Relish | Waterfront West Condominium (Unit S).
Under one name or another, 93 Commercial Street has been feeding the town for more than a century. The building is identified as a grocery store on the 1912 Sanborn street atlas. Bill Travis was the proprietor in the early 20th century, according to Josephine Del Deo, and he had the bright idea of hiring young Marion Agostinho “Bert” Perry (1901-1977). Perry was on record in 1934 as the license applicant for the store. (At the time, the building used the address of 91 Commercial Street, which was later assigned to the abutting property, on which Rep. Gerry E. Studds built a summer home.)
Perry was a son of Amelia (Hill) Perry (1876-1903) and Manuel Augustine Perry (1867-1915). His uncle was Capt. Marion “Bertie” Perry, owner of the fabled schooner Rose Dorothea. Without a mother from the age of three, young Bert was taken to sea with his father and tied to the mainmast in rough seas to ensure that he would not be swept or knocked overboard, Del Deo said. Before getting into the grocery business, he worked as a teenager at the Cape Cod Cold Storage plant.
Perry’s Market operated for a half century, Del Deo said. Among its special customers was the fisherman who saved little Bert’s life when the vessel they were on sank rapidly and the boy was abandoned by crew members who assumed he was in someone else’s dory. Bert’s rescuer returned to the wreckage, where he found the boy. Perry supplied him with groceries for the rest of his life, Del Deo said. The market survived the Depression, then a bad fire in February 1940, then the shortages caused by World War II — with considerable grace. “Because, this year, most of our Easter offerings are unobtainable or closely rationed,” Perry said in an April 1943 newspaper advertisement, “we are placing no limit on our good wishes to you on this great holiday.” It did not survive the death of its proprietor by too many years, however.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the store was operated under a number of names — West End Deli, T. R. Scherer, Seaside Deli, and Willy’s — by a number of proprietors, identified by Marjorie Bullock in the comment below as Tom and Jane Scherer, Jimmy Santos, and Lana Williams. The 1992 Complete Guide to Provincetown, by Gillian Drake, said this about the Scherers’ market:
“The West Enders’ deli — sandwiches, prepared salads, Italian cold cuts, freshly baked French and sourdough bread daily, pâté, fine cheeses, cakes, truffles, fresh coffee, beer and fine wines.”
Relish was opened in 2001 by Frank Vasello, a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and two partners. He is now the sole owner. “Frank makes it clear that he is not a chef but a dedicated ‘foodie’ who uses his own palette and learned skills along with those of his crew, Mark Buchholz, Nathan Butera and Robert Murphy to create the range of offerings that has made Relish so successful,” Peter F. Demers wrote for One New England. (Buchholz is a chef. And Butera is Vasello’s husband.)
From Buchholz’s “amazing sweets (cookies, cakes, key lime tarts, cream puffs, French almond macarons, pecan walnut bars, lemon squares, and more) to Vasello’s signature gazpacho (it’s his personal favorite on the menu), fresh salad greens, and creative sandwiches, customers plan their vacations around Relish’s summer hours,” Ptownie said in 2017.
As chairman of the town Cultural Council from 2008 through 2010, Vasello championed the creation of an AIDS memorial on the grounds of Town Hall.
For a view of the main house (Units 6 to 8), please see 93 Commercial Street.
For a view of the rear structure (Units 1 to 5), please see 93 Commercial Street.
¶ Last updated on 21 August 2018.
For further reading online
Perry Collection. Provincetown History Preservation Project.
“Meet Frank Vasello and Nathan Butera … and Relish!” 8 October 2017. Ptownie.
Grave sites in Provincetown
Perry, Marion Agostinho. Find a Grave Memorial 28375553.