Billionaires Charles Johnson And Charles Schwab Are Feuding Over A Nantucket Clam Shack


Billionaires can have disagreements with one another just like anyone else. Take Charles Johnson, owner of the San Francisco Giants, and Charles Schwab of the investment firm of the same name. They both own property on the island of Nantucket, and now they are both reportedly on opposite sides of a dispute involving a Straight Wharf Fish Market location on the island.

Johnson has turned to the courts to block the opening of the Straight Wharf restaurant because he has what the Daily Mail describes as a “simple shack” of his own (a 1,200-square-foot home that happens to be valued at $6.5 million) right next door. In his lawsuit filed to block the opening, he cited concerns over noise and foot traffic congestion. He and his attorney Danielle deBenedictis are appealing to the area’s Select Board to revoke the restaurant’s liquor license, already granted months ago. She initially claimed to be representing Johnson’s fellow billionaire Nantucket resident Schwab in trying to block the opening, prompting Schwab to release a statement that this was not the case, and that he actually supported the restaurant.

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Here’s part of that statement, filed by Schwab’s attorney Steve Cohen:

“[T]he Schwabs and many neighbors at Old North Wharf were originally concerned when told that the Straight Wharf Fish Market would be a nightclub with a bar, dancing, and live music…We all look forward to enjoying a fresh clam roll and cold soft-serve twist cone on the harbor.”

That strongly worded show of support from a heavy hitter like Schwab reportedly came as a pleasant surprise to Gabriel Frasca, one of the owners of the Straight Wharf franchise. He tells that the lawsuit might delay the scheduled opening in July, and he’s not sure whether his team has the financial resources to win this legal battle:

“We aren’t well-heeled enough that if we’re told we have to stop until we do something, that we can just withstand that blow. We’re already putting a ton of money into this, and to go in deeper, probably would not make sense.”

But Sarah Alger, an attorney representing the area’s Old North Wharf Cooperative which she says largely opposes the opening of the restaurant, takes issue with the way the story is being characterized, telling the Boston Globe:

“I know there’s been kind of an effort to make this into kind of a David and Goliath story. I don’t really see that as being all that accurate. You know, this whole folksy clam shack thing. It isn’t a clam shack. It’s a restaurant.”

Whatever you call it, there are at least two Nantucket billionaires gathering resources to battle over the Nantucket Straight Wharf Fish Market’s upcoming opening, and only time can tell who will emerge the victor.

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