Cava brings wine, tapas to Port City
By CHARLES McMAHON
Article Date: Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Cava, the Port City's first wine and tapas bar, has opened on Commercial Alley. Owner John Akar, right, and Chef Gregg Sessler.(John Huff/Staff photographer)
PORTSMOUTH — From Blue Hawks to business owners, two local men have joined forces to bring the Port City its first wine and tapas bar, Cava, located on Commercial Alley.John Akar and Gregg Sessler, former Exeter High School graduates, always knew they wanted to start a restaurant together. Starting out as teenagers working at the Beach House Restaurant in Hampton Beach, the duo have had their hand in the hospitality business for quite some time."We always had the dream of opening up a restaurant," Akar said.Following high school, the two went their separate ways and after years of doing their own thing, teamed up to bring a bit of Mediterranean flavor to local patrons. Sessler worked on the West Coast as the executive chef at the Caprice Restaurant in San Francisco, while Akar worked in management for Agave Mexican Bistro in Newburyport, Mass.A chance find on craigslist for the property located on Commercial Alley sparked the two to bring the West Coast appeal of tapas to the East Coast.Akar considers Cava one of the first actual wine bars in the city and said while most restaurants only offer wine by the glass, his business will offer it by the taste, half glass and full glass.Cava will also specialize in high-end martinis, he said, and will continue to constantly recreate the wine list."It will be constantly changing and evolving," Akar said.The concept of tapas is all about small portions capable of being shared by patrons, he added. The food menu will have a Mediterranean feel, mixed with some Lebanese, Greek, Turkish and Spanish flavor."You can go light or you can have a full meal," he added.Saturday's grand opening went off without a hitch, said Akar. Customers turned out in force, sparking an hour wait for a table."The place was packed," he said. "People really loved the downstairs bar area because it's not only just a great place to hang out and have a glass of wine, but it provides a city feel."The business will also offer a special toothpick menu from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., where diners can choose from color coded appetizers for an affordable price.The majority of the food is homemade and is made right in front of customers lucky enough to score a seat at the chef's table, said Sessler.Akar plans on heading up the back of the house business, while Sessler will busy himself preparing the many dishes.The establishment is capable of seating nearly 50 patrons and in the warm season will open up the outside seating area.To check out what Cava has to offer visit, http://www.cavatapasandwinebar.com/.