Upscale Corner Store and Café Proposed at former Pret-a-Manger

An upscale corner store, as well as a café, intends to open in the former Pret-a-Manger space at 501 Boylston St., said representatives for the business at the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay License and Building Use Committee meeting held virtually on Nov. 1.

The 3,000 square-foot, ground-level storefront would be the first location in Boston of Foxtrot, which opened began  around eight years ago as a delivery app in Chicago, Ill., before transitioning to retail. Foxtrot now has 10 locations in that city, as well as two locations in Dallas, Texas, and three more in Washington, D.C., Taylor Bloom, the company’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer.

“We want to be part of the neighborhood, so each store is uniquely designed for the neighborhood,” said Bloom. “The layouts [of each store] are different, and the items they carry are catered to the specific neighborhoods.”

With proposed hours of operations of 7 a.m. to 10 or 11 a.m. daily, the Boylston Street location, would have one side of the store dedicated to a retail grocery store, which would also sell beer, wine, and liquor, said Bloom, while the café would be located on the other side of the store.

Between 10 and 15 percent of the store’s  items would be locally sources, such as baked goods or food items made by area restaurants, and a local roaster would likely supply the coffee for the café, added Bloom.

With only approximately 200 square feet of the 3,000 square-foot store would be dedicated to alcohol, its sale, including beer and wine, is only expected to account for between 15 and 10 percent of the store’s revenue, said Molly Sandza, director or real estate expansion for Foxtrot Ventures,

Foxtrot would also agree to a request from NABB Chair Elliott Laffer that the Boylston Street store enter into a written commitment not to sell single-shot “nip” bottles of hard alcohol, said Molly Souza.

Prepared food items would be cooked at an off-site commissary,  said Bloom, so that only the reheating of food would take place on the premises.

Trash would be transferred via an interior passageway to a rear loading dock where there’s a trash compacter, said Bloom.

As for an expected opening date, “the goal is to open by next spring,” said Bloom, although Foxtrot hasn’t yet started the application process with the city’s Licensing Board to obtain Common Victualler (CV) License, as well as an off-premises liquor license, for the proposed Boylston Street location, and that likely wouldn’t happen until after the holidays.

Conrad Armstrong, chair of NABB’s LBU Committee, told the applicant that he would notify him of the outcome of the committee’s vote on their application by the end of next week.

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