NABB Licensing and Building Use Committee Hears Proposal for Newbury Street Gastro-Pub

The duo behind Pinky’s – a self-described “chef-driven globally inspired gastro bar” proposed for the former Itadaki space at 267-269 Newbury St. – was on hand for the March 6 virtual monthly meeting of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay License and Building Use Committee to detail their plans for the restaurant.

The proposed future home of Pinky’s at 267-269 Newbury St.

​The restaurant’s proposed manager of record is Richard Sullivan, who worked for more than 20 years at R.F. O’Sullivan’s, the longstanding Irish pub and restaurant in Somerville owned by his father until he recently sold the building, as well as at a second location of the restaurant still operating in Lynn. Sullivan would own and operate Pinky’s in partnership with another local veteran of the restaurant industry, Jairo Dominguez, whose experience includes operating  Rock & Rye American Bar in the Theatre District and previously serving as co-owner of Backyard Betty’s, a now-shuttered South Boston sports bar and grill.

​Pinky’s proposed hours of operation would be 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week, which would mirror Itadaki’s previous business hours, said Tom Miller, the applicant’s attorney, while the patio would close at 10 p.m., as was also the case with Itadaki.

​Pinky’s food offerings would be “mainly small plates with street food with some large offerings,” said Miller, while its drink menu would include signature cocktails, along with a selection of beer and wine.

​The price points for dishes would be in the “mid- to high teens” to the $20 range, said Sullivan, as the restaurant wouldn’t offer fine dining and instead aspires to be “a place you want to frequent and enjoy a great night out with friends, family, and co-workers.”

​Pinky’s would offer only dinner service to start, added Dominguez, but it eventually intends to also offer Saturday and Sunday brunch. The proposed hours would also allow the restaurant to open for lunch in the future.

​While the restaurant’s capacity has yet to be determined by the city’s Inspectional Services Department, seating inside is for 42 patrons, with additional standing room, while the outside patio seats 48 patrons, said Miller.

​The restaurant would be “rebranded and refreshed” under the new ownership, said Miller, and no major renovations are planned for the space. No additional zoning relief is needed, he added, since the transition from Itadaki to Pinkie’s would essentially be a “corporation-to-corporation transfer.”

​As was the case with Itadaki, deliveries will be made through the alley to two points of entry, said Miller, while trash would be picked up daily from a dumpster on private property in the alley.

​Due to a procedural oversight on their part, the applicant already appeared before the city’s Licensing Board on Feb. 15, and NABB subsequently requested that the city defer making a determination on the application to allow NABB time to review it.

​In another matter, the committee heard from an applicant who plans to open an upscale café and coffee bar with a beer, wine, and cordials license in the lower-level space formerly occupied by Caffe Nero at 207 Newbury St.

​The proposed restaurant would be owned and operated by Phil Colicchio, together with his cousin, Tom Colicchio, a five-time James Beard award-winning celebrity chef who has appeared as head judge on Bravo TV’s long-running series, “Top Chef” and is also owner of the Crafted Hospitality restaurant group. Manhattan-based Crafted Hospitality includes Craft, which has location in New York City and Los Angeles; Craftsteak in Las Vegas; and Vallata and Temple Court, both located in New York City, among other establishments.

​“I’ve been part of Tom’s businesses for 25 years,” said Phil. “It seems like we’ve operated everywhere but Boston, and we’re hoping that Boston is going to be welcoming to us.”

​Phil described the still-unnamed Newbury Street café as an “elevated concept,” which he likened to ‘Witchcraft – Crafted’s now-defunct fast casual sandwich-shop chain which started in New York City in 2003 and grew to once include nearly 20 other locations, including in Las Vegas and San Francisco. (The Boston restaurant will need to settle on a DBA [i.e. “doing business as”] name before filing its application with the city, said Dennis Quilty, the applicant’s attorney.)

The Newbury Street café would offer seating for around 70 patrons inside and an additional 10 patrons on the patio. Its proposed hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

The proposed restaurant will offer breakfast; lunch, including salads and sandwiches; and light dinner options, such as charcuterie, after 4 p.m., with all dishes expected to cost no more than $22 each.

“We’re not doing fine dining in this location,” added Phil. “The idea is light bites, and to develop a coffee-centric brand that we hope has power to go beyond Boston.”

The applicant is still seeking a beer, wine, and cordials license for the proposed café, said Quilty, which they would need before filing with the city.

Like Caffe Nero before it, the new café would use the rear alley for trash removal, said Quilty, while trash would be stored in a dumpster in the alley. Deliveries would be made via the back alley as well, he added.

The applicant has yet to schedule hearing dates with either the city’s Licensing Board or the Zoning Board of Appeal, said Quilty, and they also intends to hold a city-sponsored abutters meeting on the proposal beforehand.

On a third application, the commission heard from a representative for Rooted In, a recreational cannabis dispensary at 331 Newbury St., regarding that business’s request to extend its closing time from the current 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Rooted In had its grand opening on Newbury Street on Dec. 18 of last year, following a Dec. 6 soft opening, said Brian Keith, one of the business owners, although this followed a two-year process in the community leading up to their opening.

Data from Rooted In’s first three months in business on Newbury Street showed a huge uptick in sales in the evening hours after customers get off work, said Keith, while the requested later hours would likely benefit “residents from the neighborhood who are thankful we’re open as late as we are.”

Keith also assured committee members that the requested later hours wouldn’t impact deliveries and made a commitment to NABB that the business wouldn’t schedule deliveries after 10 p.m.

Another nearby recreational cannabis dispensary, Ayr at 827 Boylston St., currently closes at 8 p.m. nightly, but it could also request extended hours, said Elliott Laffer, chair of NABB’s board of directors.

Additionally, the Copley Connection, a recreational cannabis dispensary proposed for 551 Boylston St., has requested an 11 p.m. closing time, said Laffer, but NABB has opposed both this application and the proposed closing time.

Keith said Rooted In hasn’t requested a hearing with the Boston Cannabis Board yet regarding the proposed extended hours.

Meanwhile, Laffer told all three applicants he would get back to them following the March 7 meeting of NABB’s Executive Committee regarding feedback to their respective applications.

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