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East Coast Grill Will Reopen Under Highland Kitchen's Mark Romano

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The popular Inman Square restaurant closed in January

East Coast Grill before its closure
East Coast Grill before its closure

Big news, spice fans: East Coast Grill is making a comeback. Mark Romano, who owns Highland Kitchen in Somerville, has applied to take over the space and the license for the popular Inman Square restaurant that shuttered back in January after 30 years in business, according to Boston Restaurant Talk.

Romano applied to transfer the former restaurant's liquor license to his new company, Orange Blossom, Inc., keeping the name as East Coast Grill, according to licensing commission documents. The hours of operation could be within the range of 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week, with a capacity for 104 people.

East Coast Grill (1271 Cambridge St.) first opened in 1985 with Chris Schlesinger at the helm, and when he left in 2012, the restaurant came into the hands of executive chef Jason Heard, general manager Robin Greenspan, and former line cook James Lozano. The decision to close the place came as a surprise to residents and fans of East Coast's seafood, barbecue, and of course, spicy Hell Nights.

Since the closure, Jason Heard has moved onto Coppersmith, where he serves as executive chef. Additionally, East Coast Grill's original owner Chris Schlesinger is opening The Automatic with B-Side Lounge alum Dave Cagle.

Romano and his wife, Marci Joy, formed the new company behind this revival back in March.

Update, 4/15, 11 a.m.: East Coast could reopen by late July or early August, if things go according to plan, Mark Romano told Eater. He still has to secure the liquor license transfer in a city hearing next week, then the matter will go to the state.

As for the restaurant itself, Romano said he will keep the same concept, complete with "spicy, big flavors" and the live fire grill. They'll keep serving raw bar items, too, but Romano said they may remove the raw bar to extend the bar space, while expanding the drink menu with more beers on tap and a wider range of drinks. "It's still gonna be the funky place it's always been," he said.

The decision to revive the place came at a good time for Romano and his wife, Marci Joy. "I think everybody was a little bummed out that East Coast Grill closed," he said. "We were kind of looking for another place as well."

Romano, who opened up The Blue Room in 1991 with Schlesinger, also said East Coast Grill was a big part of their lives in the '90s — Joy worked at East Coast when they met.

Highland Kitchen

150 Highland Avenue, , MA 02143 (617) 625-1131 Visit Website

East Coast Grill

1271 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139 617-714-4662 Visit Website