A Place Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Wellfleet restaurant and tavern The Well brings locals together

Text and photography by Marina Davalos
*Pictured above: miso-glazed grilled swordfish served over jasmine rice with asparagus

There’s a new tavern in town. The Well is part of the newly reopened inn, the Wagner at Duck Creek, purchased by Leo and Erica Wagner in January 2016.
And it’s causing a sensation in Wellfleet.

Built in 1919, The Well, formerly known as the Tavern at Duck Creeke (the new owners have since dropped the “e”), retains its original floorboards and guests are welcomed by a fireplace at the front entrance. Grab a seat at the bar and you’ll notice it’s inlaid with 100-year-old sea charts. “The Cape is changing and this is part of old Cape Cod,” says Erica.

What would compel this dynamic duo to leave behind a comfortable life in Boston and buy an inn on the Cape? The answer is simple: their daughters—Cindy, Elisa, Joana, and Gigi, ages 11, 10, 9, and 7, respectively. “We wanted a comfortable place for them, where they could develop a work ethic and sense of community,” says Erica, 38, who is vice president of global real estate with Akamai Technologies in Cambridge and commutes four days a week. Her husband Leo, 55, is a veteran of the Marines with more than 25 years of corporate leadership experience and oversees the day-to-day operation of the restaurant and inn.

Before the Wagners came along, the tavern sat vacant for nearly a decade.

The Wagner family

“The biggest challenge was that nothing worked,” says Leo. “The taps, the plumbing, the electricity. And we basically built a new kitchen.”

The Wagners hired custom woodworker Rick Jacobson to make all new tables for the 85-seat restaurant. Made with 200-year-old floorboards from old Cape homes, the tables feature two legs in the shape of whale tails. Jacobson and business partner, Darlene Pomakis, both live in Wellfleet. They’re also regulars at the tavern.

“We wanted the tavern to be open year-round for the locals,” says Erica, who adds that she and Leo hired the best talent they could find. “Our bartenders, Karen, Hilde and Donna, all have management-level experience,” she says. Bartender Donna Digregorio says it’s fun working at The Well. “Friday night was disco night!” she laughs, “It was awesome!” The Well is experimenting with different theme nights and may offer disco night regularly. The bar serves up local craft beers such as Devil’s Purse and Hog Island, and wines from Truro Vineyards.

The Wagner girls enjoy helping Mom and Dad by folding napkins and shining silverware, and they love greeting and interacting with customers. “The kids are delightful,” says Pomakis about the girls. “The best thing is eating the food!” laughs Cindy, who is in sixth grade at Nauset Regional Middle School. “Dessert!” younger sister Gigi chimes in.

“We wanted our food to be beautiful,” says Erica. The Wagners hired Dan Spurlock as their executive chef. Formerly of Chatham Wayside Inn, Spurlock is known for his delectable dishes. His mouthwatering specials include mussels marinara puttanesca over penne pasta and miso-glazed grilled swordfish over jasmine rice with asparagus. Menu favorites include shrimp and grits, the tavern burger on a toasted Portuguese muffin, and fish tacos featuring blackened local haddock.

The Wagners plan to add a front patio and a back deck for outside seating. “They’re courageous,” says Jacobson of the Wagners, who took a vacant tavern and created a new hangout. “This has become the new Cheers. You sit here and you’re comfortable and you feel at home. They’ve brought a new vitality to Wellfleet.”

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The Well Tavern & Kitchen
70 Main St., Wellfleet,
508-214-0038
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