East Coast Grill (1271 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge) has closed for real this time. This weekend’s brunch — the restaurant’s final service under the East Coast Grill name — marked the end of an era. This Friday, December 15, the beloved Inman Square restaurant will reopen as Highland Fried, a new concept from husband-and-wife duo Marci Joy and Mark Romano, who own Highland Kitchen in Somerville and the final incarnation of East Coast Grill.
East Coast Grill, which opened in 1985 and came under new ownership in 2012, initially shuttered in January 2016 before Joy and Romano swooped in to revive the fabled restaurant as the third ownership team. The restaurant — famous for its “Hell Night,” during which the menu would consist chiefly of hyper-spicy dishes — reopened in January 2017.
Highland Fried will focus on fried chicken, biscuits, barbecue, and tiki drinks, Romano told Eater. There won’t be any major changes to the space’s interior, but the restaurant’s back lounge will feature a pool table, a juke box, and a selection of other games.
Romano told Eater this was always his and Joy’s idea for their next spot.
“We wanted to do an offshoot of the Highland Kitchen and focus on fried chicken but also have a full bar,” said Romano. “But when East Coast Grill came up for sale, we jumped at it. We went into with our hearts and minds. But, you know, they tell you never to bet on your hometown team. Bet with your head, not your heart. It’s been good, but not good enough. So we decided to do the thing we wanted to do from the beginning.”
Highland Fried plans to serve lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It’ll also offer brunch on Sundays. Patrons will be able to get boxes (and eventually buckets) of fried chicken to go.
R.I.P. East Coast Grill; welcome to the neighborhood, Highland Fried.