BY ANGELJEAN CHIARAMIDA
---- — SALISBURY — Closed since February, popular local restaurant Stripers Grille is about to open under new ownership, although still awaiting its liquor license to clear bureaucratic hurdles.
New owners Steve and George Haginicolas purchased Stripers from Steve Kuchar and his wife Lisa Reinhold this spring, spending months renovating and working through all the usual food service related technicalities. The renovations are done, the new glassware and china are in, staff hired and menu set. Yet, the red tape revolving around getting the restaurant’s liquor license transferred is still unwinding, Steve Haginicolas said.
Although Salisbury’s Liquor Licensing Commission OK’ed the license transfer from Kuchar to Haginicolas, the paperwork is up at the state Alcohol Beverage Control Commission winding its way through the system.
But waiting any longer to open for business is just not fair to the people who drop by every day to ask: “When are you going to open? When are you going to open?” Haginicolas said yesterday. So, at 11 a.m. Monday, July 8, Stripers will have what’s known in the restaurant business as a “soft opening,” meaning food, but no alcohol.
“We’re hoping our customers will bear with us because we don’t have our liquor license yet,” Haginicolas said. “But other than that, we’re all set to go. We have a new chef, all the staff’s been hired. We’re going to put out great food for a great value. We just can’t serve alcohol yet.
Wanting full disclosure so no one gets an unpleasant surprise, Haginicolas is getting signs to place at Stripers entrance informing patrons before they enter that alcohol isn’t available yet. But given the number of people who’ve told him they’re anxiously waiting for the restaurant to reopen so they can enjoy a meal on the deck overlooking the Merrimack River, the brothers Haginicolas are going to take the chance.
“We feel we have to try, we just don’t want people to be upset with us,” Steve Haginicolas said.
The family has 20 years experience in the restaurant business, including Roma’s, its 440-seat eatery and function room overlooking the Merrimack in Haverhill.
They spent time reworking Stripers menu, which is “heavy with seafood,” Haginicolas said, but complete with appetizers, pasta, steak, poultry and salad choices as well. The kitchen is in the hands of new chef Nick Valhouli.
“We’ve even done some low boils,” Haginicolas said. “Like our Alaskan low boil has King crab, little necks, mussels, corn and red potatoes.”
A stone’s throw from the Atlantic, the extensive menu includes staples like steamers, shrimp, oysters, chowder, as well as scallops DeSaronno, haddock, yellow fin tuna and Mediterranean Marinated Atlantic swordfish, along with lobster, prime rib, Tuscan chicken, sirloin, and the ever popular burgers.
Both brothers will spend time at Stripers, but Steve plans to be there, “Oh, 14 hours a day wouldn’t be strange,” he said.
Once the liquor license is officially transferred, the brothers plan a grand opening, perhaps about a month from now. Until then, at Stripers it’s eat now, drink later.