Over the last 50 years, many restaurants have operated out of a seasonal building located at the end of a 200-foot pier that juts into Rockland Harbor. But in recent summers, all has been quiet on the pier.
That’s about to change.
Following a three-year hiatus, landmark Rockland eatery The Pearl is slated to reopen at the site this summer under familiar ownership. And this time the business plan is accounting for winter too.
Owner Larry Reed, who operated the Pearl from 2016 to 2018, said he’s excited for the restaurant to return. It will operate in tandem with Eclipse of the Pearl, a new restaurant on the landside of the pier that opened last summer, which will stay open in the cold months.
Reed is leasing the buildings and working in partnership with the property’s new owner, Joseph Reynolds.
“The Pearl is a great opportunity. For about 3 1/2 months, it’s insanely busy there. But the problem is if you want to attract a good staff, which you desperately need especially in these times, then you have to be able to offer a core group of them full-time year-round work,” Reed said.
Having a second restaurant open during the times of year when The Pearl is closed will offer staff year-round employment.
Eclipse of the Pearl opened in the former Conte’s restaurant location at the base of the pier in June 2021. Opening that first allowed the extensive repairs to The Pearl to be done while a core staff for the pair of restaurants was established, Reed said.
There’s still a bit more to be done before The Pearl reopens though. Construction on the pier’s walkway has been completed and additional pier work still needs to be done both around the building and underneath it. Some cosmetic work also needs to be done inside of the restaurant itself.
Reed estimates that the work will be completed this spring and The Pearl will open by the third or fourth week of June.
When The Pearl is open, the land-based restaurant will close and pivot to serve another non-dining purpose ― such as a space for private parties ― before reopening in the fall.
Despite the prime location, The Pearl ― and the restaurants previously located there ― struggled. In 2004, the building was destroyed by a fire that was later determined to be arson. It was rebuilt and reopened in 2010 as The Pearl, but went through a string of ownership and management changes, including a Food Network chef who ran the restaurant for one summer.
Reed said he experienced a couple of successful summers running the restaurant. However, it was closed after the 2018 summer season because the property owner put the site up for sale, not wanting to invest in the significant repair work needed there. Under Reynold’s new ownership, those repairs ― such as the pier renovation ― are being done.
Being from Rockland, Reed feels he has a good idea of what both locals and tourists in the city want in a waterfront dining experience.
“There have been a lot of folks that have come in from the outside that had ideas on how to run that business and for some reason or another most of them didn’t succeed,” Reed said.