We regularly feature the people behind the businesses at Milford Waterfront. We speak to everyone from artists and chefs to personal trainers to learn about their special skills and talents, their favourite dishes/items for sale, what they enjoy most about working at Milford Waterfront and lots more!
As we reflect on Cleddau House’s development since Milford Marina’s opening in 1991, it’s very fitting that we speak to Martha’s Vineyard owner Dan Mills, a family-run fine-dining bar and restaurant overlooking the Milford Haven Waterway. Dan and the team have adapted their usual business practices to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, giving customers the opportunity to order freshly cooked cuisine to eat at home.
As well as home-cooked food, they have also launched “The Cocktail Club” which has allowed customers to enjoy a range of tasty cocktails at home. Hopefully it shouldn’t be too long before they will be able to sip them on a sunny Martha’s Vineyard terrace!
What is the best thing about working at Milford Waterfront?
Being able to walk to work in the summer months along the waterfront, past all the shops and cafés bustling with locals and visitors enjoying themselves really makes me smile! We are so fortunate to be able to live and work in such a beautiful location – the views are ever changing as boats come and go, there’s always something happening around the waterfront and we have this amazing marina which is a hub for great local food, boutique shops and leisure! What more do you need in life?
Is there anything people should know about Martha’s Vineyard that they may not know?
Martha’s Vineyard is the original bar and restaurant on Milford Waterfront, it all started here! It opened in 1991 to celebrate the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race and has been going ever since. It’s gone from standing on its own surrounded by empty, muddy ground to being at the centre of the marina as we see it today.
Over the years, Martha’s Vineyard has had three owners including myself, but we still count many of the original customers as regulars with us today. I think that’s what makes us a bit special for many, we welcome everyone and aim to always give a friendly and warm welcome – we love to hear stories of the “Old Martha’s” but equally enjoy continually moving the bar and restaurant forward, and creating a destination that’s become known for great fresh, home cooked food with a strong influence from the Pembrokeshire land and sea.
What was your reason for wanting to take over Martha’s Vineyard, at Milford Waterfront?
I had been looking for the right bar and restaurant in Pembrokeshire for many years and had one simple criteria – it must be by the water. Martha’s Vineyard literally could not be any closer unless we were on a boat!
The fact I could open here on Milford Waterfront and develop an existing business really appealed to me. I love the town and really believe it’s got a great future as a tourist destination in west Wales. I knew I could be a part of something really unique and special, and was keen to get involved as part of the local business community.
Milford Haven has an abundance of history, how does Martha’s Vineyard incorporate the local heritage?
We were proud to be awarded the Pembrokeshire Produce Mark in 2019 for our commitment to local food producers, so I’m really proud that today our menu is brimming with Pembrokeshire and Welsh produce.
Our steaks and beef all come from cattle reared in Pembrokeshire, our lobsters and crab from Danny on his day boat down in Little Haven, our sea bass from local line fishermen, and the very finest Pembrokeshire turkey from the amazing Cuckoo Mill in Haverfordwest at Christmas and Easter time. Even our homemade chips and Sunday roast potatoes come from the well-known Hayman family at Norton Farm who produce the very best Pembrokeshire potatoes which are sold all over the UK, why would we buy from anywhere else?
But it’s not just about food, we’ve got some amazing local drinks producers in the county too. We work with Harbwr Brewery in Tenby who provide us with an exclusive Celtic Pale Ale called ‘Stack Rock’ (named after the small island in the Milford Haven Waterway) that we serve cask fresh. A cold pint of this with some fresh grilled sardines and homemade bread is what Martha’s Vineyard is all about. We also sell Tir a Mor gin which is a real customer favourite and made just down the road in Little Haven.
As a bar and restaurant with pride in our county, we have a duty to champion and support our local food and drink producers, and I’m honoured to do so!
Do you have any memories of the development over the years of Milford Waterfront?
I think we are at a really important point in time in regards to Milford Waterfront. We’ve got this superb location overlooking the Milford Haven Waterway, a beautiful marina that is ever changing, we are a stone’s throw away from quaint little places like Dale and Little Haven and so make a great base for holidaying as we have this exciting mix of places to eat and drink on our doorstep.
I’m not really answering the question, but I think I am more excited about the future that awaits Milford Haven as we grow in popularity. This can only have a positive impact on the local economy as we create long-term jobs and a really exciting visitor destination.
As we reflect on the last 30 years, but look forward to the future, if you had to serve just one dish for the next 30 years, what would it be?
It would have to be Little Haven lobster! I love it simply grilled with some butter and fine herbs along with a bowl of hand cut, triple cooked chips. It’s so simple yet is such an amazing example of the very best that Pembrokeshire has to offer. Danny Curtis fishes out of Little Haven and I can honestly say that he gives us the very best lobster I have ever tasted, forget all about Padstow and Cornish lobster – you’ve not lived until you’ve tried a Little Haven lobster.
Sitting in the sun on our large terrace on a summer’s day eating lobster washed down with a cold glass of Whispering Angel Provence rose sounds like heaven right now!
Have you got any special skills, talents or hobbies?
My life seems to revolve around food and wine! I love my job and Martha’s Vineyard isn’t just a business, it’s a way of life that I love every minute of. However, when I can escape I love to head away to places like Padstow and enjoy good food and drink – it’s nice to sometimes be served instead of being the server!
Family and friends are also really important to me, it’s easy to get wrapped up in your work when you run your own business. But increasingly, I try to make time to spend time with the people that are most important to me. This summer I have promised myself I will see more of Pembrokeshire and less of a kitchen and bar!
What has been your favourite day in work and why?
It has to have been Milford Fish Festival, the launch day of Pembrokeshire Fish Week in 2019! The whole of Milford Waterfront was jam packed with people and the atmosphere was electric. So many people were visiting for the first time and you could just see what was possible when we put on a show and offered the very best of Milford Haven!
We had a massive, fresh seafood paella on the go on our terrace and people were just stood chatting to friends, drinking, laughing and getting stuck into bowls full of our paella which was rammed with local fish and shellfish! It was magical!
Get a taster of what Martha's Vineyard is all about and check out their great Facebook video!
If you would also like to find out about the history and development of Cleddau House which is home to Martha’s Vineyard, you can read about it in our latest blog post.
Celebrating 30 years of stunning views of Milford Marina, Martha’s Vineyard is a family-run business which serves home-cooked dishes, celebrating local Pembrokeshire produce!
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