Proposed new Pru restaurant would fill Back Bay's unmet seafood need, lawyer says
Sean Griffing, who co-owns Trade on Atlantic Avenue, is seeking city approval to open a new, high-end seafood place on Ring Road in the Prudential Center complex.
At a hearing before the Boston Licensing Board today, his attorney, Karen Simao said part of the public need for the proposed 117-seat restaurant is to quench the Back Bay's hunger for seafood since the closing of the Pru Legal earlier this year. "There is definitely that void in the neighborhood" - one that the Atlantic Fish Co. on Boylston simply can't fill, she said. She did not mention the Legal Seafood at Copley Place.
She added that the Back Bay, in addition to being constantly filled with tourists and existing residents, is seeing an influx of new residential units, whose occupants will result in an even larger cumulative hunger for the sea's bounty, served in a tony atmosphere.
Griffing needs board approval to buy the liquor license from the shuttered Melting Pot on Arlington Street, which apparently found the neighborhood did not have quite as unfulfilled a need for fondue.
In addition to the 117 seats inside, the restaurant, which went unnamed at today's hearing, would have 55 patio seats, Simao said.
The mayor's office and the offices of city councilors Bill Linehan, Steve Murphy, Michelle Wu and Michael Flaherty supported the proposal, as did two residents of the building in which the restaurant would be located.
However, Marvin Wool, a member of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay's Licensing and Building Use Committee, questioned whether NABB really decided not to consider the proposal because it's on the boundary of its service area, as Simao averred, and asked the board to defer any action until after more than a handful of the 1,200 residents in the Pru complex could get a better look at the proposal.
Wool pointed to the new Luke's Lobsters in the Pru complex and the Select Oyster Bar on Gloucester Street as evidence that "there's not a dearth of seafood" in the Back Bay.
Simao, who said she has been working on Pru-related restaurant business for a long time, objected to Wool's assertion that the leaders of his group decided not to consider the proposal in favor of a meeting for abutters - attended by roughly 15 people.
The board decides Thursday whether to approve the license transfer.
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Atlantic Fish, and the Park Square Legal Sea Foods, and
Select Oyster, and Uni, and Jasper White's Summer Shack, and Ostra, and Luke's Lobster, and Bistro du Midi, and Douzo, and Haru, and Snappy Sushi.
But, yeah, otherwise, huge void.
I was thinking the same thing.
Thanks for the list!
The Legals inside Copley too.
But I agree.. another fish place?
I'm okay with another seafood place in Back Bay if
it's any good. I've long said Boston's reputation as a city loaded with great seafood joints was overblown for most of my life: visitors who wanted good, fresh local seafood, I used to send to Chinatown live-tank seafood joints like Peach Farm.
Things started to change with Neptune Oyster, and have gotten steadily better since, but we still have too many tourists only visiting gloppy-chowder joints and Legal. There's quality raw bar all over town now, for instance, and not just in seafood-focused restaurants. Bistro du Midi is Southern French, not just about seafood, but the chef is particularly gifted with it, having cheffed for years at the amazing Le Bernardin. Select Oyster Bar is an example of an excellent new seafood joint, no coincidence the chef/owner ran Neptune's kitchen for years, though his menu is usefully original.
The joke here is trying to justify your place by pretending there's only one other seafood place in the neighborhood.
Why is too many fish
Why is too many fish restaurants a problem the board has to prevent?
That's not why the issue came up. When you apply for a liquor license, you have to give some proof of the "public need" for the license. The restaurant's lawyer chose to make the relative shortfall of seafood restaurants in the Back Bay part of her justification for a liquor license on Ring Road.
What will close to make room
What will close to make room for this?
If it's really on Ring Road, it's likely not displacing
anything. I'm thinking it might go in the ground floor of the Avalon apartment tower, next door to the back entrance to Saks: maybe the only location on that short block that could support a 55-seat patio.
Lots of construction there above that truck ramp, and the summary did say 'residents in the building..."