Scott Dinsmore Antiques (Unit 2) | Jimmy’s HideAway (Unit 1) | Captain’s Court Condominium.
For many years, many Mantas lived in this house, one of a very few jetty-style buildings in Provincetown (second story overhanging the first). In the latter part of the 19th century, it was home to Capt. Joseph Manta (1846-1928), a wholesale fish dealer and shipping agent whose base of operation — Joseph Manta’s Wharf — was directly behind the house, which he shared with his wife, Philomena (Amaral) Manta (1857-1936). The 1901 town directory showed that all three of their sons who survived into adulthood were boarding here: Joseph Augustus Manta (1873-1954), who was then a bookkeeper; John Rogers Manta (1876-1958), a sign painter; and Philip P. Manta (1879-1949), a student. At the time, under the old numbering system, the house was denominated 180 Commercial Street.
Joseph A. Manta was still residing here more than a half century later, until the time of his death, long after the wharf had been damaged and demolished. Like his father, the younger Joseph went into the fishing business. He owned several vessels, including the Francis J. Manta, named for his son — just as his father had named a 74½-foot-long, 66¾-ton, schooner after him. Joseph was married to Emma Cecelia (Silva) Manta (1881-1967). The property was sold in 1959 to Leslie J. Wagner, of East Berlin, Conn., by Philip’s widow, Doris L. (Manta) Berry.
179 Commercial Street in 2009. Photograph by David W. Dunlap.
A 2004 photograph for the Massachusetts Historical Commission. The red and yellow sign at left is for the Szechuan Restaurant.
From the beach, in 2018. Dunlap.
Wagner sold the building in 1965 to Frank D. Schaefer (1937-2007), the proprietor of the White Horse Inn at 500 Commercial Street, and Lillian (Bean) Schaefer, to whom he was then married. Frank transferred his interest in the property to Lillian in 1969, and she sold it two years later to Kent and Rachel S. Ancliffe of New Rochelle, N.Y. In 1973, Mathew Breakey and Beverly A. Hughes of 178 Bradford Street paid $70,000 for the property; or about $415,000 today. Hughes sold in turn to Laurence S. Baker and John W. Behonek of Pleasantville, N.Y., who paid $63,000 for 179 Commercial in 1976.
On to the scene — probably quite clamorously — there now arrived the great chef Howard Mitcham (1917-1996). Though he came from Mississippi, and had spent time in Louisiana, Mitcham was the most influential figure in Provincetown cuisine during the latter 20th century because he advocated doing more of what the town’s Portuguese cooks were doing in the first place: fixing fresh seafood simply and flavorfully. He is more closely associated with the Old Reliable Fish House, Pepe’s, and Cookie’s Tap, 133 Commercial Street, but he operated here for a few years in the 1970s under his own name: Howard Mitcham’s Seafood Restaurant.
Mitcham’s reputation was so formidable that Sally Lindover was emboldened to review his restaurant even before it opened, in The Complete Food Guide to Provincetown 1976:
“We were still eagerly anticipating the opening of this restaurant as we prepared for publication. … A view of the water, red embossed wallpaper, and New Orleans breakfast recipes lead us to speculate that Howard plans to give us the atmosphere back home in Louisiana, and some Creole cooking. Without doubt, the seafood will be prepared superbly.”
Mitcham’s business seems to have been quickly replaced by Jenny Lind’s restaurant (unless the two operated simultaneously on the first floor and in the basement). Breakfast was served at Jenny Lind’s until 3 p.m., with a complimentary bloody Mary, Cape Codder, sparkling wine, or juice. (There is a tenuous connection between Cape Cod and the opera singer known as the “Swedish Nightingale” in the form of the Jenny Lind Tower in North Truro. Legend has her serenading listeners from the tower when it stood in Boston.)
Left: A photograph taken in 1976 for the Advocate by Duane Steele shows 179 Commercial as Howard Mitcham’s Seafood Restaurant. From the Scrapbooks of Althea Boxell, Book 1, Page 94, in the Dowd Collection of the Provincetown History Preservation Project, Page 748. Right: A comparable view in 2008. Dunlap.
Minerva Newman of 5 Webster Place bought 179 Commercial for $85,000 in June 1978. Four months later, Phyllis E. Schlosberg was added to the deed. Schlosberg is best known as the proprietor of the Post Office Café & Cabaret, 303 Commercial Street. One or the other — or both of them — owned the building until 1983.
During this period, Kenneth C. Summerbell and Edward J. “Brad” Brady opened the Courtyard Restaurant here. “Nouvelle and traditional cuisine served in an atmosphere of candlelight, paintings, and pleasant music,” the 1985 Provincetown Business Guild guide said about the 48-seat Courtyard.
In 1983, Summerbell and Brady bought the property for $145,000 from Newman and Schlosberg. That year, they converted 179 Commercial into the five-unit Captain’s Court Condominium. (They would go on to develop the BEKS Condominium at 167 Commercial Street.) Unit 1 was 1,082 square feet, and consisted of the entire basement. It was set aside for restaurant use. Though it was below grade on the Commercial Street side, and reached by a depressed side entrance, it opened up to an expansive view on the beachfront side. Unit 2 was 485 square feet, opening on to Commercial Street under the jettied overhang. It was set aside for retail use. The rest of the first floor was occupied by the residential Unit 3. Units 4 and 5, also residential, were on the second floor.
Unit 1 was purchased in 1984 for $102,000 by Arnold W. Klassen of Provincetown, Frederick T. Morse of Marlboro, and Albert S. Palmer of Norwood. The establishment was run for a time after 1984 as the Pub Down Under by Diane J. Corbo and her partner, Valerie Carrano, the proprietors of the Ravenwood guest house, 462 Commercial Street, and (soon) the Snug Harbor restaurant, 157 Commercial Street. Karen Christel Krahulik noted in Provincetown: From Pilgrim Landing to Gay Resort that the pub featured Foster’s ale, which was then something of a novelty.
Another accomplished chef, Anna Annunziata from Aesop’s Tables in Wellfleet, opened Anna Anna Anna in the latter 1980s. “It was a great restaurant,” said Steven Roderick, who worked here in 1986 or 1987. Anna moved Anna Anna Anna to 149 Commercial Street in 1989.
Dieu C. Tran bought Unit 1 in 1990 for $170,000 and opened the Szechuan Restaurant. The license was also in the name of Bounvilay R. Tran. “This family-owned Chinese restaurant serves good food at moderate prices in an intimate dining room with small patio overlooking the water,” Gillian Drake wrote in The Complete Guide to Provincetown (1992).
Advertisement in Patricia Zur’s Provincetown Art Guide With Fine Dining, 2006.
Scott Dinsmore Antiques in 2019. Dunlap.
The streetfront retail space, Unit 2, was purchased in 1983 for $82,500 by Rene J. LeBlanc and Darryl L. Moore of Provincetown, who sold it in turn three years later, for $145,000, to Daniel Lovette and Richard Stork. Scott Dinsmore Antiques, which now occupies the space, dates to 1990 (though I’m not sure at this writing whether it opened at this location, or moved here after opening).
“Shoppers, depending on the size of their pocketbooks, can buy anything from a $20 garden ornament to a $25,000 Robert Motherwell,” Patricia Zur’s Provincetown Art Guide With Fine Dining said in 2010. Scott Dinsmore Antiques was granted silver status as an antiques dealer in 2019 and 2020 by Cape Cod Life‘s “Best of Cape Cod” survey.
After the Tran family closed the Szechuan Restaurant, the space went vacant. It didn’t come back to life again until 15 May 2007, when Jim McNulty and his husband, Raife Menold, opened Jimmy’s HideAway. McNulty was born in North Quincy but came of age in Manhattan during the AIDS epidemic, when he tended bar at Uncle Charlie’s, a famous gay video bar at 56 Greenwich Avenue, in Greenwich Village. McNulty, who is HIV-positive, came to Provincetown one summer with a co-worker from Uncle Charlie’s and … the sand got in his shoes. But not in a romantic way. “I came here to die,” he told Katy Ward of the Provincetown Banner for an article published 27 January 2018. “The AIDS crisis was happening, and I was losing all my friends in Manhattan. Lots of people were dying around us, and it was scary.”
A year-and-a-half gig tending bar at the A House turned into a 13-year run at the Lobster Pot. He met Raife Menold, who grew up in Morton, Ill., when Menold was trying to locate a Provincetown AIDS Support Group client and McNulty was out walking his dog. They began dating after meeting again at a memorial service in 1995 for a common friend, David Gallerani, the proprietor of Gallerani’s Café, 133 Commercial Street.
The entrance to Jimmy’s HideAway is below street level, but the space itself faces the beach. 2018. Dunlap.
A 2008 advertisement.
Before and after photographs from the Jimmy’s HideAway website.
Eleven is the couple’s lucky number. They purchased this unit, carried by the Town as Parcel No. 11-1-11-001, in 2006, paying the Tran family $210,000. And they married on 11 November 2011 — 11/11/11.
Jimmy’s HideAway was lauded in July 2015 by the writer Micah Nathan in Vanity Fair as a “restaurant twice as good as it needs to be, in a town where T-shirts demanding ‘Please tell your boobs to stop staring at my eyes’ share space with Hans Hofmann exhibits.
“Tucked underground into a candlelit, low-ceilinged space, Jimmy’s HideAway is the sort of place the internet has almost made extinct. There are few secret foodie haunts left, especially in areas with the culinary pedigree of Provincetown, but somehow Raife Menold and his partner Jim McNulty are not famous.”
Nathan said he would always remember the Caribbean-flavored cod fritters he had for appetizers — “flavorful little pods of deep-fried fish, similar in appearance to Indian bhaji, accompanied by the best rémoulade — tart, creamy, subtle — I’ve ever tasted.” After that, he consumed smoked-Gouda corn bread pudding underlying the Statler chicken breast entrée “past satiation, past bloat, past common sense.”
Nathan’s high estimation seemed to be widely shared. At this writing, Jimmy’s Hideaway carried a 4.5 rating from Tripadvisor, making it in the No. 5 restaurant among the 68 rated by the site’s contributors. Out of 824 reviews, 612 respondents gave it an “excellent” rating, and 131 called it “very good.”
Upstairs, the three apartments were owned by residents of Hyde Park; Wilton Manors, Fla.; and Memphis, Tenn.
Raife Menold and Jimmy McNulty, pictured in “For Jimmy McNulty and Raife Menold, One Plus One Equals 11,” Wicked Local/Provincetown Banner, 27 January 2018.
¶ Last updated on 7 January 2021.
David Jarrett wrote on 31 December 2020: Daniel Lovette and Scott Dinsmore shared the shop. While Scott sold antiques, Lovette sold male gay erotic art, mainly in portfolios, with some on the wall in the rear of the store. Daniel had a large male, often erotic, art collection in his West End condo [76 Commercial Street] and in his home in Pennsylvania. He died on 8 May 2014. … We never knew what happened to the main collection.
179 Commercial Street on the Town Map.
Also at 179 Commercial Street:
Thumbnail image: Photo of Scott Dinsmore Antiques, 2011, by David W. Dunlap.
• Emma Cecelia (Silva) Manta (1881-1967)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 126307472.
• John Rogers Manta (1876-1958)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 167704375.
• Joseph Augustus Manta (1873-1954)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 91286080.
• Joseph Manta (1846-1928)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 91284344.
• Philip P. Manta (1879-1949)
Find a Grave Memorial No. 91285436.
• Philomena (Amaral) Manta (1857-1936) — also spelled Phelomina
Find a Grave Memorial No. 91284368.