting a commitment to care and upkeep. Bouffant blossoms of hydrangeas in every variety dot the landscape of the summer months, and winter holidays find windows illuminated by candles perched on windowsills.

Anchoring the village for over 90 years are the beautifully manicured grounds of the 23-acre campus of the Cape Cod Center of the Arts, consisting of the Cape Playhouse, the Cape Cinema and the Cape Cod Museum of Art. An evening of entertainment at the Playhouse or Cinema is perfectly capped off by cocktails or a delicious meal at Encore Bistro & Bar, which serves its full menu throughout the year. In the heart and center of the village, the institutions of the past are unquestionably vital today. The Dennis Union Church, built in 1722 and responsible for bringing Reverend Josiah Dennis to settle, stands proudly on a vast village green containing an ancient cemetery that still welcomes current members of the founding families. The grade school used to flank the church, but all that is left is a commemorative bell that acknowledges its former home in the school’s belfry. In the tradition of New England social organization, the firehouse and Dennis Public Library round out the collective of the communal buildings.

Cape Cod Center of the Arts

Campus of the Cape Cod Center of the Arts, consisting of the Cape Playhouse, the Cape Cinema and the Cape Cod Museum of Art. Photo by Josh Shortsleeve

Things have certainly changed and evolved over the last three centuries elsewhere in the world, but in many ways, the life and pursuit of pleasures has sustained in Dennis Village. New businesses (mostly offering home-keeping solutions or fresh, straightforward cuisine), often started by young entrepreneurs, are popping up throughout the hamlet. And many have similar sensibilities; a theme of simplicity and quality tends to run throughout. At the core, most operate with the kind of dedication, hard work and commitment found in an earlier era.

Kender & Sisters Kitchen + Coffee and Firestarter Pizza is one such business, even though it sounds like two. Newly opened this past spring, sisters Margot and Mallory Kender are the talents behind the bakery portion of the business, baking and brewing daily (they also offer a small yet delicious and distinctive lunch menu). Their almond croissants are gargantuan and should be on anyone’s desert island list, if for no other reason than they will sustain you until you are rescued. At 3 p.m., Geoff Boehme, Margot’s husband, shifts the whole operation into overdrive as he cranks out creative and mouthwatering pizzas, wings and most anything else that can withstand an 800°, wood-fired pizza oven.

Julie Dow fulfilled a dream of being part of a vibrant creative community when she opened the Salt Yarn Studio earlier this year. Her mission to connect with her local community and expose the talents of artisans has been well received by village residents and beyond. The shop offers classes, materials and support for knitters and crafters of all kinds while offering unique products not found anywhere else. For example, a local woman applies natural dyes to skeins of yarn exclusively for Salt Yarn in variegated color ways like “hydrangea,” which mimics the many hues found among the iconic flowers throughout the season, and “lobster roll,” which needs no description at all.

BARN & Co. has been a staple in the village for decades. Showcasing work by local artisans as well as popular sought-after brands, they will make a dent in anyone’s gift list. Blossoms Florist, tucked behind an antique home at 543 Route 6A, is just the kind of florist you might want to find in such a village. More like the ultimate “she-shed,” the rustic, whitewashed barn-like shop finds owner Tara Cappello happily creating one-of-a-kind arrangements for lucky recipients. Cappello specializes in unexpected blooms and specimen not found elsewhere that are sure to make your guests notice and ask where you found them.

Nancy’s Candy Etc.

A trip to Nancy’s Candy Etc. is a treat for the whole family. Photo by Josh Shortsleeve

New to the village this spring is the expansive showroom for Unfinished Business. After 18 years at a location on Route 28 in Yarmouth, Joanne and Jeff Marselle have moved into their new digs at the curve on Route 6A. The bright, open new space cheerfully greets visitors with red, white and blue painted Adirondack chairs and tables outside. Once inside, visitors’ preconceived notions of unfinished do-it-yourself bookcases and tables are quickly replaced by attractive, functional furniture and built-ins perfect for any Cape Cod home. Their unique offerings allow clients to customize elements of their furniture choices—options like paint and stain colors, wood choices and overall size specifications result in a truly custom addition.

Elburne is another full-service furnishings showroom with a modern, simple twist on cottage furniture. Their open and airy converted barn has over six rooms of furniture, accessories, lighting and rugs that reinforce the casual, simple pace of life on the Cape. The young and energetic nature of sisters Simone and Laura, who opened the business just over two years ago, is a good match for the village’s vibe.

Nancy’s Candy Etc. has been an anchor in the village for a number of years, as previous customers now return with their children, assuring another generation of childhood memories. Nancy Magnuson magically performs the impossible as she accurately sorts, counts, bags and personalizes each child’s basket of sweet booty, all while children are reluctant to give up their thoughtfully selected treasure. The Mercantile, referred to as “The Merc” by their regulars, jump starts the day with a large selection of coffee and baked goods, but their extensive lunch menu with almost 30 innovative sandwich creations, soups, salads and specials is worth a visit from any part of the Cape. In addition to feeding their customers in a traditional sense, The Merc seems to feed the souls of their flock, since they’re arguably the unofficial heart of the village.

Scout Vintage Home & Garden has recently found a new home in the village. After a few years of unprecedented success in a tiny shop opposite the green, Scout has reopened in a comfortable two-story space at 800 Main Street. Owner Melissa Cox has curated a most amazing store, chock full of intriguing gifts to complement any hostess or, more importantly, your own home. Her deft selection of items has the unique ability to not only attract the lady of the home but also, astonishingly, the men of the manor have been witnessed stopping in their tracks to better examine some of the rare objets d’art and other unusual finds.

The countless businesses, sights and pleasures that lay at your feet when exploring the charming village of Dennis on Route 6A are a testament to what the Cape lifestyle is all about. It is relaxed, friendly, satisfying and steeped in historic nuance. In the space of one-and-half miles, you could socialize, be entertained, uniquely furnish your world and feed your body and spirit, over and over and over again, without ever leaving.

Discover Dennis Village:

Blossoms of Cape Cod

Three years under new ownership, Blossoms is the only full-service retail flower shop in the heart of Dennis Village providing delivery from Eastham to Barnstable. Blossoms can custom design unique floral arrangements for weddings, events, funerals and special occasions. Excellent customer service, quality and freshness are the hallmarks of this family-owned business. 543 Rt. 6A   508-385-0093


An eco-friendly furniture and home décor shop featuring pieces made from reclaimed, recycled and sustainable materials. Owned by sisters, Simone and Laura Pereira, who collaborate with many independent makers and local artists to curate an eclectic showroom full of unique goods. Services include: home consults and interior design.
744 Route 6A 508-694-5536 @elburneco

Nancy’s Candy Etc.

Come in and see why everybody loves Nancy’s Candy Etc. It’s a small and charming old-world shop, chock full of gifts, cards, stuffed animals and candy galore! Nancy’s Candy Etc. is your one-stop shop for your everyday and holiday candy and gift needs. Open year-round.
776 Main Street 508-385-2221

Scout Vintage Home & Garden

Offering an interesting mix of old and new, Scout reflects the owner’s love of nature, gardening, design and France. Besides home decor, it’s also filled with unique gifts, jewelry, cards and accessories. Always a fun and memorable shopping experience. Melissa will be shopping the Paris Flea Markets for Scout in October!
800 Main St, Rt. 6A 508-385-4545 •

the BARN & Co.

BARN & Co. is the Cape Cod destination gift shop on Route 6A in Dennis Village, catering to all of your gift-giving needs. Many local artisans and delightful surprises await your shopping experience. Shop here and have fun!
574 Main Street, Rt. 6A 508-385-2100 •

The Merc

The Merc starts with the 3:30 a.m. bake-off so that you can have the freshest muffins in town. Winner of Cape Cod LIFE’s readers poll in 2018 for Best Lunch and Best Sandwiches. The Merc also offers full catering for events (including groups of 500) or just a backyard BBQ.
778 Main Street, Rt. 6A 508-385-3877

Julie Craven Wagner

Julie Craven Wagner began her experience with Cape Cod Life in 2010 when she joined the sales team after 10 years of working with local businesses on the Cape and Islands with WMVY. In addition to sales, she is the Associate Publisher/Editor of Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME, and Cape Cod ART. Growing up on the Outer Cape has given her a unique perspective of life on Cape Cod, from tip to bridge, and that is reflected in her appreciation and presentation of stories found within the pages of our publications. Julie lives in North Falmouth with her husband, Eric, and their yellow lab, Enzo. When she finds free time, she enjoys her Cape Cod life sailing on Buzzards Bay, spending time on the beach in Wellfleet, or exploring Martha’s Vineyard.