It’s a gray, muggy morning in early July. A small group sits at the front of Buck’s Harbor Market, drinking joe, chewing the fat.
“Welcome to the Breakfast Club,” says Curtis Brand, a seasonal resident with glasses and a gray mustache, as a first-timer joins them in the Brooksville store’s small dining area.
Introductions are made, and soon, Brand is being given a hard time by another club member. Hal Snow, a Brooksville man (and selectman), is ribbing him for being from “away.”
Snow’s family goes back several generations in Brooksville. Brand and his wife, Marina Demos Brand, only live there part of the year, spending the rest of their time in Connecticut.
Brand takes the needling in stride. “I can’t be a Mainer,” he concedes, “but I can be a member of the Breakfast Club.”
Indeed, the clubbers seem like a welcoming, if comically standoffish, bunch. Some members have deep roots in Brooksville. Others have immigrated after falling in love with the quaint, coastal town on earlier travels.
“It’s sort of a microcosm of the town,” Brand said, referring to the club.
They’re not a formal association, so much as a rotating cast of diners, grocery-shoppers and gossipers. Gathered early every day, their ranks include fishermen, artists, educators and retirees. That morning in July, they discussed everything from Whitey Bulger to the Greek debt crisis to recipes for baking baklava.
It’s not surprising pastries would be a subject of conversation, given the setting. The well-trafficked market includes a bakery, deli and newsstand.
Jeanine Slagle is the pastry chef for both the market and Buck’s Restaurant, which is located on the other side of the building and shares a kitchen with the market. She had prepared cherry-chocolate chip scones for that morning’s breakfast spread. Donuts, danish, muffins and breakfast sandwiches also were available.
The market offers meat and seafood from a counter. By midday, its staff prepares sandwiches and dips (including artichoke-Parmesan-truffle spread).
The market carries many goods you’d expect of a general store — beer, milk, candy, canned goods, toilet paper — and some you wouldn’t.
Jonathan Chase manages both the market and Buck’s Restaurant. He’s particularly proud of the market’s wine selection, where you can get anything from a “$60 Brunello to a $15 white wine from Italy.”
Gesturing to a jar in one of the food aisles, Chase added, “I don’t think you’re going to see quarts of capers in many general stores.”
It’s a seasonal business, open spring to fall, and demand is high in summer. (The Breakfast Club relocates to the town office during winter.)
Summer residents Fred and Patty Green have owned the market and restaurant for about a decade. Chase, who used to run his own restaurant in Blue Hill (Jonathan’s), has managed the two establishments since 2007 and credits the Greens with keeping them afloat.
He also lumps praise on Chef Alfred “Fritz” Knoll, who came to Buck’s Restaurant after owning and managing 66 Steak & Seafood in Blue Hill.
Their menu is constantly changing, Chase said, subject to what fish and produce are in season. They offer a raw bar, with oysters lately coming from Taunton Bay.
A grilled and marinated Atlantic swordfish comes with a spicy mango and papaya relish. A baked Gulf of Maine pollock filet comes with red pepper aioli and a crumb topping.
Other current dishes include jambalaya, chicken cordon bleu, a strip steak, appetizers and desserts.
Knoll said he’s also working on creating a separate, vegetarian menu.
Whether you’re after an intimate dinner, a cup of coffee or the latest local news, they’ve got you covered at their restaurant and market in Buck’s Harbor, morning or night.