Restaurateurs with Beverly, Ipswich eateries expanding north

AMANDA SAGBA / Staff PhotoThe owners of the En Fuego Cocina Mexicana restaurants in Beverly and Ipswich will open a new restaurant in Salisbury at this former Vasa Waterfront Kitchen spot. The business partners already have seven restaurants on the North Shore, Cape Ann and New Hampshire.

SALISBURY — The owners of the En Fuego Cocina Mexicana restaurants in Beverly and Ipswich are about to open a new restaurant in Salisbury, at the site of the former Vasa Waterfront Kitchen & Bar on Bridge Road.

Brothers Ryan Cox and Brad Atkinson and their cousin and business partner Noah Goldstein have entered into a three-year lease with the property owner 175 Bridge Road LLC, and said they hope to open the doors of their new “value-priced” seafood restaurant by May 1.

“We are not in this for a quick buck in any sense,” Atkinson said. “That is the opposite of what we are doing. We want to be there for the rest of our lives. This is what we love to do, it is our passion and we want to be the place for every local person to go.”

In addition to the En Fuego restaurants on Rantoul Street in Beverly and on High Street in Ipswich, the partners own The Lobster Pool in Rockport; The Farm Bar & Grille in Essex, Dover, New Hampshire and Manchester, New Hampshire; and The 401 Tavern in Hampton, New Hampshire, which they purchased recently..

Atkinson said he and his partners intend to name their new Salisbury restaurant The Portside.

“There is some historical significance in that,” Atkinson said. “That place used to be the Portside Sports Bar before it was Stripers. So we will be calling it ‘The Portside something’ but we are not sure.”

He hopes to bring back “some of the old traditions” the Portside Sports Bar used to offer, he said, such as a salad bar and a Sunday brunch with a Bloody Mary bar.

“We are really trying to keep it from being upscale,” he said. “We want it to be for the people. We want it to be for the locals who come year-round. And we want it to be reasonable.”

The property’s former tenant, Sean Toomey, opened Vasa Waterfront Kitchen & Bar in September 2016 but closed suddenly last October.

Atkinson and Cox said they plan to introduce themselves to the Board of Selectmen on Monday and are excited about their new project.

“About 65 percent of the menu will be seafood,” Cox said. “We want to bring seafood back to the everyday man.”

Going out for seafood has become an expensive proposition for many, Atkinson noted.

“We will have eat-in-the-rough pricing with amazing quality and portions,” he said. “We want you to go and say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I just went to this restaurant and paid that amount.’”

The property offers a scenic view of downtown Newburyport and its waterfront, but very little parking. 

“We also leased a parking lot just up the road and should be able to park everyone there,” Atkinson said. “So we are excited to give that a try.”

Cox said he’s looking forward to becoming a part of the “Salisbury scene.”

“We know that Newburyport is really busy and they are doing a great thing over there, but Salisbury has great opportunities, too,” he said.

The co-owner of 175 Bridge Road LLC, Mark Wojcicki, said he is happy to welcome the new Portside.

“I look forward to having them come in and get the place hopping again,” Wojcicki said. “I think it will be a great opportunity.”