New Bedford Pope’s Island Has Been Home to Many Restaurants
When it comes to bridge-side dining on Pope’s Island, many think of Fathoms and its famous outdoor deck view of the New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge.
However, back in the days when the Fathoms building was still the original WBSM studios, there was another restaurant a little further east on Pope’s Island in a spot that hosted a number of dining ventures over the decades.
Originally, the Bridge Diner was on that spot for many years. At one time, it was known as Naps on the Bridge after then-owner Napoleon Katsoules.
As seen in the postcard photo, it consisted of a diner and a larger building connected together to offer traditional diner fare as well as seafood options.
Online information suggests that the Bridge Diner was demolished “around 1969.”
In 1975, developer Michael Panagakos was a young entrepreneur looking to move out of the fast-food industry and into a sit-down family restaurant. He bought the property and opened Myrtle’s Turtle on the site that used to house the Bridge Diner. It was a pub-style restaurant similar to The Ground Round, and in fact, The Ground Round – a division of Howard Johnson’s – ended up purchasing the restaurant and leasing the land from Panagakos.
Howard Johnson’s restaurant division was later bought out by Marriott, who closed The Ground Round division and subleased the Pope’s Island location to The Bag Piper. a restaurant that, by some accounts, featured actual bagpipers performing while people ate their dinner (no word on if haggis was on the menu).
Panagakos then leased the spot to Lonnie Liang, who opened Tofu Restaurant around 1991. At the end of that lease in 2001, Panagakos redeveloped the site to feature the Dunkin’ that is there now.
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