Archive for the ‘Restaurant News’ Category

Food Trucks

In Restaurant News, Retail Thoughts on July 19, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Food trucks have been getting a lot of buzz in Boston of late. Actually, food trucks have been gaining a lot of attention and momentum in America’s most exciting cities for the last couple of years (NYC, LA, SF, Seattle, Austin, etc.). What’s interesting about the recent buzz in Boston is that it’s from the City’s Mayor and City Council.

One of Boston’s most well known food trucks is Clover, which started operating out Kendall Square in October 2008. Last month Clover started service out of a second truck in Dewey Square, which is at the southern-most tip of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. Clover’s Boston spot has been a huge hit and the honorable Mayor Menino is a fan. In a July 13th speech he spoke about food trucks, specifically IDing Clover, and announced the “Food Truck Challenge,” which will be a sort of food truck business plan competition with the winner getting a spot on City Hall Plaza. Shortly after the Mayor’s speech, City Council President Michael Ross ordered for a hearing regarding “mobile restaurants industry licensing and regulations.” Here’s the link: Food Truck Order for Hearing. On July 14th, the Boston Globe reported that Ross expressed a belief that the City could support 50 – 100 food trucks. (read more)

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the great outdoors

In Restaurant News, Retail Thoughts on May 25, 2010 at 9:53 pm

The Boston Globe’s online counterpart,, had a short piece today – more of a slideshow than anything – re: outdoor dining in the Boston area, which is very timely considering the stretch of warm spring weather we’ve been having. Without exception, every restauranteur I’ve met with over the past couple of years wants an outdoor dining area. It’s (i) a great feature for an urban restaurant – consumers love it – and (ii) it’s typically additional square footage that is usable but is not included in calculating rent.  While there may only be 75 – 100 proper days a year for outdoor dining, it’s no doubt becoming more of a fixture and a “must have” in the Boston dining scene.

As for the piece (link), I think it missed the mark a bit by focusing on the most touristy neighborhoods of the City – Back Bay, Waterfront/North End and Fenway combined had over half of the 19 slides while Harvard Square and the South End each had only 1, respectively.

I believe that Harvard Square and the South End are though the two best neighborhoods in the area for outdoor dining…(read more) Read the rest of this entry »

See ya Starbucks

In Restaurant News, Retail Thoughts on April 18, 2010 at 10:14 pm

There was a NYT article last month about the explosion of “serious” coffeehouses/cafes in NYC (i.e. shops that take great pride and care in the way the coffee is sourced, roasted, prepared and served) and Boston too is on a similar upward course; Cambridge even more so.  We may always be a Dunkin Donuts inclined city but we are finally getting some top-notch coffeehouses that serve proper espresso drinks and outstanding coffee.

The newest addition to the scene is Pavement Coffeehouse on Boylston Street in Boston, just west of Mass Ave, which officially opens tomorrow.  Pavement is hoping on the bandwagon that has brought great success and praise to Crema Cafe, Bloc 11 Cafe, Taste Coffeehouse, Cafe Fixe and Barismo, all of which have opened in the past couple of years. The most exciting and developed retail districts in Somerville/Cambridge have great local cafes.  Davis Square has Diesel Cafe; Ball Square has True Grounds; Porter Sq – Simon’s; Harvard Sq – Crema; Inman Sq – 1369; Union Sq – Block 11; Central Sq – Toscinini’s and Kendall has BeanTowne.  Cambridge is dominating the coffee scene of late (and always has) but with Pavement Boston should be in for a treat.

I think it’s a pretty safe bet that we’ll see between 8 to 12 more of these “serious” coffeehouses opening in the next couple of years and no doubt CityRetail will be keeping a close watch.

Restaurant Depot

In Restaurant News, Retail Thoughts on April 14, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Over the past decade I’ve worked with many restaurants – most recently as a lawyer doing a lot of tenant-side lease negotiations and currently on the landlord-side with Twining Properties and as a broker with CityRetail. Since my clients are usually busier than I am (nobody works harder or more than restauranteurs), I go to them… I’ve seen a lot of kitchens and some really funky buildings. I’ve been immersed enough in the restaurant scene to know the builders, equipment suppliers and food distributors. I know that, at some point, every restaurant owner/manager/chef has made the trek out to Chelsea or Needham to Restaurant Depot for something they needed ASAP.

Last Friday my meeting with Ayr Muir of Clover was relocated from the comfy confines of my office to Ayr’s car, as Ayr needed to make a Restaurant Depot run (don’t worry Clover fans, Ayr didn’t buy any food product, just some paper goods). We used the ride to and from Chelsea to go over a handful of final issues in connection with a lease for Clover’s soon-to-be first storefront location. Ayr knows me well enough by now to know that I’d be fine with the car ride meeting and, quite frankly, I was thrilled at the idea of having my first Restaurant Depot experience. (read more) Read the rest of this entry »

Evoo & Za, finally.

In Closed Deals, Kendall Square, Restaurant News on March 4, 2010 at 9:58 pm

When I joined Twining Properties two years ago I had one primary assignment: bring life, energy and value to the ground floor, front-corner retail space in the Watermark.  The task of bringing a full-service, locally owned, responsible and acclaimed restaurant to the Watermark occupied a lot of my time through 2008 and 2009.  It was a challenging assignment in a misunderstood neighborhood during an extremely difficult economic period.  Our team toured dozens of the areas top restauranteurs, signed a lease and subsequently lost the deal in late 2008 due to a financing contingency (not a unique story for Fall 2008) and  went back to the market in 2009 determined to find the best possible operator.  Enter: Evoo & Za.

Closing the Evoo & Za deal was a true team effort.  From our main office in New York City to our financial partner in Des Moines, all parties put in the time and imagination to make this work.  Crafting the deal here in Cambridge for Twining Properties was David Downing, Brian Dacey and myself, with some crucial assistance from restaurant guru and now CityRetail collaborator, Michael Staub.

Now, on the eve of Evoo & Za opening at the Watermark, all is good.  We have one of the areas top chefs, Peter McCarthy, operating one of the most acclaimed neighborhood restaurants in metro Boston, Evoo, with another McCarthy restaurant next door, Za.  Peter owns and operates the restaurants with his wife, Colleen, and business partner, Steve Kurland (Evoo was previously located on Beacon Street in Somerville; Za has another location in Arlington, on Mass Ave.).  CityRetail believes that the best restaurants have the best operators – Evoo/Za is no exception. I’ll stop gushing now and just share some recent pics. I suspect the next round of pictures will be of a very crowded restaurant… (read more to view pictures) Read the rest of this entry »

2009: The Most Difficult Year in Retail Real Estate History?!

In General, Kendall Square, Restaurant News on January 6, 2010 at 11:02 pm

I visit Retail Traffic’s blog about once a week. It’s a pretty good source of info, though very much about big box retail and national trends that do not have much to do with our projects here in Cambridge. A recent post/article was titled “Retail Real Estate’s 2009 in Review.”  Here’s the first sentence:

The most difficult year in retail real estate’s history is at an end.

Wow, “most difficult” in all of history!? I find this statement hard to believe but I think most will agree its was a tough year.  Or do we?… (read more) Read the rest of this entry »

EVOO & ZA in Kendall

In Closed Deals, Kendall Square, Restaurant News on January 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm

I checked out the progress of the EVOO/Za restaurant buildout today for the first time since mid-December. Things are looking great and it is fun to see the physical space being transformed. The window wraps went up yesterday and look very sharp.

Evoo/Za window wraps are up!

Closing the EVOO/Za deal last year was a highlight for the CityRetail team and no doubt a boost to Kendall Square generally. It is amazing how quickly the news and excitement has spread. I’ll touch more on the EVOO/Za deal in later posts and provide regular updates as to progress of the buildout.