New owners at the Sweet Life

Hal Ryerson and his wife Erin are new owners of the Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs -Angelina Godbout

Hal Ryerson and his wife Erin are returning to the Island after purchasing Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs from their friends, Kevin and Suzanna Crowell. The Crowells own Détente Restaurant in Edgartown. 

Mr. Ryerson was a former sous-chef and chef de cuisine at Détente, and he and Mrs. Ryerson both began working there in 2010; Kevin Crowell was a groomsman in their wedding four years later.

“We’re good friends with the former owners of Sweet Life, after working with them for years at Détente,” Mrs. Ryerson wrote in an email to The Times.

The couple are originally from the Boston area, but have spent plenty of time on the Vineyard. 

“He’s [Mr. Ryerson] been coming to the Island during the summers his whole life,” Mrs. Ryerson wrote. “I started coming to Martha’s Vineyard to work for the summer after I graduated from high school in 2000, with my friend Sarah Waldman of Two Blue Lemons and Feeding a Family.”

Mr. Ryerson worked in the kitchen at the Outermost Inn for six years, meeting his wife in the summer of 2008 when she was waitressing at the Aquinnah restaurant. They spent some time in New York City, where Mrs. Ryerson earned her master’s degree in journalism from NYU and Mr. Ryerson worked at Northern Spy Food Co. in the East Village. The couple has a 16-month-old daughter, Loretta.

The new owners have both worked at Sweet Life on occasion over the years. “I was there in 2014 when President Obama and Michelle came for dinner, one of the greatest thrills of my restaurant career,” Mrs. Ryerson wrote. 

They have no plans to make changes at Sweet Life, rather they will keep the focus on fresh, local foods and New England culinary traditions. 

“Foremost, we want to maintain the great reputation that Sweet Life already has,” Mrs. Ryerson wrote. 

The couple said they are looking forward to building “a fun and unique wine list” with John Clift from Vintage MV Wine & Spirits. There are no plans for a major renovation to the restaurant, Mrs. Ryerson explained; the construction currently taking place is structural. They expect to open in early May.


This article by Marnely Murray originally appeared on