WGBH has been over in the good ol’ 02135 (that’s Brighton for you muggles out there) for a little over ten years now. For a while it was just us, New Balance and a few other mid-size organizations. But these days, business is booming in the area now operating under the moniker "Boston Landing". From new practice spaces for the Bruins and Celtics, to apartment high rises, the face of Guest Street has had a complete makeover. And while all of our new neighbors are pretty cool, we're especially excited about a few special ones – namely, the restaurants and cafés that are already opening their doors.
But, it’s not just the fresh retail space that’s drawing these new eateries in. As James Derosier, co-founder of Kohi Coffee put it: “[It] was really exciting for us in the sense that it was kind of a developing neighborhood. Kind of a community within a community.”
It was a theme that held true throughout our visits down Guest Street. While their new storefronts were great opportunities, each place agreed – it was the community that brought them in. As Thomas Keane of Flatbread Company, and Josh Meideros of Rail Stop Restaurant and Bar respectively weighed in, “Brighton itself has so much history, it inspired us to want to be part of this community,” and “the people [of] Brighton… are very important for us.” What’s more, Emily Kanter, co-owner of the soon-to-open Cambridge Naturals told us that “the developer, NB Development Group… they’re really aware of the importance of independent, locally-owned brick and mortar retail to a community.”
It’s a beautiful day in the (new) neighborhood, to be sure.
For your business meetings — Rail Stop Restaurant and Bar
“[Rail Stop] was named to commemorate the return of rail service to the Allston-Brighton area… we really wanted to honor the timeless culture and tradition of the community,” General Manager Josh Meideros tells us. “You’ll see this throughout the interior design of the restaurant which include barrel-vaulted ceilings, a train-like resemblance of the bar (complete with a smokestack!) antique globe chandeliers, [and] vintage boxcar inspired seats.”
Don’t be fooled – this doesn’t mean this place for your train-spotter friends. Rather, the design of Rail Stop seems to be inspired by the golden age of American railroading, bearing a strong resemblance to a smoking room or lounge from the turn of the century, mixed in with some funky, modern touches that really make it sing. And this blend of styles extends beyond the dining room, to the kitchen, where Executive Chef Jonathan Schick works his magic.
“Out of our scratch kitchen we offer a mix of modern and classic New England cuisine including dry-aged steaks, fresh local seafood, and ‘comfort food done well’,” Meideros says. “Our bar program embodies the golden age of cocktails and spirits, but with our own unique twist.”
His favorite? The Old Fashioned, which is made with the exacting attention to detail that practically guarantees a delicious drink.
“We make our own sugar cubes, our own bitters, and our own cherries. We pit our fresh cherries and sit them in vanilla cordial, vodka and sugar,” Meideros begins. “The sugar cube is muddled into the bitters and then dissolved into Bourbon. Ice is then added and stirred to slightly dilute and chill. [And] an orange peel is used to express the citrus oil downward and give the drink the perfect touch.”
If Old Fashioned’s aren’t your cup of whiskey, never fear. Rail Stop has a myriad of other drinks to tempt you with, including the only barrel-aged cocktail wall in New England!
“Quality and presentation is really important to us,” Medeiros tells us. “We want to be the friendliest restaurant in Boston and to have our guests come back on a consistent basis.”
We think we just might.
96 Guest St., Brighton, 617-254-0044, railstopboston.com
For a night out with the kids/girls/boys/other — Flatbread Company
What’s a neighborhood without a bowling alley? While the All-Bright borough boasts multiple gyms, pool halls, skating rinks and even a couple karaoke clubs, this classic pastime has been missing from the area for a while now. But no more – The Flatbread Company, which you know and love from their Somerville location, has moved in. And like Rail Stop, they bring with them a fabulous sense of style.
“Our bar wood is sourced from Western Mass. Our lanes are built by the same guys who built/rebuilt the Somerville ones.” Thomas Keane, the Director of Franchise Development at Flatbread starts in. “Our artwork comes from friends of mine and the founders in New Hampshire… The lights are made by another friend of ours, Mike Stanek. He custom makes all the lights for us, including all these cool candlepin ones. And the tables were handmade in Georgetown.”
Their dedication to the region is impressive – and you know how much we love those that support local arts. But as we continue to talk to Keane, it quickly becomes clear that their appreciation for locality extends from production to produce.
“We try to source a good amount of the food locally. It’s the kitchen manager’s job to go out and build those relationships, find new farms, and find farms that are using sustainable practices.” Keane smiles. “It’s just as important for us to be local as it is to be organic or all natural.”
This commitment shows in the quality of their flatbreads. Baked in two big, open ovens located just behind the alleys, their pies are crisp and flavorful. And while we won’t say that a pizza is healthy for you, these are probably as healthy as you can get, sporting ingredients like free-range chicken, nitrate-free (and still yummy) pepperoni, and house-made sausage. But when each item on the menu looks better than the last, what are you to do? Ask the staff, of course.
“The Mopsy’s Kahlua Pork Pie. It’s fantastic,” Keane declares. “It’s a recipe from Hawaii with barbecue mango sauce, pulled pork, red onions, and pineapple. It’s just awesome, kind of spicy – it’s just my favorite.”
Between great pizza and candlepin bowling, you’ll want to be sure to reserve those lanes before you head on over – as Keane says, “It’s relaxed, its comfortable – it’s for everybody.”
76 Guest St., Brighton, 617-903-4595, bowlbrighton.com
For your afternoon break — Kohi Coffee Company (pictured above)
We’ve been pretty lucky in Brighton, with a Dunkies, a Starbucks, and plenty of awesome independent coffee shops and patisseries to serve our various caffeine needs. But to be honest, there was always something missing for us from the café scene – namely, a truly great cappuccino, rich and bold and earthy. Not to say some of our establishments don’t make good cappuccini – they do – but they never quite hit that café-in-Rome taste.
That’s where Kohi Coffee Company comes in. They may have just opened their doors on Guest Street, but they’ve been plying their trade in Provincetown since 2014. This time has allowed them to perfect their goals.
“We’re really focused on high quality craft and the origins of coffee, and presenting it in a way that’s approachable for a consumer to enjoy a really good cup of coffee every single time,” James Derosier, co-founder of Kohi tells me. “We aim to really offer a more specialized and focused level of service and engagement with the guest…I think we provide a higher level of service so that people can really appreciate the coffee that they’re getting.”
It’s not just their coffee that we appreciate. Kohi’s Brighton location introduced a food menu to their offerings, from salads to pastries and more. And their sandwich menu includes some truly creative options, like a vegan eggplant bacon sandwich, and a ham and cheese with cole slaw.
The expert coffee and creative food menu isn’t the only thing that sets Kohi apart. They offer an “experience bar” at their counter, an area where their baristas use some of their more interesting brewing methods to create their bespoke beverages.
“Brighton has the opportunity for different brew methods for people who want to kind of linger and learn and watch the brewing take place,” Derosier says. “[We] do Chemex, Siphon, Aero Press, and other pour over methods, so it’s something a little bit unique and different… [and] our plan is to do various events that are open to the public for them to come in and experience coffee or tea or learn more about roasting.”
We can’t wait.
130 Guest St., Brighton, 617-903-4721, kohicoffee.com
For your snacks and supplements — Cambridge Naturals
The outlier on this list, Cambridge Naturals is one part natural food store and two parts holistic health emporium. Opened in 1974, the store delivers extensive herbal supplements and beauty products alongside healthy snacks and drinks – from Badger Balm to Be Well local honey, herbal teas and bulk spices to neti pots.
“A big part of our mission, our vision, is to be a health and wellness asset to our local community,” second-generation owner and operator Emily Kanter tells us. “More and more people are starting to understand the value of preventative health care and dealing with their health issues holistically. We really seek to be that asset to our community, we train our staff really carefully and they’re highly knowledgeable.”
An admirable mission, to be sure – but how do they plan to get that community through the door?
“I’ve been thinking about a lot lately,” Kanter ponders. “There’s been all this talk in the news about loneliness, with the UK hiring a minster of loneliness and how we’re dealing with that ourselves in the U.S… brick and mortar retail can survive by being an antidote to that and being the community. So, our strategy around the events ties into that, creating a way for people to connect and get to know each other and learn and feel a sense of community.”
It takes a lot to bring a community together, but those are waters that Kanter and her husband Caleb – her co-owner and operator – have experience navigating. Customers loyal to their current Cambridge location travel up to 20 miles to get there, heading in when the shops in their own location don't have what they're looking for.
"We’re tied in to the greater Boston community – these are our people... One of the most common comments we get from customers is 'oh, you know I had such a wonderful time talking to so and so staff person.' And that’s something that’s really hard to get online or in any typical big retailer," says Kanter. "We want to offer [that] to a greater population."
Her enthusiasm is catching, and we find ourselves asking after her favorite products in the store. True to form, Kanter gives a delighted laugh before excitedly launching into her response. "I would say, I really love ashwagandha. It’s a root and it has benefits for both stress and energy… I’m an introvert at heart, so it helps me [with] being in an extroverted position all the time."
We'll have to try that out – right on our way to their kombucha wall!
90 Guest St., Brighton, 617-492-4452 [Cambridge Location], cambridgenaturals.com