Cōv Brings Nantucket Charm to Wayzata’s Main Drag

by | Jan 2015

Clay Gibbins, right, and Zach Schugel co-executive chefs at Cōv, show off their pan-seared seasonal salmon from the lunch menu.

Clay Gibbins, right, and Zach Schugel co-executive chefs at Cōv, show off their pan-seared seasonal salmon from the lunch menu.

Cōv brings a bit of Nantucket to Wayzata’s main drag.

Thanks to Cōv Restaurant, located on Lake Street in downtown Wayzata, you no longer have to hop on a plane to experience an East Coast-inspired night on the town. The latest from Dean Vlahos, the force behind Champps, Redstone American Grill and Wayzata’s own BLVD Kitchen & Bar, Cōv opened for business in July, and, according to Vlahos, the concept has been well-received by the community.

Although he has made Minnesota his home since 1980, Vlahos hails originally from the East Coast, so the new restaurant’s concept is a nod to a region he knows well and travels to frequently. The restaurant was designed with the help of interior designer Jennifer Cashman and Minneapolis-based architecture firm Shea.

“Jennifer suggested that we do the restaurant in all white with a nod to coastal design,” says Vlahos. “I think what we ended up with is one of the most beautiful restaurant spaces in the state.”

Vlahos’s observation is not unfounded. The expansive space boasts a large island-style bar standing among a sprawling maze of comfortable booths and tables with seating for 200 guests. A bank of floor-to-ceiling windows comprises the entire south-facing wall, affording a panoramic view of Lake Minnetonka. With crisp white walls, natural wood flooring and tabletops, and zinc and marble bar tops on both the liquor and oyster bars, the décor serves as a simple yet sophisticated backdrop for the lake’s natural beauty. In the colder months, a free-standing fireplace provides a cheerful touch.

“The water is our canvas,” explains Vlahos. “All I had to do is put windows there, because the artwork is the lake, and the scenery changes every day.”

During the summer, Cōv’s patio has seating for an additional 200 guests, though Vlahos says winter attendance has been as enthusiastic as it was during the summertime. “The lighting and fireplace add a sense of warmth and hominess guests crave during the winter,” he says. “It could be zero degrees outside, but our customers will be comfortable.”

As far as the menu goes, Vlahos says Cōv takes an accessible approach. Despite the coastal influence, he says, the menu isn’t seafood-dominated. “We serve a comfortable selection of American fare in an environment I would describe as ‘polished casual,’ ” Vlahos says. “We aren’t a special-occasion restaurant; we want to offer something for everyone.”

Although the restaurant sources some ingredients locally, Vlahos says the focus is always on quality. If the best product available comes from out of state, he says, then that’s what Cōv buys. “The better the product you purchase, the better the outcome of the final dish,” he explains. “We are, above all, driven by quality.”

Co-executive chef Zach Schauge describes the menu as “eclectic new American cuisine.” Seafood, though not the central focus of the menu, tends to be popular, he says, given Cōv’s theme and its location on the lake.

“We try to draw inspiration from the palate of Wayzata,” Schauge says. “We want to offer familiar favorites, but provide a top-notch presentation and a creative twist.”

“Our motto here is ‘Flavor drives traffic,’” adds Vlahos. “Zach [and co-executive chef Clay Gibbons are] very good at providing the flavor profiles I envision our customers want.”

According to Schauge, Vlahos promotes an environment where every dish is prepared with extreme care and consistency. “Attention to detail is huge,” he explains. “Proper seasoning, using the best techniques—those are the little things that make a good restaurant a great restaurant.”

“If a dish isn’t right, I have no problem stopping dinner service and fixing whatever needs to be fixed,” Vlahos says. This philosophy, Schauge says, is one that gets results and has helped him grow as a chef.

“Every day our food gets better, our kitchen grows stronger, and I hope our guests respond to that,” Schauge says.


Cōv is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, plus brunch on weekends. Stay tuned for breakfast, which will start soon.
Cōv Wayzata
700 E. Lake St., Wayzata


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