Cape Cod Waterfront Dining on Wellfleet Harbor

Pearl – In Cape Cod Magazine

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 10.02.39 AM

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 10.05.28 AM

PEARL – In Provincetown Magazine

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 9.17.15 AM

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 9.35.57 AMScreen Shot 2014-05-08 at 9.39.54 AM

PEARL – In Cape Cod Day




Cape Cod Life’s Best of 2010 Awards

PEARL was proud to be the recipient of 3 different Cape Cod Life’s Best of 2010 awards. This is a great honor especially for such a young restaurant. Below are the categories and other winners. To view the entire list go to Cape Cod Life’s Best of 2010 Outer Cape Award Winners.


GOLD: The Lobster Pot/ Red Inn & Restaurant, Provincetown
SILVER: Bookstore & Restaurant, Wellfleet/Fanizzi’s by the Sea, Provincetown
EDITORS’ CHOICE: Pearl, Wellfleet


GOLD: The Mews Restaurant & Cafe, Provincetown
SILVER: Red Inn & Restaurant, Provincetown
EDITORS’ CHOICE: Pearl, Wellfleet


GOLD: Beachcomber, Wellfleet
SILVER: The Mews Restaurant & Cafe, Provincetown
EDITORS’ CHOICE: Pearl, Wellfleet

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, PEARL?

A MEMORIAL DAY SNEAK PEEK: New Outer Cape Restaurant sure to wow Wellfleet

Courtesy Cape Cod Today 5/22/09



Last week when Dana Heilman said Pearl would be open before Memorial Day, I looked long and hard. Ankle deep in sawdust, contractors sweating to meet deadlines and a manager with a confident but concerned look on his face didn’t exactly support Heilman’s statement about the opening. My doubt was not assuaged after a quick tour of the progress and a rundown of what still had to be completed by General Contractor Lauren Stapleton, not to mention a visit to the roof decks that were still under construction.

But, what a difference a few days make!


Wednesday, I was witness to a transition that was nothing short of a miracle! As I walked into Pearl I was greeted by General Manager Mac Gallant. Mac was busy attending to a million last minute details. As cell phones rang in the hands of dozens of busy workers, I just stood there in total disbelief!

Executive Chef Bob Wageman and his crew of many were busy cooking in the kitchen for that evening’s opening. The before and after is something right out of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Like a butterfly from a cocoon, a beautiful restaurant has emerged from hanging plastic curtains and cussing contractors. Food was being prepared in the immaculate kitchens and the bar was fully stocked and ready to serve. The bar itself has some unique features. Most impressive being the window area at the back of the bar. The windows lift out to the rear deck where the back of the bar is now a serving counter for the outside deck as weather permits.

The antique material that had been recycled from on-site as well as other historic buildings has been masterfully transformed into walls, tables and the incredible bar. Restaurant designer and metal artist Steven Swain‘s touches are beautiful and eye-catching from the moment you see the Pearl sign at the outside entry to the wall and bar lighting inside. “Swainer” as he is known to those close to him, was agreeing with Dana and the crew that Wednesday was the night, and to everyone’s credit he was right.

Not a bad seat in the house


There are many remarkable accomplishments at Pearl. The fact that there isn’t a bad seat in the entire establishment might just be highest on the list. It is just as exciting to be inside as it is to be outside. And it’s always a comfort being able to see your food prepared. The kitchen is worth a tour itself, very well thought out from prep to clean-up. As you walk by the kitchen, look up and you’ll see that the original Capt. Higgins building has been preserved inside the main building and now houses the state of the art kitchen.

Eat local, drink local

The owners, managers, and chef all boast about using local produce and seafood. Chef Wageman is not shy about having the “best meat and poultry in the business” either. The complete and modestly priced menu has something for everyone including a children’s menu. There are also a variety of appetizers, raw bar entrees, soups, salads and a complete sandwich menu. The land menu boasts Teriyaki Hibachi Steak, NY Strip, Filet Mignon and a Garlic and Rosemary marinated Bell & Evans Chicken Breast. A crispy seafood menu is prepared free of all trans fats. That and the full baked, grilled and steamed seafood menu will make your mouth water just reading it. The bar is fully stocked with beer, wine and liquor. Pearl has eight specialty drinks, especially tempting if you are a martini drinker.

Meet you on the roof

wellfleet-pearl-news-004I have to say my favorite location, and I’m sure will be the favorite of many, is the roof deck. There is a spectacular view no matter where you sit up there. Views of the harbor and glorious distant views as well. Pearl is a real jewel. Seating has been approved for 215, but all hands on deck were quick to point out that there will never be more than 213 seats in the Pearl. “That’s just the way we want to keep it,” Mac was quick.

The locals seem to be happy about the opening as well. Friendly people honk and wave as they drive by. When people stop by, Mac, Dana, Steve and the crew are quick to invite people in for a tour and have been from the beginning. Whether it was in the middle of the winter or now the week of the opening, the crew of Pearl has always been inviting, grateful and gracious to those interested in what they have accomplished.

Capt. Higgins lives on in Pearl

During Wednesday evening’s opening, the crew of Pearl hosted Betty Balch, owner of the former Capt. Higgins Restaurant, as Pearl’s first dinner guest. This Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect opportunity to give Pearl a try. Stop in–the location and people are addicting. It could become your favorite spot too.

Pearl is located at 250 Commercial Street on Wellfleet Harbor in Wellfleet 508-349-2999.



Work Progress – Friday, February 06, 2009

Work continues at the restaurant . . . You won’t recognize the place when we’re done!


Dana Heilman, creator of Roobar, to open ‘Pearl’

Wellfleet Harbor is about to get a unique new restaurant: Pearl will open on May 19th at the site of the former Captain Higgins Restaurant. Believed to be the first of its kind on Cape Cod, according to Owner Dana Heilman, Pearl has undergone a complete renovation utilizing eco-friendly construction practices and will operate in a way that is respectful its waterfront site.

When Heilman, the well-known restaurateur who created the Roobar group, first began considering concepts for the location, “one of the last sweet spots on Cape Cod,” as he referred to it, “It became obvious that everyone was concerned about this fragile sliver of land,” he said. Heilman felt that both renovating and operating Pearl in an environmentally responsible manner was “…just the right thing to do,” as he put it, and immediately began moving forward with plans to create this exceptional restaurant.

Prior to being expanded and run for more than 30 years as the Captain Higgins restaurant, the building was known as the ‘Oyster House’ and then the ‘Spit & Chatter Club’. Heilman said he’d seen an issue of National Geographic from 1941 with photos of bearded older gentlemen sitting around on wooden barrels, shucking piles of famed Wellfleet oysters. As construction began, a total gutting of the building’s interior, Heilman, along with Steve ‘Swainer’ Swain and Lauren Stapleton, his longtime colleagues who collaborated on the signature look of the Roobar restaurants, began to realize that they were unearthing the original outlines of the Spit & Chatter Club and ultimately decided to leave much of it exposed, rising up to a peak above where the open kitchen now sits.

When Heilman, Swain and Stapleton recognized they weren’t going to have enough lumber, they did not head to the local lumberyard, opting to go green instead and reuse planks and doors from another historic area building. “Someone in Harwich was leveling an old building, so we threw him a couple grand and he let me have a truckload of wood, a bunch cedar and old-growth pine,” said Heilman. Taking down the building in Harwich and moving it down to Wellfleet proved to be a labor-intensive and expensive task, but the effort was in keeping with the entire concept of Pearl and Heilman felt it was a “no-brainer.”

Inside Pearl, the vibe will be big on the beachside breezy feel. The 215-seat open floor-plan eatery has wall-to-wall windows, many of which are the old leaded-glass variety salvaged from a renovation of the Woods Hole Inn. All these windows are perfect for capturing the stellar harbor views and salty sea breezes. Stapleton, known for his artistic ability to use materials in unexpected ways, repurposed the doors from the historic Harwich building to create booths, counters and trim-work, now painted in soft blues and greens, using low VOC paints, naturally. He also repurposed the wide-plank pine flooring from the Spit & Chatter Club into a 25-seat L-shaped bar, topped with a water-soluble coating…naturally, which overlooks a marsh behind Pearl. An adjacent exterior bar and deck seating sit under a corrugated steel roof. Sure, the roof looks hip and provides shelter, but it also is a working part of the building’s rainwater collection system that will be used for landscape irrigation. A second story dining deck will offer quite possibly the best water views on Cape Cod.Swainer, who Heilman said was “…a huge influence on making this happen”, is a well-recognized artist whose signature metal sculptural pieces can be found throughout Pearl, from the sign outside that Heilman calls “a piece of art”, to funky pieces scattered throughout the interior.

In an effort to ensure that Pearl makes as little environmental impact as possible to its stunning natural surroundings, day-to-day operations will also be tailored to make certain that Pearl and its employees embrace the whole ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ concept yet do so in a subtle way, ways that will not necessarily be immediately apparent to diners; preparing foods with fresh, local ingredients whenever possible, disposing of food waste into a compost bin made available to the community, using chemical-free cleaning products and generally trying to keep waste to a minimum. Cocktails won’t even be served with plastic stirrers.

Heilman’s partner at Pearl is Brian Sluis, principal owner of the 400 East. Sluis will oversee operations once Pearl opens. Heilman bumped into Sluis for the first time while four-wheeling out on Nauset Outer Beach and immediately brought him down to Wellfleet and talked him through his vision of what Pearl could be. Investors include Bob Brackett, creator of the original Brax Landing, James Peterson, Tom O’Neill, Tom Peterson, Jim Stinson, and Dan McLaughlin. “I’m very happy with the remarkable relationship I have with these guys,” said Heilman. Pearl has come up with a seasonally rotating menu that will focus on using local ingredients to create classic Cape Cod food. Their goal is to provide the old standards, like fried clams and lobster rolls, with more unexpected choices such as a lobster, spinach and brie quesadilla or an extensive selection of simple, grilled fresh seafood offered with an array of unusual sauce choices.

Pearl is not a health food restaurant. It is a restaurant trying to exist in a healthy relationship with its environment…no Birkenstocks required.