East Coast Grill will close on January 23 after a series of sendoff events, reports The Boston Globe. The boisterous Inman Square restaurant opened 30 years ago, featuring seafood and barbecue, not to mention countless pounds of insanely hot peppers, which came out to play at popular "Hell Night" events several times a year.
In mid-2012, chef/owner Chris Schlesinger departed, selling the business to executive chef Jason Heard, general manager Robin Greenspan, and former line cook James Lozano, reportedly choosing their bid instead of a higher one that could have led to the restaurant being turned into a regional chain.
The roots of the East Coast Grill family tree run deep, with Schlesinger himself having been involved with the opening of The Blue Room and All-Star Sandwich Bar in Cambridge, among other restaurants elsewhere. And a variety of notable alum passed through over the years, including Andy Husbands (Tremont 647), who is a few months away from opening his own barbecue restaurant in Kendall Square, and Chris Thompson and Kate Economides, who went on to open Blackstrap BBQ in Winthrop.
While East Coast Grill's popularity is about more than Hell Night, the semi-regular event became a defining feature of the restaurant, requiring interested parties to repeatedly try to get through on the phone line at a given date and time in order to make a reservation. Those who got in could go all out, if they dared, and try to eat the signature Pasta From Hell, which came topped with Schlesinger's signature fiery Inner Beauty Hot Sauce. (The dish was retired around the time of the ownership change, but plenty of other ultra-spicy options remained.)
Stay tuned for information about East Coast Grill's final weeks of service and events — which will surely include some form of Hell Night.
UPDATE: According to an update by the Globe, there will be a final Hell Night on January 21, and some ECG alum (including Schlesinger) will be there. Former chefs will also make appearances between now and the closure, and Heard plans to serve some classic dishes from the restaurant's long past. Heard told the Globe that last winter was rough on the business and they're "trying to get out ahead of this winter so [they] don't have anything equally devastating."
"We want everyone to know we've appreciated their support, and we want to close on a high note," he said. The building is now for sale.
UPDATE, 4/15/16: East Coast Grill will reopen under new ownership — the Highland Kitchen team.