Thirteen months in the making, Vineyard Haven’s newest restaurant Copper Wok opens for business this week after a successful weekend of preview parties. The restaurant is located in the Mansion House Inn and will serve up a menu of Pan-Asian fare, offering everything from sushi to spare ribs.
On Saturday evening a crowd of people gathered in the Mansion House lobby waiting for the large burnished door to open for the 6 p.m. seating — yes, the door is lined with a sheet of copper. Restaurateur J.B. Blau opened the door to cheers, and hungry customers made their way in for dinner.
Mr. Blau and business partner Alex Nagi first announced the venture in February of last year. Mr. Blau also owns Sharky’s Cantina in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs. Mr. Blau and Mr. Nagi are partners at the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company in Oak Bluffs.
The Copper Wok is their first restaurant in Vineyard Haven.
“We felt the Island needed another choice,” Mr. Blau said on Saturday evening, sitting down for a break in between two of the day’s parties. The restaurant’s first dinner service will be on Wednesday night, but last weekend featured seven grand opening events. All proceeds from the parties went to the Boys & Girls Club. As of Saturday night $8,300 had been raised.
Mr. Blau said he and Mr. Nagi had “always known this was going happen.” The pair began planning a new Asian restaurant three years ago. The idea to start another Asian restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard came from overhearing conversations about people ordering Chinese delivery from Falmouth.
“We thought, let’s just do it here,” Mr. Blau said.
Saturday’s events drew about 400 people to the restaurant throughout the day. The Sunday seatings had about 500 spaces reserved, Mr. Blau said.
Inside the Copper Wok, diners had no shortage of seating options. There were tall chairs at the bar, a curved island at the center of the restaurant, tables near the window looking onto Main street, and two walls of cushioned booths. Naomi Paulson and a group of friends took a seat at the window and dived into a sampler course of veggie egg rolls, carefully plated on white porcelain. A Mylar balloon tied to a chair announced a birthday — Ms. Paulson’s 30th.
“As soon as we saw it was opening on the 8th, we said, oh, perfect,” Ms. Paulson said.
Friends Tanya Taylor and her husband Bryan said they’re regulars at the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company.
“We got recognized at the door,” Mrs. Taylor said.
Grace and Albie Robinson of Oak Bluffs sat at the end of the curved island, dubbed the community table, in the center of the restaurant. Bowls of wontons sat atop the table. The Robinsons had just finished up a chicken satay dish, and deemed everything, particularly the beef tenders, delicious. The ambience of the restaurant was different from anything on the Island, they said.
“You look in and it’s like you’re somewhere else,” Mrs. Robinson said.
Warm orange lights glowed throughout the room, which features a wood-paneled ceiling and polished dark wood flooring. The kitchen, which previously opened to the dining area, is closed off now, and the counter area has been transformed into a dual beer and wine, and sushi bar. Copper Wok is working on a line of sake-based cocktails.
Work began on renovations of the space formerly occupied by Zephrus shortly after Mr. Blau and Mr. Nagi announced the project, but the opening date, originally planned for last April, was delayed due to the extent of the renovation work.
“As you grow and are more invested in the community there’s more pressure to do it right,” Mr. Blau said. “We wanted to do it right the first time and make people proud.”
The new ceiling proved a challenge, he said, as did the fact that “everything we chose to do is curved.” Mr. Blau estimated that there are “less than six right angles” in the entire restaurant. “It’s all about curves and that serpentine line.”
In spite of the long construction process, Mr. Blau said the process of opening a new restaurant has become easier, “because the team gets bigger. My job now is almost done.”
Initially, the restaurant will offer just dinner service, expanding gradually to lunch and later to takeout, which Mr. Blau expects to be a popular option. But he wants to give the restaurant and its staff time to find footing before jumping in all the way.
“Most likely we’ll be open 365 days a year,” he said.
The Copper Wok opens for dinner at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.