Just under a year after closing at the end of a three-decade run in Cambridge’s Inman Square, East Coast Grill reopens its doors Monday, January 2, according to a Facebook post from Highland Kitchen in Somerville. Highland Kitchen owners and husband-and-wife duo Mark Romano and Marci Joy are behind the revival of the beloved Cambridge restaurant, which opened in 1985 at 1271 Cambridge St. and served up a seafood-focused menu with a bit of barbecue and a lot of flavor. The restaurant was especially well-known for its periodic “Hell Nights,” when the majority of the menu featured ultra-spicy dishes, and reservations would book up weeks in advance.
Founder Chris Schlesinger departed East Coast Grill in 2012, selling the restaurant to executive chef Jason Heard, general manager Robin Greenspan, and former line cook James Lozano, and they operated it until the closure in January 2015.
In April 2015, Romano announced his intention to reopen the restaurant, keeping the same concept, especially the “spicy, big flavors,” live fire grill, and raw bar. "It's still gonna be the funky place it's always been," he told Eater at the time. And the place has plenty of sentimental value for him — he helped open The Blue Room in Cambridge with Schlesinger back in 1991, so East Coast Grill was also a part of his life in the 1990s, and Joy was working there when they met.
Highland Kitchen fans will spot another familiar face at the new East Coast Grill, too — cocktail master Joe McGuirk, the longtime Highland Kitchen bar manager and B-Side Lounge alum. He’ll be serving up “boat drinks,” tiki-inspired cocktails, and more.