The popular downtown Edgartown restaurant Rockfish has been sold to Island restaurateur Mike Santoro, as he expands his business operations to all three of the down Island towns.

The restaurant, opened in 2014, was previously owned by the Coogan family, who own The Wharf Pub, a nearby liquor store called Wharf Wine & Spirits and the recently-purchased Al’s Package Store in Edgartown. Mr. Santoro owns The Lookout, Fishbones and Ocean View restaurants in Oak Bluffs, The Net Result in Vineyard Haven ­— and now Rockfish.

Mr. Santoro said the deal closed Wednesday. The sale does not include the real estate, which is owned by Island Realty Trust and trustee John Roberts III Mr. Roberts is a co-partner in the food distribution company Island Food Products. 

In an interview with the Gazette at the restaurant, Mr. Santoro said he plans to reopen the business in two weeks, offering lunch and dinner service seven days a week, year-round.

Known for classic American fare, wood-fired pizza, a vast bar selection and off-season specials, the two-floor restaurant has been a mainstay in the heart of Edgartown since it opened almost a decade prior.

“I came here a lot to eat and drink,” Mr. Santoro said of his decision to purchase the restaurant. “This was my favorite spot to watch Sunday football.”

Will Coogan, speaking on behalf of the Coogan family Wednesday, said the sale was bittersweet, but the family was looking to reduce its operations as they acquired Al’s Package Store and shifted their business model.

“In order to focus on one or two things instead of four, we needed to downsize,” he said.

Mr. Coogan said staffing was a challenge at Rockfish in the wake of the pandemic, noting the difficulties of running two restaurants year-round. Mr. Coogan said the family always saw The Wharf and Rockfish as distinct businesses, each with their own vibe. While The Wharf feels more like a pub, Rockfish had more of an upscale, but still casual setting.

“What we always thought was something completely different from the Wharf,” Mr. Coogan said of Rockfish. “And it was — it still is.”

After the Ocean View burned down in March, Mr. Santoro said the opportunity to buy Rockfish was enticing, allowing him to continue a style of operation that sees his employees shift between restaurants as the seasons change. Employees who would normally work at Ocean View over the winter will now work at Rockfish, he said, bolstering its existing staff.

“The staff will be rounded out very nicely,” Mr. Santoro said, adding that the head bartender and executive chef will remain on staff at Rockfish.

He said under his ownership he wants the restaurant to maintain its familiar ambiance, but plans to make additions to the menu and, primarily, get the restaurant operating daily.

“I want to get it back open and get the buzz back,” Mr. Santoro said.

Mr. Santoro said any broad changes coming to the restaurant won’t be immediate; for the present he plans to repaint and redo the floors. He said that patrons, including himself, have enjoyed Rockfish as it is for years, and he wants to retain its niche in the Edgartown dining scene.

“It’s an icon of Edgartown. I’ve been going to this place since its was David Ryan’s,” he said. “It’s not fine dining — it’s kind of in between.”

Reflecting on the work his family put into the restaurant over the last eight years, Mr. Coogan said parting with the restaurant was difficult. He remembered working with Island artists like Marston Clough and Kevin Bagely to piece together the decor of the restaurant’s interior.

“I’ll miss it,” he said. “Beautiful place.”

But he said the decision was necessary for the family to manage its other existing operations in town.

“So it’s good for the family and it relieves stress off my brother and sister,” Mr. Coogan said, referencing his brother, Geoghan, and his sister, Nell. “And we can focus on the Wharf.”