The end of summer on an island marks many changes. Autumn winds pick up as streets empty and houses close up for winter. Children head back to school as ferry trips become a bit more spacious. This year on Cliff Island, residents can also mark the transition to fall with the sale of the island’s only store. Marianne Annis became the proprietor of the Beachead on Sept. 2, and changed its name to Caf’ Cliff.

Originally known as Cobb’s Store, the shop has operated for generations on the island. The previous owner, Libra Cusack, operated the store and its accompanying sandwich shop for five years. In a letter to the community, Libra wrote “I want to say that I appreciate those of you who treated me with kindness and respect. Running the Beachead and then the grocery addition was very stressful during the summer months. It is a 24/7 operation for a sole proprietor, at its peak operation, and many of you realized and appreciated that.”

In its new form, Caf’ Cliff is intended to handle the seasonal needs of the community. In the summer a sandwich shop will open adjacent to the store. Ice cream, snacks, penny candy, soups and stews will be available. There are plans for barbecue dinners that will coincide with evening activities on the island.

The store will shift its focus during the winter, as the reduced island population has different needs during the colder months. Marianne Annis explains, “This winter, we will naturally have groceries, but the store is also a place for people to come to relax and hang out, play cards and socialize. People like a change of scenery.” Presently, the store sells groceries and snacks, with sandwiches made to order. Eventually, soups and stews will be sold “to go” as well.

With a cozy sitting area and a game table, Caf’ Cliff already creates a comfortable space for socializing. One recent morning found a group of residents chatting over coffee and cinnamon buns. “It’s hoped it will be an old-time island gathering place,” said one local. “It’s a convenience, and it’s nice to have.”

Dale Dyer, a year-round resident, explained why the store is important to the island culture. “A store is part of our community, part of our identity. Like the island post office, the store serves more than one purpose. People come not just to get mail or groceries, but also to socialize. If we lose these parts of our community, we lose part of our identity.”

For now, it appears, Cliff Island is in no danger of losing its identity. Caf’ Cliff will be open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10:00 AM – 1 PM, and 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM.