Eater.com caught up with Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer (Toro, Coppa) at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Head over there to read the full interview, which includes lessons on maintaining a great working relationship, thoughts on potential future expansion of Toro, and lots more. But first, peek at a few extra tidbits right here:
On swirling rumors of a new project in Downtown Crossing:
Jamie Bissonnette: I moved to Downtown Crossing, but we don't have any projects.
Ken Oringer: But it's exciting what's happening downtown.
JB: But also, we're friends with a lot of developers and realtors, and because we're in Boston, we want to always see what's going on. Whenever there is a new project, somebody might say, "Hey, come look at this; what do you think we should do?" If we're down that way we might go meet a friend and walk through a construction site that might be a restaurant and say, "Yeah, this is really cool," but...
KO: That's how we dream. We'll walk through a space and say, "Dude, we got to open up a Sri Lankan momo concept in that one," or whatever. Then we get excited, we look at spaces, and that's how ideas come to us sometimes too. We'll just feel something sometimes in a space. We're always entertaining and looking at things, and you never know.
On Toro Boston (which now has a sibling in New York):
JB: One thing that I'm really proud of with our staff is Toro Boston turning ten this year. We're ten years old, and a lot of restaurants, when they get to ten years old, they don't change enough to stay relevant — or they've changed so much that they're not the same restaurant. I'm really proud, and it's not our doing; it's not KO and me. It's our staff and our team pushing that restaurant in the ways that make it grow, in the ways that our regulars come back, and new people come into the city like it. People can come back [after] five years and say, "This restaurant is just as good as I remember it." Restaurants never stay the same when people say that. If you're not getting better, you're inherently getting worse. I'm just really proud of our teams.
KO: And again, as Jamie mentioned with the ten years, our neighborhood also has just embraced us in Boston where we have amazing friendships with so many people that have supported us for so long.
On how Boston's changed over the last 10 years:
KO: Man, there's been, like, hundreds of restaurants. I mean, so many people now are just making the plunge, and our city has gotten so much better in terms of just these little restaurants and all sorts of neighborhoods — like Sarma. It's in the middle of nowhere. You'd never think a restaurant could work there, and I love how they had the balls to do it. They realize now food is so popular that people will go anywhere to eat good, unusual food.
JB: Not just the restaurant industry, but I think Boston has grown so much in the 15 years I've lived there, just with the quality of the neighborhoods and the way that Mayor Menino and now Marty Walsh have really pushed to get things cleaner, better, more efficient, public transportation. It's been great to see a city get cleaner, greener, and nicer.