AMESBURY — On the Local Pulse internet radio broadcast Saturday, restaurateur Sean Toomey discussed his latest venture, Sky Hi Kitchen and Bar, and its unusual beginning.
The restaurant at 37 Main St. was previously the second location of Trina’s Starlite Lounge, but the owners were involved in other projects and wanted to pass it on to someone else.
Owners Beau Sturm, Josh Childs and executive chef Suzi Maitland just celebrated the lounge’s 10th anniversary at its original location in Somerville. The team also operates Parlor Sports in Somerville, Boston Audubon and The Paddle Inn in Newburyport.
They officially transferred ownership of the Amesbury restaurant to Toomey and his partners Eric Anderson and J. Grimaldi on Sept. 6.
“It’s kind of rare what we did,” Toomey told Local Pulse host Joe DiBiase.
“Everyone was really committed to never closing the doors,” he said. “It’s really difficult for the staff. What is the staff going to do for a month if we close, rebrand, redo the menus, redo the computers, redo the art?”
“We didn’t want the staff to miss a single day of work,” Toomey continued. “So, we did a really weird rebrand on the fly. We had two days where we didn’t even have a name.”
“So, it closed the door one day as Trina’s Starlite Lounge and opened the next day as a no-name restaurant, which would become Sky Hi?” DiBiase said.
“People were really confused,” Toomey said, adding that it has been a gradual process.
Over the past several weeks, the new restaurant has adjusted the menu and is working to change the decor. Toomey said the new concept seeks to target “the under 40 crowd” with more vegan options and dishes under $22.
Toomey also runs Crave, a neighborhood bistro restaurant and bar in Amesbury that has been in operation for six years. He believes Crave tends to be more favorable for “the over 40 crowd.”
He previously owned Vasa Waterfront Kitchen and Bar in Salisbury, which closed abruptly in October 2018.
Local Pulse airs from the newsroom of The Daily News on Liberty Street. To listen go to www.newburyportnews.com/LocalPulse and to download previous shows at any time.