Summer Moon Photography/Contributed photo                                Jonathan Sutton and Arlen Coiley.

Summer Moon Photography/Contributed photo Jonathan Sutton and Arlen Coiley.

Lopez Island boys bringing italian food and cocktails to Bellingham

  • Wed Jan 22nd, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

Submitted by Jonathan Sutton

Former Lopezian Jonathan Sutton, Executive Chef/Owner, will be bringing along former Lopezian Arlen Coiley as the Chef de Cuisine and partner in the creation of a new restaurant-bar, Storia Cucina, located in the heart of Bellingham, Washington, at 109 Grand Ave.

This new restaurant is making its home in the old renovated building that used to be Michael’s Bookstore, a building with beautiful 18-foot tall ceilings, an original brick wall, and a giant skylight overlooking the kitchen. The walls hold many stories of Bellingham’s history — one wall will display a new 30-foot long illustrated mural of an Italian dinner scene inspired by vintage ads.

Storia Cucina, means “history/story kitchen,” and refers to the way the kitchen and bar will approach every dish and cocktail served. The food and atmosphere will have a rich connection to the European flair of Italy, combined with Pacific Northwest influences. Sutton and Coiley’s mission is to create a comfortable and affordable place to hang out, share stories and eat good food.

The color palate of Storia Cucina is inspired by Italian vintage Vespa’s, San Marzano tomatoes, semolina flour, Sangiovese grapes, and squid ink. It is fun, playful and features the true colors and creative spirit of Italy. Sutton has been working closely on the design with Pinckney Templeton, a friend and ceramic teacher in San Francisco, California.

Chef Sutton describes the food they will be serving “Our house made fresh pasta, from locally milled Cairnspring flour, is the backbone of our menu. We will also be making naturally leavened slow-rise pizzas and focaccia in our Wood Stone oven using the same local flour. All the other ingredients will be sourced from small local farmers and will change with the seasons to keep the menu authentic, simple and fresh.

The restaurant will open its doors for dinner in February and will offer lunch on weekdays, brunch on the weekends and a special happy hour featuring classic Italian aperitivo and street food. Dessert offerings will include gelato, zeppole (Italian donuts) and rotating special items. The bar will serve many classic Italian beverages, as well as a few inspired house cocktails. Sutton and Coiley are especially excited about their selection of Amaro, an Italian herbal liqueur, for enjoying after a great meal.

Sutton and Coiley grew up on Lopez Island. Each has their own intimate connection with Italy and is dedicated to a passion for food and hospitality. Immersed in island values, both chefs mutually feel it is important to spread kindness and community through food and beverage.

Sutton has worked for acclaimed chefs across the nation and received national recognition for his accomplishments at his slow-food restaurant, Hillside Supper Club in San Francisco. He is making his homecoming with the start of Storia Cucina and in mentoring Coiley, who has been apprenticing with Sutton in San Francisco. Sutton is proud to have Coiley on board as a working partner on this project.

Coiley has lived in Bellingham for the last six years. He graduated from Western Washington University and has community roots there. He has worked as the chef at Rifugio’s Country Italian Cuisine and founded the Handshake Coffee Popup. Coiley has also hosted his own pop-up dinner series.

Bellingham is a place both chefs call home and both are looking forward to setting down deeper roots. The whole crew has been working hard on the build-out over the last three months, including Chris, Coiley’s dad who has been a huge help bringing his skills and local wood milled from Lopez.

As the executive chef and owner, Sutton will be bouncing back and forth between San Francisco and Bellingham while Coiley, holding the title of Chef de cuisine/partner, will run the day-to-day operations. These island boys are so excited to bring their dream to life and would like to invite the island community to come share their stories, create new ones and enjoy a great meal.