When Jeremy and Lisa Sewall announced that they would close the doors of their decade-old Coolidge Corner restaurant this summer, it was bittersweet — business was good, they had loads of dedicated regulars, and Lineage has really carved out a special neighborhood spot for itself over the years. But the Sewalls have a lot on their plates, from "growing family priorities" to new restaurant projects. Jeremy is also part of the Island Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34 team, which is expanding Island Creek Oyster Bar to Burlington this fall and opening a yet-unnamed restaurant in Harvard Square later this year or early next. Plus, he's working on a new book, a coffee-table ode to oysters that is slated to come out in October.
"Our 10 years were up, and we were negotiating a new lease," Jeremy told Eater last week, several days prior to Sunday's final service. "It got to a point where rents are going up in Coolidge Corner. We're incredibly busy, and I didn't see myself getting busier by much, maybe a little bit here and there. We're very fortunate; we're busy all the time. I just thought that with opening two new restaurants this year — where is the best use of my time? I felt that it was time to let go."
The decade has gone by quickly, he said. Even Lineage's opening was fast, especially by today's restaurant-opening standards. "From the day I bought the place to the day we opened was about six weeks," he said. "I remember opening with a really small menu, a ragtag crew, and just made it happen. It was kind of surreal." With the help of family members, he had speedily renovated the space, from painting and putting in new carpeting to installing new light fixtures. "I quickly realized that once you get the keys and you're paying rent, the clock's ticking; you gotta get it done."
Over the years, Lineage featured an ever-changing menu that highlighted the best of New England seafood, paying homage to Jeremy's childhood summers spent in York, Maine. There were some dishes, too, that always stuck around — the lobster tacos, the oysters (and the always-popular dollar oyster deal), the soft dinner rolls topped with a sprinkling of salt, the butterscotch pudding.
Its many regulars — not to mention the mere fact that it was open a decade — are sufficient evidence of Lineage's success, but it got plenty of accolades from the press, too. In a 2013 review in The Boston Globe, Devra First commended the "strong" seafood dishes, "gracious" service, and "excellent" cocktails. "Seven years after it opened," she wrote, "it glides along, quiet but sure." And looking all the way back to 2006, Robert Nadeau gave Lineage four stars out of four in The Phoenix, praising dishes like a "thin-crust masterpiece" pizza with potatoes and truffle oil, a "close to ultimate" crab cake, a side of grits that is a "rich, creamy wonder," and the "outstanding" desserts, including that butterscotch pudding, a "great success."
On Sunday, July 31, Lineage held its last dinner service. Several regulars were lined up outside over an hour before the 4 p.m. opening, and every seat at the bar filled up as soon as the door opened. In addition to regulars, the restaurant was also full of industry friends and alum, some dining and some helping out in the kitchen or in the front of the house. No one left without a big hug for longtime general manager Amy Audette.
"It's very bittersweet," said Jeremy a few days prior to closing. "When you're a young cook or a young chef starting in this career and you dream of opening your own place — Lineage was it. We got to do that, so I feel really, really lucky."
Note: There's one final chance to dine at Lineage tonight (Tuesday, August 2). A few seats remain for a charity event benefitting the creation of the Corky Clark Scholarship Fund, which will be awarded to eligible Culinary Institute of America (CIA) students who demonstrate leadership skills, serve their communities, and maintain a 3.0 GPA. Jeremy is collaborating with longtime friend and author Barton Seaver to host tonight's dinner in honor of Clark, a mentor to both and a retired CIA professor who taught students about seafood. Tonight's event features a five-course, seafood-focused menu. Tickets are $125 (tax and gratuity not included) and include a copy of Seaver's book, "Two if by Sea." Call Lineage at (617) 232-0065 to reserve a spot for tonight.
- Lineage Coverage on Eater [EBOS]