Black Dog Catalog

Black Dog Catalog

Founded by Bob Douglas — an ex-fighter pilot turned windjammer captain — the Black Dog Tavern embodied the eclectic spirit of Martha’s Vineyard in the 1970s. It became a place where day tourists and summer people mingled with year-rounders, and waterfront workers nodded greetings to doctors and bank presidents. Cooks and servers — mostly young, all casually dressed — dispensed dishes with whimsical names that put a modern culinary spin on traditional New England cuisine.

The Black Dog logo, modeled after Capt. Douglas’s own black Labrador, appeared first on colored t-shirts that passed for a staff “uniform.” As employees passed on spare shirts to their friends, they became a sought-after souvenir of a summer on the Island. Recognizing an opportunity, the Black Dog began producing branded t-shirts to sell directly to the public. The company’s line of branded goods expanded steadily from there: sweatshirts, hats, tote bags, dog bowls, coffee mugs, and cookbooks reprinting recipes for the restaurant’s now-iconic dishes.

The Black Dog shirts were originally produced by a local screen-printing artist, and the earliest Black Dog mail order catalogs (like the 1995 edition shown here) were created by the Island-based design firm of Kolodny & Rentschler. The Black Dog brand has now grown well beyond its Island roots (some visitors are now startled to learn that the restaurant not only exists, but pre-dates the clothing empire), and other companies have tried — with varying success — to establish their own Vineyard-themed brands. The Black Dog remains in a class by itself, however, because of its unique ties to Island history.


Artist Manufactured by The Black Dog Tavern Company
Title Black Dog Catalog
Date 1995
Type Advertisement
Credit Gift of Carol Kolodny
Ref No 2013.029
Thematic Collection 100 Years, 100 Stories: Turning a Profit
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