The Paddle Inn Drops Anchor in Newburyport

With coastal comfort food, easy-drinking cocktails and local beers, and beachy vibes from the team behind Trina's Starlite Lounge.

The Paddle Inn. / Photo provided

The Paddle Inn. / Photo provided

As the snow starts to fall in downtown Newburyport, a venerable team of bar professionals have a beachy themed new restaurant. The Paddle Inn opens tonight at 4 p.m., a North Shore sibling to Trina’s Starlite Lounge, Parlor Sports, and Audubon.

The Paddle Inn is the latest from chef Suzi Maitland, Beau Sturm, and Josh Childs. The trio was not actively looking to open another spot, Sturm says, but after he and his family moved to Newbury in fall 2015, he kept noticing the vacant, State Street storefront, and decided to make a call.

“This is a unique location, and it’s a little place that’s a labor of love,” Childs says.

Like at their three Boston-area concepts, the team envisions the Paddle Inn as a go-to neighborhood bar. Next door to Nancy Batista-Caswell’s oyster bar and chophouse, Brine, in the bustling downtown merchant district, “This section of State Street is special, and we’re hoping to add to that,” he says.

They’ll do that with casual, coastal-inspired fare from around the world—coconut beef skewers with Thai chili sauce; daily ceviche; fritto misto with fried calamari, shrimp, zucchini, jalapeño, artichokes, and peppadew remoulade; piri piri chicken (a beloved Trina’s blue plate special); a classic fried fish sandwich; tea-smoked ribs with hoppin’ john; and more. Check out the opening menu below.

Of course, there’s also a huge focus on the beverage program. There are seasonal cocktails, like the Trina’s favorite, the Rockin’ Chair, with black tea-infused bourbon; Corn & Oil, with full-bodied, El Dorado eight-year rum; and After Yoga, a vodka sipper with green tea, mint, and honey.

A handful of “beach beers,” from Mexico, Singapore, Nantucket, and beyond are available by the bottle or can, alongside necessities like Miller High Life, local selections from Smuttynose, Lord Hobo, and more. The four-option draft list is for “locals only,” with four North Shore breweries represented on the opening list.

The wine menu, with value-driven sparklers, reds, and whites by the glass and bottle, will have a couple rosé options year-round. There’s also an extensive menu of sub-$10, after dinner sippers, like amaro Montenegro, Bailey’s, green and yellow chartreuse, and other digestifs.

The narrow restaurant seats about 45, and that’s counting the handful of seats the team plans to put outside once the weather warms up again. (But it has a larger kitchen than the space shared by Trina’s and Parlor, Childs adds.) The Paddle Inn has seven tables, plus 15 seats at the bar.

Design-wise, it’s not quite a throwback like the pin-up-plastered Trina’s, but looks to mid-century modern elements, like stainless steel picture boxes holding black-and-white, abstract photos from the ocean; and Baltic birch plywood accents with routed edges, recalling a surfboard. There’s also a working turntable and a record collection.

The minimal design has nautical elements, like ship cleats to hang personal items under the bar, and weathered grey wood flooring. There are a few splashes of bright oranges and teal, and the space takes advantage of streetside bay windows to let in natural light.

The Paddle Inn will serve dinner until 10 p.m. nightly, with a burger, fries, and other bar snack specials on the chalkboard until 11 p.m., Maitland says. Sunday brunch (10 a.m.-3 p.m.) is coming within a couple weeks, and lunch will begin in the spring.

In the meantime, the team is meeting the neighborhood, who will ultimately help determine the vibe of the new spot, Sturm says. Debuting during December is actually not a detriment here: Sure, the summer would probably be busier, but Childs was impressed with the turnout during last week’s Downtown Newburyport Holiday Invitation, which happens each Friday this month.

“It’s a really interesting extension of Boston really all the way up to Portland, Maine, there are all these little towns that have a restaurant community,” he says. “It really is a restaurant destination.”

The Paddle Inn, 27 State St., Newburyport, 978-572-1242,

The Paddle Inn. / Photo provided

The Paddle Inn. / Photo provided