Restaurants Become Anchor Tenant of Choice
Besides making cacciatore just like mama, what are some other ways to stand out? That's what we'll find out at Bisnow’s Boston Restaurant Development Summit, Feb. 26, 4pm, Hard Rock Café. Bisnow is donating 15% of every ticket sold this Friday to Friends of Boston's Homeless. Sign up here! And stay for cocktails! We talked with some of our panelists ahead of next Thursday's event.
In commercial properties, restaurants have taken the place of retailers who migrated to the Internet, says Lou Katz, partner at Ruberto, Israel & Weiner (talking to us on his way back to Boston from Ft Lauderdale; he misses the snow). Developers are chasing restaurateurs who are independent operators with multiple concepts where customers are entertained by a fun atmosphere. They are a place where people can turn off their smartphones and actually talk to each other.
In this brutal winter, restaurants in office buildings and hotels have become a haven. The Briar Group CEO Austin O’Conner says his restaurants in hotels are generating revenues 63% higher than a year earlier. Come spring, places like Gather (above) at District Hall in the Seaport will draw techies who linger over coffee or a brew. Open since ‘12, District Hall already has 200 events scheduled this year, Lou tells us. Compared to some retail tenants, restaurants may have a smaller footprint but by creating a place where people want to be, they give the landlord a lot of bang per square foot.
Restaurants give customers an experience and make our space special, says Brian Sciera, a VP for WS Development, which is developing 1.1M SF of retail and restaurants at Seaport Square. Under construction for WS: 101 Seaport, being developed by Skanska for PwC’s new HQ slated to open by year-end; Watermark at Seaport, which WS is doing with Skanska and Twining, to open spring ’16; and One Seaport Square being developed by WS, Berkshire Group and BGI scheduled for late ‘16. Restaurants will occupy up to 15% of the 1.1M SF.
Look for restaurants in One Seaport's wrap-around podium, above. And these won’t be commodities. Brian expects tenants to range from fast casual to fine dining. But no matter what they serve, they’ll need interior ambiance, slick layout, and bars that are comfortable and inviting since that's become a more popular place to be seated. Additional blocks of Seaport Square will soon start construction, Brian tells us.
At Market Street in Lynnfield, which WS is developing with National Development, the restaurants that first opened 18 months ago have earned revenues that exceed expectations, Brian says. Once totally built out, the complex will have 400k SF of retail/restaurants. Maybe that will mean shorter waits; now, regular weekend wait times are one to two hours, he tells us.
The Barbara Lynch Gruppo was a pioneer at the Seaport in October ‘08 when it opened Drink at 348 Congress St in the FP3 residences, says COO Jefferson Macklin. It was tough, he recalls. The economy was in the tank, but Barbara was sure the neighborhood had promise. In the building, her company now also owns and operates Sportello. In 2010, when the economy began to regain its footing, it opened Menton, Boston’s only 5 star Château & Relais restaurant.
Owner Barbara Lynch has been blazing culinary trails all over town. 17 years ago she opened No 9 Park on Beacon Hill, which became famous for its prune filled gnocchi. 12 years ago, she opened B&G Oysters and The Butcher Shop in the South End before it became a hot neighborhood. In early ’07, she signed leases for the three restaurants on Congress St in the Seaport before it became a darling location for global investors.
Why did she plunge into the Seaport? She could see money was coming in and the city was encouraging development. But also she had great memories of growing up in Southie and walking by 348 Congress with her mother on their way to Jordan Marsh in Downtown Crossing, Jefferson says. Now, Gruppo, like other restaurateurs, faces the challenge of finding and retaining the right people. The answer, says Jefferson, is to keep growing to offer their staff opportunities.
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