He’s been at it for 22 years. Now a Fairhaven restaurateur is ready to pursue another dream

This longtime owner of Fairhaven restaurant is selling his business to fulfill a dream

Don White, owner of Skylark's, talks about his decision to sell the business to fulfill his dream of living in New York City on Thursday, Feb. 15, in Bellingham.
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Don White, owner of Skylark's, talks about his decision to sell the business to fulfill his dream of living in New York City on Thursday, Feb. 15, in Bellingham.

After 22 years as a restaurateur in Fairhaven, Don White is ready to pursue another dream.

White recently put Skylark’s Hidden Cafe up for sale with the intention of moving to New York City. With the recent death of his father, White came to realization that it was time for him to pursue something that he’s always wanted to do. He believes the restaurant is in a good place and he’s ready to try something new.

“I’m at a stage where Skylark’s is a mature business,” said White, 54. “All my life I’ve dreamt about living in New York City. If I don’t do it now, I may not get another chance.”

Skylark’s actually got its start in 1995 as a ice cream and gift shop in the Sycamore Square building. White was helping a friend set up the business. A year later White took over ownership and moved the business into a corner spot away from the main streets, hence earning the “hidden cafe” moniker. At that time, White said there was a need for a restaurant in Fairhaven that offered a comfortable family atmosphere.

In 2008 he tripled the cafe’s size at 1308 11th St., becoming less hidden. White also expanded the menu to breakfast, lunch and dinner and brought in other features, including live music events.

A major expansion came at a challenging time, given the recession that followed. During that time he created a Budget Bailout menu, offering discounts at different times of the day that kept customers coming back. Sales continued to climb and White said this is the best year yet in sales. The restaurant has 38 employees.

White has also been blessed with good health. He said he’s never taken a sick day at the restaurant, and rarely takes a day off. Asked why he’s been rarely away from Skylark’s, he said the feeling he’s had about the restaurant is much like a hobby, comparable to someone building a boat in the garage.

“If you have a hobby like that,” White said, referring to the boat in the garage. “You’d want to spend every day in there.”

Once he sells the business White said he’ll miss the regulars that now span several generations.

Skylarks 1
Don White, owner of Skylark’s Hidden Cafe, makes raspberry-infused chocolate mousse on Thursday, Feb. 15, in Bellingham. White plans to sell the restaurant and move to New York City. Evan Abell eabell@bhamherald.com

Customers will also miss White. Attorney Seth Fleetwood, a former Bellingham city and county council member, has probably eaten more bowls of clam chowder at Skylark’s than anyone else. He estimates he’s had about two bowls a week at the restaurant for around 20 years.

“Skylark’s has been a staple in Fairhaven since the beginning of the Fairhaven comeback,” Fleetwood said, referring to the transformation that started in the 1990s. “Don has been reliably committed to the betterment of Fairhaven from the moment he got here.”

The sale price for the business is listed at $295,000. Details can be found on its Facebook page or by calling 360-715-3642.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz