Justin (of the Models Group) plays his cards right at City Bar, in the Lenox Hotel
Peter McCarthy and Michael Bissanti playing 'Trust Me, I'm Good at This' at Perking Tom's
ABOUT BOSTON’S history, architecture, and political clout — what really
makes Boston a world-class city is its nightlife. We have an incredible
wealth of cultural riches at our disposal: restaurants, nightclubs,
museums, art galleries, comedy clubs, performance spaces, music halls,
sporting events, galas, benefits, and parties of all sorts. These
things are our business, and we know them better than anyone. And we
also know the people who drive this nightlife culture: they are the
What makes a player? In the nightlife realm, we define
a player as a person who has the clout, influence, imagination, and
guts to get the job done. A nightlife player is someone who is
immensely successful, yes, but also someone who helps drive his or her
entire industry, both through direct influence and leading by example. Players are not only on the scene — they make the scene.
the movers and shakers on this list play with the concepts of power and
influence, we thought it only fitting that we should ask them to play
with us. By and large, these are serious people who take their work,
and their roles in the nightlife community, very seriously. We thought
we would shake things up a bit by asking all participants who were
photographed for this, our fourth annual "Nightlife Players" issue, to
show us their playful side in the photos. It’s a nice juxtaposition
with how seriously committed they are to making Boston after dark a
better place to play.
Jasper White’s Summer Shack
it be too much to call Jasper the new Julia? After all, this is a man
who, with his eponymous restaurant, introduced many New Englanders to
their native cuisine in the ’80s. Currently, he heads three Summer
Shack restaurants (Back Bay, Alewife, and Mohegan Sun), and serves as
the authority on New England cuisine and seafood. A legend walks among
us, and his name is Jasper.
Michael Conlon, Michael Bissanti, and Peter McCarthy
Conlon is a partner in the following five establishments: Peking Tom’s,
the Blarney Stone, the 21st Amendment, the Paramount, and West, which
will be opening in West Roxbury later in April. Michael Bissanti is in
for a piece of Peking Tom’s, the Paramount, and the Blarney Stone.
Peter McCarthy owns part of Peking Tom’s and the 21st Amendment. Got
all that? What you really need to know is that these gentlemen are a
collective rising force in Boston nightlife — and that they are all
truly nice guys who have a lot of fun with their businesses.
Barbara Lynch and Garrett Harker
No. 9 Park, B&G Oysters, the Butcher Shop
Lynch’s Southie-girl-turned-restaurant-goddess story is the stuff of movies — indeed, the 2002 documentary film Amuse Bouche: A Chef’s Tale
is about her life. While No. 9 remains on everyone’s list of the top
restaurants in the country, the newer B&G Oysters and the Butcher
Shop are what currently have the town talking about their style,
panache, and, naturally, the quality of their food.
Back Bay Restaurant Group
Back Bay Restaurant Group’s holdings include 36 restaurants along the
Northeast seaboard, including 15 Joe’s American Bar & Grills, 14
Papa Razzis, and four Charley’s — wow! Throw in Abe & Louie’s, one
of Boston’s most renowned and successful steak houses, and the Atlantic
Fish Company, one of Boston’s most renowned seafood restaurants, and
you can see that Sarkis is all about one thing: success.
Locke-Ober and Excelsior
is known around the country for her bold approach in the kitchen — she
has opened a lot of minds in her career, from her time cooking with
Jasper White at Seasons, at her old restaurant Biba, and now at
Excelsior and Locke-Ober. But don’t mistake Shire’s boldness for
recklessness; she does not turn her back on classic preparations or
service. Rather, she jazzes them up to meet her supremely high
Gordon and Fiona Hamersley
and Fiona were pioneers in bringing modern bistro culture to Boston,
and to this day Hamersley’s still sets the bar for quality and charm.
And you can now add "cookbook author" to Gordon’s résumé (Fiona pitched
in with wine advice), as his fantastic Bistro Cooking at Home is currently on bookstore shelves.
Tremont 647, Sister Sorel, Rouge, and Kestral (in Providence)
Husbands is a bad-ass chef, a successful restaurateur, a barbecue
champion, and perhaps most important of all, deeply involved in
charities like Operation Frontline. He’s a chef with the clout to get
people out to his events.
Stephanie’s on Newbury
Stephanie picked a perfect location for her upscale-comfort-food
restaurant (at the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets), but her
customers wouldn’t keep coming back if the food and service weren’t
great. This is a woman who commands respect.
Chef/owner, Chez Henri
is, in our opinion, one of our city’s most underappreciated chefs, as
his talent and vision are truly extraordinary. One group of people who
do fully appreciate the man’s talents: his peers in the industry, who
continually sing his praises.
Blackfin Chop House
knock-your-socks-off chef has shown his confidence and maturity with
the Blackfin concept, which is the marriage of a high-end steak house
with a superb seafood/sushi restaurant. Blackfin Chop House does not
feature the meticulous and sometimes outrageous preparation of
Ambrose’s now-defunct Ambrosia (RIP), but it is perhaps even more
satisfying in its relative simplicity.
Jody Adams, Karen Haskell, Gary Sullivan, and Michela Larson
Sapphire Group owns and operates Rialto, Blu, and Noir, but it consults
for a wide range of restaurants both old and new. Adams is the
award-winning chef and cookbook author, Haskell the financial brains,
Sullivan the operations maestro, and Larson the guiding force (and
local legend, based on her old restaurant, Michela’s).
Holly Heslop and Charlie Christopher
husband-and-wife team owns some of Cambridge’s finest dining and
live-music venues, including Christopher’s, Toad, West Side Lounge,
Cambridge Common, and the Lizard Lounge. The revitalization of the
strip of Mass Ave between Harvard and Porter Squares owes much to them.
is Boston’s arbiter of hip, as the smashing success of his Pho
République restaurant clearly demonstrates. Pho has been a model for
many a restaurateur wishing to meld elements of fine dining, ethnic
cuisine, and cool lounge.
The Good Life (Downtown and Cambridge) and Centro
O’Neill is a savvy restaurateur who knows the business inside and out — don’t you wish you’d thought of the Good Life concept?
Legal Sea Foods
CEO of Legal, Berkowitz is the man behind the empire. Legal is known
far and wide for its commitment to freshness, its revolutionary
processing and testing procedures, and its overall dedication to
quality. And with 26 restaurants (and counting) in seven states,
Berkowitz deals in quantity and quality.
The Living Room
Living Room has quietly become not only a hot afterwork spot (it’s
close to the Financial District), but also a real destination for North
Enders looking for something decidedly without red sauce. As owner,
Hauck has nurtured the Living Room into a full-fledged Boston hot spot.
East Coast Grill
man — and the restaurant — that launched a thousand chefs (well, maybe
a couple of dozen). Schlesinger pretty much invented the casual upscale
restaurant, and he remains a mentor for many in the business.
is a player because he is at the top, talent-wise, of a very demanding
and competitive profession. Any number of hungry and curious
journalists and chefs can be seen eating at Clio on a regular basis.
That’s because Oringer’s food pushes the envelope of innovation and
Seth Woods and Jeff Gates
is the chef/owner, Gates the GM/partner (of Union), and together they
make the Aquitaine Group (whose holdings include the restaurants
Aquitaine, Aquitaine Bis, Metropolis, the Armani Café, and Union) one
of the most powerful and respected restaurant conglomerates in the
city. All of which would mean nothing, of course, if they weren’t
devoted to providing a top-notch dining experience at all locations.
L’Espalier and Sel de la Terre
the chef/owner of L’Espalier and the co-owner (with chef Geoff Gardner)
of Sel de la Terre, is lauded by his peers as one of the most
discriminating chefs and restaurateurs in the nation.
is the driving force behind the restaurants Rangoli, Tanjore, Bhindi
Bazaar, and Rani Indian Bistro. They are all restaurants that up the
ante for authentic, highly regionalized Indian food.
Hemant Chowdhry and Amrik Pabla
is the team behind such high-end establishments as Kashmir, Mantra,
Diva, Bukhara, Café of India, Shalimar, and the Kebab Factory — talk
about having a lot on your plate! These are not your corner curry
joints; they are lovely restaurants where attention to detail and
quality are paramount.
Vinod and Shikha Kapoor
husband-and-wife team owns and operates the venerable Harvard Square
restaurant Bombay Club, as well as Kebab-N-Kurry and newcomer Masala
Deborah Hughes and Mary-Catherine Deibel
Co-owners, UpStairs on the Square
playful creativity of UpStairs is part of what defines the Boston
restaurant scene on the national level. Executive chef Hughes and
hostess-with-the-mostest Deibel are also very generous in donating
their services to myriad charity events.
Meritage and Boston Wine Festival
is another of those chefs whose names might carry more weight on the
national scene than on the local one, and that is a shame. Meritage is
one of the best — and most forward-thinking — restaurants around, and
the Boston Wine Festival has become a hallmark event within the New
England food community.
XV Beacon, the Federalist, Mistral, and Teatro
don’t come to own a hotel like XV Beacon — and three of the city’s best
restaurants — without being a player, and Roiff certainly qualifies.
The Federalist itself is a players’ haven, what with its elegant
atmosphere, incredible food, and one of the country’s top wine lists.
Roiff’s partner in Mistral and Teatro, executive chef Jamie Mammano,
also plays a key role in the success of those two restaurants.