HARWICH, Mass. – The lobster rolls are to die for, you’ll want to get fresh-caught lobster slathered in mayo or melted butter, and you’ll want to order seconds of the crab cakes.
One of the restaurant owners loved lobster so much that he ate it by the spoonful at the end of the night.
“That was a no-profit summer,” he says with a laugh. ‘Chicken is cheaper than lobster,’ my chef quickly told me.
Between the tuna tartare, tuna poke nachos and tuna entrée, there’s a steady supply of tuna from the harbor a few blocks away from behind the house. The scallop risotto will make your mouth water. A whole rack of baby back ribs is smoked in the back. The wagyu burger is bold. The filet is perfectly prepared, and the best seller on this amazing appetizer menu is the pistachio halibut.
“Even if we change chefs, ‘You have to keep it. “Without our pistachio halibut, we’d have a blackout in the dining room,'” the co-owner of The Port — a steak and seafood staple in Harwich Harbor’s Cape Cod community for 20 seasons — over a bottle of Caymus and, perhaps, a glass or two of nicely chilled Sauvignon Blanc. Before letting out a smile.
But if I had to have only one dish, I would have the Portuguese stew.
That’s halibut, clams, mussels and sausage with potatoes and tomatoes swimming in fish sauce. The dining room was filled with people in absolute heaven enjoying this explosion of ingredients.
At the edge of the dining room, the bar is full. Mixologists, including co-owner’s nephew Hunter, have released hits such as Cufflinks, Fear and Loathing, Witch Doctor, Yes Please!, I’m with the Band and the Green Monstah Rum Runner.
At the beginning of each season, the staff gathers to prepare new drinks and rewrite the cocktail menu. So it’s always changing, but season after season, margaritas and frozen drinks are constantly coming out of the mixers like a tsunami, especially mud slides, full candy bars.
Adjacent to the dining room, the spacious patio on this beautiful Cape Cod evening is packed to see a singer with an acoustic guitar perform a cover. The raw bar in another hidden node is also filled to the brim. The port does $1 oysters for two hours a day… every day. Between the raw bar and Oysters Rockefeller, at one point, the restaurant goes through 80,000 oysters. The staff even makes an annual field trip to nearby Chatham, where they see how the entire process works – from growing oysters from tiny eggs to when they are closed in the yard – so every aspect is taken care of for the customer.
Outside the restaurant, tucked away among antique stores, art galleries, gift shops, coffee shops and other restaurants and bars, firefighters are collecting boots. And the sidewalks of Harwich Harbor are filled with refreshing breezes coming down from Nantucket Sound.
That’s because it’s a Wednesday night, which means it’s the weekly summer music tour where half a dozen bands entertain the streets and down town.
Amidst the set, a steady stream of hungry and thirsty locals and tourists head to the harbor – a bright, white and blue restaurant that has the Cape Cod vibe down to a T.
When you walk in, you’re greeted with fun signs that say, “Warning, drinking alcohol will make you think you’re smart, handsome, and strong” and quotes from the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Frank Sinatra. . But no hockey notes.
No stick, no puck, no picture of New England royalty Bobby Orr soaring through the air, no Wild or Canucks jerseys framed under glass.
However, the co-owner of this quaint New England restaurant currently sits in a booth overlooking the dining room just like NHL Draft table Judd Brackett.
Two weeks ago in Montreal, Brackett, 45, the Beast’s director of amateur scouting, was compiling the team’s draft picks.
But no one seems to know that in his hometown and two miles from his home in The Harbour, the man responsible for branding this restaurant has played a major role in adding eight more players to the barren wild pool at once. All of a sudden he’s considered the best in the NHL.
“I keep a very low profile,” said Brackett, who joined the Wild in July 2020 after 12 years — five as a top amateur scout — working for the Canucks. “I’m much happier coming in here to be Jude from Harwich than the wild Jude Brackett from Minnesota.”
This week, when the 2022 World Junior Championships resume in Alberta, the wild will have eight participants – Americans Brock Faber and Jack Peart, Canadians Carson Lambos and Ryan Aurier, Sweden’s Jesper Wollstedt and Liam Ogren, Czech David Speck and Slovakia’s Servak Petrovský. In reality, the Wildcats could have had 12 participants: Canada’s Damon Hunt was injured shortly before the race, Czech Republic’s Pavel Novak was taking time off to focus on his cancer fight, and Russia was disqualified due to its invasion of Ukraine. Marat Kusunudinov and Danila Yurov will not be able to play.
Brackett drafted 11 of these players; Faber recently came to the Wild from the LA Kings in the Kevin Fiala trade.
In early July, during Brackett’s third draft in two years for the Wildcats, Brackett got to announce one of the team’s first-round picks for the first time in his career.
Jared Brackett, Judd’s older brother, who lives upstairs from the restaurant he’s with, made sure every TV in the port had to be fixed in the draft. Staff and clients go bananas At No. 24, Brackett Jr. announces that the Wild will select skilled, sharp-shooting Russian forward Yurov — the fourth first-round pick Brackett and the staff have added to the Wild organization in one area. Calendar year.
“I was lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes look at Judd’s draft preparation,” Jared said. “I have an idea of what’s going on, and it’s unbelievable how many seven players we go into the office and watch video and he brings four of them. I mean, obviously things have to fall apart and fall apart, but I’m telling you, there were two players on the whiteboard that came together in the first round.
We’ll see what Eurov becomes in the future, but if he’s a stud, history shows that Brackett executed some masterful strategy on the draft floor. Within minutes, as seen in the video above, Brackett and his crew workshopped the exact scenario where Dur could go with Ogren and Yurov in issues 19 and 24.
Brackett and Durr wanted both players, but Yurov placed them slightly ahead of Ohgren on their list. Although it was out of order for the Wildcats, Brackett was convinced that there was a better chance of landing both players if they took the Ogre at No. 19 than Eurove.
Sure enough, Yurov got down to 24 and Wild got both.
Nice one-time finish from Danila Yurov with a curled punch from #mnwild pic.twitter.com/bOJcxWrjQL
— Spoke Z (@SpokedZ) August 4, 2022
“We felt it was close enough that we could live with it if we swung and lost,” Brackett said.
Jared Brackett, 48, is proud of what his brother has become.
“I’m his big guy,” Jared says. “He has a full plate. It’s unbelievable what goes on from day to day. I mean, scouting, he’s on the road Tuesday through Sunday. He has four children, two restaurants and two full-time jobs. I don’t know how he does it.”
Yes, Brackett Bros actually has two restaurants.
The Harbor is open seasonally from April until after Halloween, and Ember Coal Fire Pizza & Wings is year-round and a third of a mile away. Jude’s wife, Lucy, who opened that restaurant 13 years ago, was upset.
“She was shocked,” Judd says. “There were nine restaurants in 10 years.”
The Bracketts employ more than 100 employees between the two locations, and it has become a family affair.
Jared Brackett’s 21-year-old son, Hunter, is a sophomore hockey player at St. Anselm College and hosts the bar, Judd’s 14-year-old daughter, Siena, is a waitress and his 13-year-old son, Pierce, was the runner-up in last month’s wild draft table, the Buses tables. It’s only a matter of time before 11-year-old Deacon and 3-year-old Rhett begin their careers at The Port.
“Well, Rhett’s a little longer than Deacon,” Judd says.
But that’s how Jared and Jude liked the restaurant game.
As a child, his parents, Marna and Bob, owned a seafood restaurant overlooking the harbor called Brax’s Landing. The brothers manned tables until the wee hours of the night, sorting beer bottles for recycling.
Jared and Jude opened the port in 2004 in a former clothing store building around the same time their parents sold that restaurant. Before renewing the brackets, they took it to the poles. At first, business was heavy, and the restaurant had a darker bistro vibe with orange and yellow sponge walls. But over the past 20 seasons, the Bracketts have bought the surrounding property and expanded the restaurant, adding multiple dining rooms, bars, entertainment areas, a large outdoor park with lawn games and a raw bar.
Before opening the portal, Brackett was a goaltender who played prep hockey in Massachusetts and collegiately at Northeastern University and Connecticut College. Jared was playing hockey in Spain, a former prep star who played at Babson College and then in the minors, living in South Florida. When Jude was done playing, they exchanged daily emails with restaurant ideas.
When they first opened the restaurant, the Bracketts only served dinner, but they opened at 10 p.m. They have a hand in everything: setting tables, checking orders, making reservations, serving tables, cleaning after hours.
Jude’s wife, Lucy, ran the bar.
“We’ve always been here,” Judd said. But now we have enough systems in place to go to Europe or Western Canada or wherever and do my other job,” he said. “And my brother took a lot of the burden off me. Your popularity at a restaurant can be just like the draft pick. You look around, maybe nine out of 10 restaurants.
“So I like the challenge.”
Each individual who was critical to a team’s success had a different path to the NHL.
Some were hockey stars who made their way into player development and management and the next thing you know they’re making the show…like Wild GM Bill Guerin.
Brackett’s rise to become one of the sport’s most respected head scouts was not such a straight line.
His father, Bob, He was a forward at St. Lawrence University in the 1960s and went on to coach at Harwich High School. He is in the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame as a coach.
Before playing at Gearyosh, Judd was a goaltender for Phillips Academy-Andover and coached Geary’s old NEJHL team under Gary Dean for the Springfield Olympics for one year.
After Brackett’s playing days, he returned to Harwich to scout restaurant locations with his brother. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became an assistant coach at Harwich High. But while Brackett enjoyed coaching, he quickly learned that he liked being at the top of the stage even better. He likes to watch and evaluate players, and as a former goalkeeper, it somehow happened.
“I’ve always enjoyed evaluating players and trying to do it quickly,” Brackett says.
Brackett got a job analyzing players for McCain’s hockey magazine on the local prep school circuit. He did that for a couple of years but kept knocking on doors, trying to work for a team. He got a chance as a scout with Gatineau in the Quebec League. While there, the team won the 2008 President’s Cup and Brackett used his relationships with college coaches to try to find players. He was facing the club; He wanted to identify the right players, not hire someone to go into a family salon and sell them on Gatineau, but a way for them.
He then got a job as head scout and vice president of player personnel for the Indiana Ice in the USHL. While there, Snow won two Clark Trophies.
Former Canucks GM Mike Gillis In 2008, he hired Brackett as a scout when he expanded Vancouver’s scouting staff. Brackett spent seven years as an amateur scout, starting eyeball with four different age groups as a New England-based scout before becoming the director of amateur scouting from 2015-20.
In the year His first draft as superintendent in 2016 was a bit of a mess because many people on staff were working on draft lists and answering various votes. They had to take a defenseman and two of the most popular big names Brackett wanted didn’t even make the cut on their draft list. The Canucks drafted Olli Juolevi fifth overall.
After the draft, Brackett fought for autonomy, but it was always a difficult situation.
Brackett replaced Ron Delorme, but he remained on staff and the rest of Delorme’s people. So Brackett was promoted from within, the boss got demoted and now suddenly the boss was still there and all the bosses friends were there.
In the year In 2017, the Canucks drafted Elias Peterson fifth overall. In the year They took Quinn Hughes seventh overall in 2018. In 2019, they took Vasily Podkolzin 10th overall.
In the year In 2019-20, entering the final year of his contract, Brackett decided to decline a contract extension in the fall. It is clear that there were philosophical differences and disagreements between then-GM Benning and Brackett about how to run the scouting department.
Brackett has fully worked out the final year of his contract with the intention of becoming a free agent when his contract expires on July 1.
In late May, the Canucks officially announced that the two sides would be parting ways. But he was not allowed to talk to any team for a month until the contract was completed.
All Guerin knew about Brackett was six years younger than Brackett, who played for the same junior varsity team in Springfield and knew many of the same people. He was receiving calls from people in the game supporting Brackett, including Canucks legend Trevor Linden. Nine days after Brackett was able to talk to 31 other teams about the job, Guerin replaced P.J. Fenton as the director of amateur scouting for Brackett.
In the two years and three drafts since, Brackett and his revamped staff have added 20 players, including five first-round picks (Marco Rossi, Wollstadt, Lambos, Ohgren and Yurov) and five second-round picks (Khusnutdinov, O’Rourke). Perth, Hunter Haight and Rieger Lorenz).
And Guerin gave Brackett autonomy over personnel and player selection.
“I don’t want to talk about what I heard happened or anything like that,” Guerin said. “The way I run things, I say everything on the amateur side is Jude’s responsibility. We want it to work at a high level. So, he’s Jude’s employee, and he needs to put people in place that he feels will get the most out of him. He’s working with them every day, so he brings the staff together, and I listen to him – not the other way around.
Guerin allowed Brackett to bring in longtime right-hander Dan Palango as a crossover scout. That means that while he’s based in Ontario, Palango travels all over the place – the US, across Canada and Europe. He has no boundaries, he’s worked with Brackett for 13 years and they talk every day. They added JP Perpich, Matt Carle, Eric Godard and Pat Baum as scouts to a strong staff that already included Brian Hunter, Chris Hammel and European scouting director Rikard Persson.
“We have a young scouting staff, an enthusiastic scouting staff that works hard and communicates well,” Brackett said. “It’s different than it’s been in the past, but everyone’s been embracing it and I think we’re really only going to get better.”
Guerin’s autonomy is for Brackett the same as choosing the players for choosing the staff.
“Hey, look, even if … I go out five times and see a draft-eligible guy, it’s still nowhere near what Judd and his staff saw,” Guerin says. “So I just trust those people. I have my input. I give my opinion on some things. But ultimately I’m listening to Jude.”
That, ironically, is how the Bracketts run their restaurant.
Just like bartenders write a cocktail menu, Brackets gives bartenders total creative freedom. They don’t interfere (except for that pistachio halibut thing).
“I mean, they’re trained, they’ve gone to school for that, they’re the experts,” Judd said.
The bracket has become one of the most important items in the wild.
It’s well publicized now, but with the Wild’s decision to acquire Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last summer, they have another $47.2 million in salary cap space over the next six years, including $42.2 million over the next three.
This means the wild draft is critical and developing well and using players with reasonable entry-level contracts.
For example, Fiala was traded this offseason because the Wild couldn’t afford him and they believed the 20-year-old Rossi, drafted ninth overall in 2020, would have a golden opportunity to make the club this offseason.
The Wild’s prospect pool was ranked first or second by every publication this summer.
“It was a priority for us,” says Guerin. “The next two years will be crucial. I think we will find a time in the future where we will be able to manage our assets in a different way. But we are not there yet.
Last summer, the Wild drafted a “goalie of the future” in Wallstate. They have plenty of blue line talent, but outside of Kalen Addison, they’ve been short on right shooting guards. So this summer they bought Faber and drafted Healy, a player Brackett knows well because he’s from Hull, Mass.
And up front, Brackett and his staff have drafted top-tier guys like Kusunudinov, Ogren, Yurov and Hight, who looks to be rightfully sought after and a member of Canada’s 2023 World Junior team.
What Gerry means by “managing our assets differently” is that all these promises cannot be played for wild. At some point, the Wild would be more willing to trade picks and prospects, but now Brackett is tasked with finding value in those picks and he’s doing just that.
“We touched a little bit of everything,” Brackett says. We’ve talked about depth on the blue line, but we feel like we have 1 goaltender there as well. This year, we brought in two forwards (in Ogren and Yurov) who both play with some weight and skill and power, and then Hunter Hight, who really set our team apart earlier this year.
“We’re starting to think we’re not going to see him at any stage during the year and we’re really excited about him. But the more we saw, the more we believed in him.
Guerin says one of the reasons he believes in Brackett is because he “doesn’t think too much.”
“They put so much work into it that when we get to the table, it’s kind of on autopilot,” Guerin said. “There is no guesswork. Everything is calm. Everything is in order. We are ready for any kind of zigzag or whatever we have to do.
So as the summer progresses, Brackett continues to juggle two restaurants, his large family, and his wild draft machine every day.
“I don’t go into this with an end goal,” Brackett says. “I started scouting because of the love of the game. And I’m never afraid to speak my mind. Maybe when there is a restaurant. The restaurant business is a scary place to make a living at times, so I wasn’t going to sit on the fence just to keep checking. At the end of the day, I want our employees to do it right. And to do it sincerely.
“But this is just the beginning. Our staff wants to play our part in bringing the Stanley Cup to Minnesota one day.”
And if that happens, there’s going to be one heckuva party at Harwich Harbour.
That’s a cup about to be filled to the brim with lobster rolls.
“I’m a butter person,” Brackett smiles.
And he eats it with his spoon.
(Top photo: Michael Russo / The Athletic)