Defunct downtown club could become large steakhouse - run by two local guys, not a national chain
Christopher Coombs and Brian Piccini hope to replicate the success of their Boston Chops steakhouse in the South End in the large space in Downtown Crossing where Mantra used to be.
At a Boston Licensing Board hearing this morning, the pair, who also own dbar in Dorchester and Deuxave in the Back Bay, said they're looking at putting upwards of $1 million into transforming the troubled old space on Temple Place into a large neighborhood steakhouse for the thousands of people who now live downtown.
The two are seeking one of the five unrestricted liquor licenses the board has to dole out. If they don't get one, they might have to spend more than $300,000 on the open market for one.
Their attorney, Joseph Hanley, said the public need for them to get a license is partly because the burgeoning neighborhood needs a good restaurant. But he continued that the two specialize in taking run-down spaces in forlorn corners and turning them into successful neighborhood-transforming restaurants.
Residents from Dorchester, the South End and the Back Bay all attended the hearing to testify to the changes that had happened with their other restaurants. Back Bay residents and merchants in particular said the pair basically opened up a once ignored stretch to other new restaurants and businesses.
Hanley said that aside from the problems Mantra caused, the space itself is not really attractive to most restaurant operators, because it's so large and mainly bereft of windows. Coombs said the only things that would really work in the space would be another club - which he said nobody in the neighborhood would support - or a large steakhouse.
Without naming specific companies that have recently moved into Boston, their attorney, Joseph Hanley added another reason the board should favor his clients: They're making investments in the city all by themselves. "They're not getting tax breaks, they're not a national company."
The board will not act on any license requests until at least next week, after it holds another round of hearings.
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What is better news?
Another expensive steakhouse blah blah de blah blah or
A new BARBECUE PLACE going in on Bromfield?
I say ribs win.
I would also submit that Stoddards and jm Curley already did the job on Temple Place of saving the day and the steakhouse is a bit late to the Downtown Crossing needs saving party.
* In fact they are last to the party. Riding the coat tails of around 20 successful restaurants who beat them to the punch.
Boston Chops has a few things going for it that I like:
1) it's locally owned, not another goddamned national chain
2) its menu is a tad more adventurous than the largely-interchangeable menus of chain steakhouses, e.g., there's a bunch of offal in the appetizer section (delicious)
3) they do a $25 prime-grade steak frites in three less-popular cuts (that I happen to like a lot: hanger, flat iron, skirt) that is a great bargain.
Let the chains have the Seaport; it'll be the first part of Boston to go underwater.
One question though
Its only a mile to the other Chops restaurant.
Is there that much demand in the area for more of the same?
You might as well ask the people who opened, within
a few square miles: Abe & Louie's, Morton's, The Palm, Bogie's Place, Mooo...., Fleming's, Smith & Wollensky, Wollensky Grill, Davio's, Grill 23, Schhtrip by Schhhhtrega, Umbria Prime, The Capital Grille, Del Frisco's, and Ruth's Chris's Steak's House's.
It's baffling to me, but I guess most people are dull and predictable when it comes to restaurants. Every time I think, "That has to be enough effing fancy steakhouses", somebody opens up another.
I've had many customers to entertain whom I'd try to inveigle into trying something with local flavor or from an extraordinary, original local chef, and they'd say, "Eh, what I really want it a steak. Is there a Ruthses Chrisstesesess here?"
"You have one of those in that crummy restaurant town you're from, don't you?", I'd think, and that's where we'd end up anyway. Feh. Philistines.
My point was not all the other steak houses
My point was that there is already a Boston Chops one mile away.
WIth the exception of Smith and Wollensky, all the other steak houses have just one location in the city.
I just wonder if there is that much demand for one brand so close to its own original location.
So your question is not, "Can we sustain one more steakhouse?"
So far, the answer to that isn't no, surprising to me as that is. Rather, it's, "Will the proximity of a Boston Chops in the South End hurt a Boston Chops in DTX?"
I'm guessing no. The original largely serves a neighborhood audience, with some destination diners, many of who are built-in fans of the owners' other places. The DTX one will serve a different neighborhood audience (those prosperous denizens of the many new luxury condos and rental buildings nearby) and many more tourists and expense-account diners. It also has the space for private dining, which the South End one doesn't, and that's a lucrative sideline, especially near the Fi-Di and Seaport.
Can Boston Chops
support two locations? There are a lot of high end steakhouses relatively close to that spot already, and it seems like a rather limited market in general. That said, their prices are also much more reasonable (relatively speaking) than many of the other steakhouses in town, and it's really, really good food. I support it if the business would last.
Look at the restaurants still there
Legal Crossing, The Merchant, Oceanaire, Marliave, Yvonne's, Mast', Sip Wine Bar, No. 9 Park, Artisan Bistro, Townsman, Ruth's Chris and more less expensive places.
All of which seem to be doing well.
DTX is where places like this SHOULD be going.
It's a no Brainer.
And haley.henry over on Province Street, and
Pabu (from SF celeb-chef Michael Mina) coming to the Millenium Tower, and Ruka (from the Yvonne's folks) coming to the Godfrey Hotel, and Cultivar coming to the Ames Hotel.
Every time I think the city can't support another high-end steakhouse, they open another one.
The wife and I loved haley.henry. Hopefully they'll work out the service bumps (they were few, but present) because I really want those ladies to succeed. The chef, in particular (and I'm sorry that I don't know her name) was one of the most meticulous platers I've had the pleasure to witness, and the thoughtfulness she puts into the plating is also present in every minor detail.
Big fan, having gone only one time, shortly after they opened.
That was my thought too.
Its 1.1 mile from the first Chops to the new proposed location.
Seems a little close.