Hooked’s grand opening seemed to go off without a hitch, reeling in a large crowd that enjoyed drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and live entertainment in Lola’s former location, on Beach Road in Oak Bluffs, last Friday, May 25.
At the 8:30 pm opening there was already a large, classy, 30-something and older crowd. It seemed that every other commingler had a drink in hand as they engaged in conversation.
Hooked has three bars, and each bustled all night. The back bar, with dimmer lights, had deejays playing remixed funk classics. Lola’s defining, jazzy murals are covered up but not painted over. Though the space looks different, the music preserved Lola’s NOLA feel, letting Hooked have a new take on a familiar atmosphere.
As seems customary, the crowd got younger as the night got later. At 10 pm, King Cake and the Baby started their set. In a rare occurrence, the dance floor was filled from the first note. A publicly comfortable couple took the first plunge, swaying their way into the center of the floor, and people of all ages followed. Spiraling dancers occupied a spacious cleared area, and the tunes sound tracked the gentle tumult that continued to surround the bar areas. King Cake and the Baby’s grooves moved the crowd well past 11 pm, the dancers not diffusing for a second, continuing to mill about long after the last note had been played.
Hooked is a venture of Atria owners Christian and Greer Thornton. “We wanted to make an every night place,” said marketing and operations manager Kaitlin Lynch. “The team here is incredible. The goal was to make a restaurant that would be anyone’s speed.” To that end Hooked is more casual than Atria, modeling itself as a place that people from all walks and locales on the Island can come to congregate.
One of the intimidating aspects of operating a restaurant in such a large space is making it feel cozy and full. Helping to accomplish this are newly enclosed booths, cushioned and decorated so that they feel like the dining rooms of a seaside summer beach house. The restaurant’s neutral color palate was designed so that a bride can set the color for her event. Though Hooked has its own feel, the designers aimed to stay true to Lola’s soul, and the menu maintains a Southern twang.
The Friday opening was a promising start. The crowd grew so large that parking spaces became a hot commodity. Perhaps taxis are a good idea for future parties. Hooked was an accommodating host for both the elbow rubbing early evening and the body swinging music that followed.
Ben Williams of Vineyard Haven is a summer intern at The Times.