It’s no wonder chef Nick Coffey felt inspired by Lopez Island. Its roads meander through bucolic stretches of farmland, and every passing motorist throws out a friendly wave. Farm stands sell eggs, flowers, fresh produce, homemade jam and whatever else the season’s bounty has wrought. The rich waters around the island are home to halibut, scallops, oysters and more.
Coffey and his wife, Nova Askue, moved from Seattle to Lopez Island in the San Juan archipelago of Washington to open a restaurant called Ursa Minor in 2017. It’s their homage to their weekend getaways to Lopez, where they’d come to escape the stresses of the big city and enjoy a slower pace. They’d drive the island, scooping up farm-fresh products for campfire meals at Spencer Spit State Park. Now, those memories inspire the menu at Ursa Minor.
Coffey had long wanted to open his own restaurant, having worked his way up the ranks of some of Seattle’s best kitchens, including award-winning chef Matt Dillon’s Sitka & Spruce and Ciudad. Though he didn’t go to cooking school, Coffey is gifted with raw talent, and he honed it sharply before branching out on his own. After a successful $25,000 Kickstarter campaign, he was ready to open Ursa Minor.
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