At the height of the coronavirus epidemic in Massachusetts The Acquitaine Group Italian restaurant, Cinquecento, which was closed due to a statewide shutdown to flatten the curve with COVID-19 infections was flooded with approximately five feet of water from a water main break on Harrison Avenue.
Since the mid-April flood there has been a lot of activity to make the building (and surrounding buildings) habitable again but earlier this week the successful Italian restaurant with the beautiful patio announced that they will not reopen. Below is a photo of me at their Rosso Container Bar on their beautiful patio.
Last December I first wrote about the new South End cafe, MOD Espresso, located inside the Modern Relik home design showroom located at 485 Harrison Avenue in my post, South End’s trendy Italian cafe MOD Espresso opens.
However, since I first wrote about this European-style coffee bar a lot has happened and I wanted to remind people about this great little cafe which may not be on your radar. Since reopening after the coronavirus lockdown, the cafe has updated its menu adding items like Iggy’s bagels (which yours truly just devoured) avacado toast and for those who like sweets some very tastey cookies.
At the moment MOD Espresso, is giving away their delicious cookies with the purchase of a coffee so for a little more than $2.00 you can get a great cup of coffee and a cookie (I’m partial to their oatmeal raisin).
485 Harrison Avenue
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Mon – Sat)
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Sun)
This is my favorite food tasting event in Boston. Sergio and I started attending “The Taste” nearly 20 years ago when I was working at AIDS Action and it continues to be one of my favorite charity events to attend and support.
For one night in March, AIDS Action brings together 40+ South End restaurants for a delicious evening of bite-sized servings, live cooking demonstrations, silent auction, as well as wine tastings and beer sampling. Tickets have been on sales since late last year so if you’ve yet to purchase your tickets don’t delay since the event generally sells out before the night of the event.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit tasteofthesouthend.org.
A new residential development has been proposed for 566 Columbus Avenue. The building which sits at the busy intersection of Mass and Columbus Ave was purchased earlier this year by New Boston Ventures, and the new owners have proposed redeveloping the site into a new six-story mixed use commercial and residential building (rendering shown above).
The proposed project (currently unnamed) would feature a community oriented ground floor with approximately 5,000 sf of commercial space that would include a social enterprise café with outdoor seating, an art gallery, and improved community space for the United South End Settlements, which has been in the existing building since the mid 1970s.
The proposed project would include 66 residential home ownership units, 11 of which would be reserved for artist live/work spaces, as well as 42 below-grade parking spaces. The proposal would seem to make much better use of the space as it exists today (see below).
Photo of La Canular in the South End from Boston Magazine
The former home to Sister Sorel reopened this past Wednesday as Le Canular, the South End’s newest wine bar. According to the article in Boston Magazine the wines will all be priced at $13 and there will be a limited menu that you can check out Wednesday through Saturday from 6 p.m.-midnight.
I’m happy to see the space reopen and wish Maslow and his team much luck. While I’ve enjoyed the food at its neighboring Whaling in Oklahoma, I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m sitting in Tremont 647. I hope the transformation from Sister Sorel to Le Canular is more successful.
Boston Magazine recently featured an article about a new Mexican restaurant that will open inside the Revolution Hotel. Cosmica Mexican Eatery & Bar will focus on “inventive Mexican street food” and include items like chorizo-queso jalapeno poppers and duck carnitas tacos with mole verde – sounds delicious.
The new restaurant will be managed by the successful Wildlife Hospitality team, who also run The Beehive in the South End and Harvard Square’s Beat Brew Hall. Although the article didn’t mention a live entertainment license, I would bet you can expect Cosmica to offer live music. The hotel pays tribute to Boston’s rich music history and it would be only fitting that this new venue help the city’s current generation of musicians thrive.
Cosmica currently says they expect to open in November, but after taking a quick walk by the property this past weekend, it looks like a lot of work still needs to be done so we will see. Stay tuned.
The title of this blog post was my response to Mark Bruso’s recent
He points out how centrally located the South End is as well as its proximity to major interchanges. Bruso further asserts that the South End is home to a highly skilled workforce (more so than any other downtown neighborhood) with “79% more healthcare workers and 52% more management professionals than the next best neighborhood”. Moreover, the neighborhood is projected to see a boom in office market space, that is expected to double over the next five years due to three developments: 80 East Berkeley St, 321 Harrison Ave and the huge BMC Exchange that will replace Boston’s Flower Market.
Unlike the near universal criticism leveled at the Seaport, which is defined by buildings best described as unimaginative, glass boxes with few public spaces – the South End maintains a distinctive look, known for its 19th century Victorian Bowfronts, Renaissance Revival, Italianate and French Second Empire row houses as well as beautiful parks and converted brick mills housing artists, small businesses and residences. But his most compelling argument in my mind really is the livability and quality of that life. He points out that this tiny downtown neighborhood is home to more than 120 eateries and 25 bars – making it a mecca for young professionals.
I agree with all of Bruso’s assertions and hope that if development does indeed take off the City will use those appealing traits outlined in his article to insist that developers make greater investment in building affordable housing (in this community), space for small businesses to thrive and better public transport.
You can read the full article from the Boston Business Journal, Is the South End Boston’s next big thing?
Have you heard? Boston Chops, one of my favorite places to grab a drink, has kicked off their summer live music series. Starting earlier this month and running through September 1st, each Tuesday through Thursday and on Sunday for brunch Boston Chops South End will have live music.
Grabbing a drink after work during the week has suddenly become a lot more interesting. Definitely swing by and check out Boston Chops during their “Wicked Local Live Music” series.
Last Monday Black Jack Pasta Kitchen opened in the space formerly occupied by Morse Fish Co. at 1401 Washington Street. Their opening continues a trend of more affordable take out dining options that have been popping up through out the South End over the past 2-3 years.
Their menu is very approachable with hot and cold subs ranging from $8-$10, choose your own pastas range from $11 – $15 depending on your sauce and toppings and larger entrees range from $14-$16.
The menu provides a nice compliment to Union Pizza which is next door and recently opened after the Greek sub shop, Harry O’s closed. I’ve yet to try the food at Black Jack Pasta but their pasta, subs & garlic bread reviews on Yelp seem decent and will likely be a popular place for grabbing a quick dinner.
Black Jack Pasta Kitchen
1401 Washington Street – South End
11AM – 11PM daily
Heather and Colin Lynch of Bar Mezzana, Shore Leave, No Relation, and the soon-to-open Black Lamb brasserie on Tremont Street in the South End
The team behind the popular restaurants Bar Mezzana and Shore Leave / No Relation will be opening a third restaurant in the South End called Black Lamb in the space previously occupied by Stephi’s on Tremont Street, that closed earlier this year.
Located at 571 Tremont Street in the heart of the South End, Black Lamb is described as an “American brasserie” and will serve lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Although there are few details about the new restaurant, plans are for it to open later this summer.
You can follow their progress on their IG account, @blacklambbos. More information about Black Lamb from EaterBoston here.
A new bakery will be opening this fall in the South End according to Eater Boston and Tatte which made the announcement last week via their Instagram account (see below).
The new location will be on Harrison Avenue across from the Whole Foods and Ink Block in the new residence building at 345 Harrison Avenue.
I am both happy about this announcement and torn. Sergio and I are in between what I will refer to as the South End’s “Temptation Triangle” situated between the soon to open Tatte Bakery, South End Buttery Cafe and Flour.
Back in 2015 I hosted a blind croissant tasting to see who made the best croissants in the South End. At the time Cafe Madeline was the clear winner. I may need to try another tasting to see if Tatte can take the title away from the French cafe located on Columbus Avenue.
The Steven Cohen Real Estate Team has published their Spring 2019 South End Stakeholder’s report. Their report compiles data pertaining to the real estate market both locally and nationally.
The findings will not be a surprise but does help put the latest real estate boom in perspective. Below are a few of the findings that caught my attention.
- Boston remains one of the most robust and expensive markets in the US. The city of Boston has a median listing price of more than $500,000 and prices are projected to grow by 4.6%.
- Boston is growing faster than city planners expected (population estimate for Boston in 2030 will top 760,000 residents). In response Mayor Walsh wants to build 69,000 more units with more than 20% earmarked as “affordable units” for qualified buyers.
- The South End was second to Southie for number of sales by neighborhood; 632 units were sold in 2018 vs. 598 in 2017.
- The median sale price in the South End is now just under $1,000,000 at $990,000 in 2018 vs. $925,000 in 2017.
The South End continues to increase in cost which is both great news for home owners and disappointing if we want to remain a vibrant community. With prices continuing to rise, it seems less likely that we will meet our own commitment to be a community that welcomes everyone.
The South End’s revival is nothing short of amazing, but I would like to see this neighborhood become a place where more people from different walks of life have an opportunity to be a part of this amazing community and the spiraling cost of housing makes that less likely so the Cohen report is bittersweet to read.
Rendering of renovated Alexandra Hotel
The decrepit Alexander Hotel on the corner of Washington Street and Mass Avenue may finally (after so many false starts) have the backing it needs to be restored to its former glory. Earlier this month the BPDA (Boston Planning and Development Agency) approved developer plans for the redevelopment of the historic Hotel Alexandra.
Above is a photo of what developers are proposing to do, which includes restoring the facade (see photo below for what it originally looked like). The developers will also include more floors so the building will go from five to thirteen stories and have approximately 150 hotel rooms as well as a ground floor restaurant and cafe space and a rooftop level bar / restaurant.
Alexandra Hotel – October 1899 | Source Wikipedia
The Hotel Alexandra was built at the end of the 19th century; first opening their doors to the public in 1875. Despite its beautiful and distinctive look, the hotel began to fail in the first half of the 1900s and has been permanently vacant for more than twenty years.
I first wrote about this project in the fall of 2017 but since then with the exception of a public meeting held last spring, there has been very little news about the proposed mixed use complex that will span nearly 2 acres on the border of the South End and Chinatown. Little news until last week when the developers announced they had received $105 million in construction financing.
For those unfamiliar with this project the Shawmut Avenue/Washington Street Block project will include three new buildings and represents a collaborative effort between the developer and two Chinatown community organizations. All combined the project will include more than 500 residential units, 230 parking spaces as well as space to house two religious sanctuaries with combined seating for 1,130 people, a gymnasium, fitness rooms, offices, classrooms and meeting spaces for religious education, recreational and social services uses. The new buildings will also have new space for retail.