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First things first—Chef Anthony Caturano is not taking over the former Cape Ann Brewing Co. location. He has his hands full with his four restaurants—the Gloucester and Wakefield locations of his BONS-winning Italian spot Tonno, BONS-winning Blue Ox in Lynn, and Prezza, his luxurious 20-year-old North End restaurant (which would also be BONS-winning if we dipped into Boston).

Everyone was sad when Cape Ann Brewing Co. closed in January after 18 years—and speculation has run rampant about the prime waterfront space ever since. It’s just steps from Tonno Gloucester, so Neal Maver, Tonno’s current executive chef, will be very familiar with the neighborhood when he launches his own concept, called Oak to Ember, in the former brewpub. The name comes from the wood-fired grill that will be central to the planned open kitchen.

The restaurant will focus heavily on local seafood and produce, Maver says. “I have a lot of friends up here on the North Shore who own farms, so I’m going to use all their vegetables throughout the spring, summer, and fall.”

Maver isn’t leaving Tonno’s devoted clientele in the lurch—he plans to stay through the busy summer season to keep everything moving smoothly after a difficult year, with the hope of opening Oak to Ember in December.

“We’re training a couple of new chefs, so I’d like to help them out as much as I can, because of how great Anthony has been to me,” Maver says. “[My time at Tonno has been] the best five years I’ve had working in a restaurant. I’ve learned how to cook from Anthony, how to run a successful business from him, how to manage a staff …. It’s been awesome working for him.” 

For his part, Caturano has mixed emotions about his protégé heading out on his own. “Neal has been a founding member of the Tonno Gloucester family since we opened our doors in 2016,” the chef says. “It’s bittersweet to see him leave to pursue his own entrepreneurial venture, especially as we’re gearing up for our five-year celebration this weekend.” 

Caturano will be marking Tonno’s fifth anniversary in his classic style—with a charity luncheon on Friday, June 25, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. All proceeds will go to the Gloucester Fund, which, among other programs, supports the annual summer fireworks display and honors the memory of COVID-19 victims. Tickets are available for $100 per person and allow customers the opportunity to order any of the items off their regular menu. Fans of his annual December Sugo versus Gravy competition, pitting his sauce against Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken’s, know it will be a lot of fun for a good cause.