Rip Tide Lounge’s facelift aims to balance past and present

The historic Rip Tide Lounge, a longtime Marblehead dive, is set for a soft reopening around Thanksgiving following major renovations, the new owners said in an impromptu interview Thursday.

The Rip Tide Lounge’s new owners plan to restore the Pleasant Street bar’s early 1900s facade as shown in this architect’s rendering. COURTESY PHOTO

Todd Durham and Patrick Vienneau, whose nephew Mikael Vienneau and a silent partner acquired the building in the spring, are working to restore the bar’s original early 20th-century facade and interior. They also plan to modernize the menu and amenities. The building, constructed in 1908, was originally a Ford Model T dealership. It later became one of the first bars in the area to be granted a liquor license after Prohibition.

“Our goal is to restore the facade to its 1908 or 1910 appearance. It’s going to be virtually identical,” Durham said.

Patrick Vienneau said the new owners hired Salem architect Peter Pitman, who has researched the building’s original exterior design, which will feature historical logos and frosted windows to let in natural light Inside. Workers have removed old carpets and furniture to repair structural beams and deteriorated woodwork.

The revamped menu will include expanded food options, such as $10 burgers, but aims to remain affordable. A local chef is in the process of developing a full menu — and a draft menu could recently be seen floating around social media.

Patrick Vienneau sits at the historic bar in the Rip Tide Lounge during ongoing renovations on Aug. 24. CURRENT PHOTO / WILLIAM J. DOWD

Updates to comply with building codes and accessibility requirements are also underway. These include new bathrooms, lighting, roofing and rear access. However, the historic wooden bar and walls will be preserved.

George Ciampa ran the beloved dive bar at 116 Pleasant St. for 55 years after acquiring it in 1968. But he decided to sell, putting the bar on the real estate market in January.

The former owners hosted a final celebration this summer to bid farewell to regular patrons. Ciampa’s daughter-in-law, Jamie Ciampa, described the event as “epic,” adding that the bar sold out of alcohol for the first time in her memory.

When asked if die-hard patrons will embrace the changes, Patrick Vienneau said, “Time will tell.”

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