“On New Years Day 1971, the doors to the Black Dog Tavern opened. Everyone said the chowder was just right, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house.”
The Black Dog is a restaurant and tavern in Vineyard Haven on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. The restaurant was founded in 1971, and became well known for its souvenir T-shirts, featuring its logo of the eponymous black dog. They subsequently expanded to sell other products with the same logo.
The Black Dog T-shirts became well known during the 1990s as photographs of celebrities wearing the shirts began appearing in national publications.I also remember they changed the color of the t’shirt every year so that kids had to have the “new color” every summer-very smart marketing! A photograph of then-President Bill Clinton jogging while wearing one was distributed by national wire services. Black Dog merchandise became part of the Lewinsky scandal, as items from the store were purchased by Bill Clinton and given to Monica Lewinsky.
Marketing at The Black Dog was effective. During the early 1990s, the merchandise was only sold at the Martha’s Vineyard location. Only a limited number of people were allowed in the store at one time, so lines formed down the wooden fenced ramp that ran from the front door. While waiting in line, visitors were given catalogs to browse. Nowadays, the merchandise is also available at “mainland” Cape Cod and Newport “Black Dog” stores as well as online.
In 2000, The Black Dog released a cook book called The Black Dog Summer on the Vineyard Cookbook.The New England Multihull Association and The Black Dog host a 22-mile yachting race from Vineyard Haven to Edgartown and back called the Black Dog Dash.
The Black Dog currently has many locations on Martha’s Vineyard and one on the island of Nantucket, as well as in the mainland Massachusetts towns of Falmouth, Mashpee, Provincetown, Newburyport, and Chatham. Outside of Massachusetts they have stores in Newport, RI, Portland, ME, Mystic, CT, and Annapolis, MD.