Dining Guide

Upper Cape Dining Guide is an annual publication of The Enterprise News in Falmouth, MA.

I re-imagined a local dining guide to include not just restaurant menus as we did in the past, but this time with thoughtful articles about the venues and about the people who make up the restaurants’ character. The result is a beautiful magazine with rich content that connects our community readership to our local restaurants — in ways both culinary and neighborly. It was a task best suited for written narrative, rather than in image- and menu-driven advertisements. And our readers loved it!

The Drunken Seal

Check out the menu at The Drunken Seal here.

The Drunken Seal is housed in a building that has a long history of being home to restaurants. Although located right on the bay with great water views and in a quiet, discreet neighborhood, the current owners cannot simply bank on the real estate nor rest on the laurels of their chefs’ well-known successes. Previous ownership left the premises with a bad taste in the mouths of those who frequented their establishment. So the challenge for the new owners is two-fold: establish the restaurant as an up-scale casual beach bar and food venue, while also winning back the market’s intrigue and trust.

Rather than exclaim “New Ownership!” we took a more modest approach and emphasized the new character. Since this is a small market in a small town of mostly middle-aged homeowners with above-average income, the intention is to engage them with a sense of integrity and ingenuity. The Drunken Seal is not just a business with a great view, but a local restaurant and bar whose menu is crafted by chefs whom the market already trusts, and whose ownership is looking to offer a place that will fill the need for a mature adult-focused atmosphere (rather than peddle calamari to the lowest common denominator).

Ultimately, we want regulars. We want people to come to The Seal for drinks before a fundraising event. For lunch with a business associate. For a fun dinner with friends when the kids have finally agreed to behave and go to bed a little earlier. For when people are out for a nice dinner elsewhere, they ask “Where should we go next?” — and for more than one person in the party to quickly say in unison, “How about The Seal?”

East Wind Lobster & Grille

Check out the menu at East Wind Lobster & Grille here.

This was a unique challenge. East Wind is an established, iconic spot that appeals to tourists and locals alike. But it’s presence in this Dining Guide was not going to cut it with a simple menu sample; geographically, this publication’s audience is on the other side of a major bridge. We needed to drive home the reasons for readers to make the trip across the water.

Along with highlighting the owner’s neighborly character and locally sourced fare, we celebrated East Wind’s reputation for high quality food in a casual but beautiful atmosphere. And since this publication tends to find itself in readers’ hands even after the summer high season, we laid the foundation for building up Jean’s cooking classes. 

The goals we set for off-season marketing are almost entirely for her public and private group lessons. The idea is when locals are looking for things to do indoors when the weather isn’t good for outdoor activities, we want them to think of East Wind and learning new recipes and techniques for cooking and entertaining. The colder months mean losing the outdoor deck and seating, so dine-in business is much more limited. After hours cooking classes are a great revenue stream, and fantastic events to promote and share on social media.

Graziella’s Artisan Pizza Co.

Check out the menu at Graziella’s in Sandwich here, and Pocasset here.
Check out the menu at Silver Beach here.

Although an established pizza joint, Graziella’s is growing and evolving. Recent changes are steps toward a more family-centered, dine-in atmosphere. By adding beer, wine, and gelato to the menu, along with renovations to create a more comfortable, relaxed ambiance, Graziella’s wants to be a place for groups to come and hang out. For these reasons, the article focuses on appealing to as many people as possible. It was written simply and highlighted the breadth and versatility of the menus. It aims to inspire readers to not only call for delivery, but to stop in and try different menu items while enjoying the company of friends and family. 

With families as the primary target, the visuals were designed to appeal to both a younger audience and the parents who ultimately make the dining decisions. The cartoon-ish highlights (“Gelato bar,” “Something for everyone”) are meant to excite the general reader, while in text we highlight the artisanal hand-tossed dough and the family sauce recipe. 

Since the company owns two businesses in three locations, we pushed for geographical convenience and distinguished the second business, Silver Beach, for its seafood selections. Unlike the other ads, pieces of the menus are included to re-enforce selection, versatility, and to maintain the reputation as a great pizza and take-out business. 

A Second-Chance Jade

I got a second chance. And this jade embodies that chance.

Jade plants are said to bring luck to its caregiver. At this point in my life, I won’t pin my future happiness to that wish. But I will sure take that luck if it comes my way.

When my friend Melinda showed me her houseplants — an impressive collection that clearly gets plenty of attention and care (inspiring!), I was captivated by her gorgeous jade.

I had just started collecting houseplants and knew little about them beyond the common names. Selecting a new plant involved me eyeing pretty flowers at the grocery store. On my way from produce to seafood, I’d circle once or twice around the floral inventory, see a small plant helpfully labeled “foliage” that looked friendly, and plop it into the front basket of my carriage.

I was a novice and plants were still mere novelty for me.

But her jade, man. It was bright green, had strong limbs, and had perky leaves that extended confidently from its trunk. Clearly, it was happy.

It was also about 40 years old.

My excitement was hard to miss, and my friend showed my her modest collection of little pots with baby jades sprouting from the soil. She had made a small project of propagating the plant. And one of those babies was for me.

The perfect gift for a houseplant beginner.

My beautiful prized jade plant.

It seemed unfair to have lost that little jade when I went to rehab. My former partner refused to part with it when I went back to town to get the rest of my things (and my many houseplants).

So I had become sober and jade-less.

Melinda was one of the reasons I went to rehab, actually. In the storm I had created around myself at the end of my run, she pushed through the mess and reached out to me. She saw that I was not just depressed, not just drinking too much, not just putting myself in danger — she saw that I had lost hope of anything better for myself.

She told me I could get better. And I believed her.

At that point, I knew I was being reckless and that I was lost. I just didn’t care about myself enough to really do anything about it. I didn’t seem worth the effort of getting help and getting sober.

She told me I was worth it.

So I left my life behind to get better. I didn’t know what my life would look like when I returned, but I knew I couldn’t return myself in the same state of chaos and un-caring. I had to learn how to nurture myself again.

Due to reasons largely out of my own control and influence, I did not fully return to that life. Just as that jade baby was not returned to me.

Aside from an intimate relationship that would’ve compromised my wellness, I was afraid that that life I had before rehab — the town I lived in, my friends, my job, my love for my favorite place in the world — would end completely.

But Melinda had another jade for me. From her collection of the other foot-lings in those little pots that my baby jade originated — she gave me another one. Since it was from the same littler, it’s about the size of the jade she first gave me.

I look at it now and think of the part of me that barely survived the depression and the alcoholism. The part that loves that place and the people in my life. The part that still wants a good life for myself. The part that heard her promise.

It’s my second-chance jade. And I treasure both the same.