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Five Years of Fine Dining at Deuxave

Chris Coombs reflects on Deuxave's first five years, from opening an upscale restaurant in a bad economy to learning how to trust and empower his team.

Chris Coombs
Chris Coombs
Katie Chudy for Eater

Congratulations on five years; that's quite an accomplishment. Do you have any memories from that first night?

I do. I remember the first night. I was incredibly nervous, and I wasn't even sure that anyone was going to show up. I remember being so nervous that at one point, I even locked myself in the bathroom and was just praying that everything would go alright and that we would be able to do everything that we were supposed to do. Contrary to what happened at Boston Chops on opening night when 500 people showed up, the first night that we opened here at Deuxave, it was very tranquil. We fed about 30 or 40 people, and it was smooth and controlled, and I was so grateful that we were able to get the place opened. It was a much different economy then and a much more challenging time.

What was it like to open an upscale restaurant in a downturned economy?

The economic climate was very different when we opened in 2010, and I think that people were still really guarded with how they spent their money. Now, in 2015, we've seen vast improvements, not only from a fiscal standpoint, but also in people's comfort level going out to eat. I think that in 2010, people just didn't know if the economy was going to tank again, and there was this air of uncertainty. If you think about how many restaurants open now, there are so many, but back in 2010, there weren't.

Deuxave was the second of your three restaurants; what changed in your life between opening Dbar and opening Deuxave?

There was a lot of complexity in having multiple restaurants. With one restaurant, you can almost do everything yourself, but that's not necessarily healthy for any entrepreneur (or human in general). I think to be a successful restaurateur you need to learn to really trust your team and empower them to make decisions for you when you can't be there. Year one at Deuxave, I was still of that mentality and mindset that I could do everything. I was still butchering every protein that came in at both restaurants, and that lasted about a year before I realized that I was operating like a crazy person, and I needed to learn to trust my team.

The chef that really changed my life my chef de cuisine, Adrienne Mosier. She and I really have a yin and yang balance, and we look at food the same way. She was really the first chef I worked with whom I fully trusted. She taught me to be a better chef and a better person and a better operator, even. We've been working together for four years, and we're hoping to open a project for her soon, and times are good.

What's changed at Deuxave since you first opened five years ago?

It's been a constant evolution. Most recently I've seen a higher and higher demand for tasting menus, so this year I decided to finally put tasting menus on our menu. In the past, guests would request them, and it was certainly something we'd try to accommodate. But we've really seen the demand for that type of experience, and I think that's been true for a lot of places in Boston. We still have about the same menu structure as when we first opened, but I think adding in different tasting menus has been the major difference.

We've also really evolved in our wine and cocktail program. We have a tremendous bar manager, Chris O'Neil, who is just really focused on craft cocktails. Along with our head bartender, Emily Warren, we're doing some really exciting things with cocktails where when we first opened, that really wasn't a focus. We opened as a very wine-centric restaurant, and that's still the main focus, but the cocktails have really started to have their place at the restaurant.

Our wine program has also really evolved. I think we opened with over 200 selections of wine, and now we're up to around 700 selections. We just earned our second award from Wine Spectator, which puts us in the elite company of about 900 hundred restaurants.

Are there any particularly memorable moments that stand out for you over the past five years?

Opening a restaurant can be a very scary thing. For me, the moment that I felt we'd be okay was when Devra First gave us three stars in the Globe. We went from feeding 40 or 50 people a night to feeding over a hundred a night, and we really haven't looked back since. That Globe review was a real turning point for us, and we started to book out in advance. I feel like we came into a location where no one had really succeeded and people said it was cursed and that I was a fool to do things here, but it's been a great location, and it's changed a lot. There's been a lot of development around here over the past couple of years. I had put every penny that I had into this restaurant, and there were't many pennies, but my business partner and I really believed in the vision, and we've tried to stay consistent while evolving it and keeping it exciting.

What do the next five years look like for Deuxave?

For Deuxave in particular I'm excited about refinement. I'm excited to continue to make a substantial impact here on the dining scene in Boston. I feel very grateful. This restaurant has hosted engagements, weddings, anniversaries, and there have been a lot of special things that have happened here. I think that it is a special place. I think that the definition of fine dining has evolved, and I really feel like Deuxave is a great example of what modern day fine dining really is. We've had a lot of talent come through here, and I've been excited to see our chefs and front of the house go on to do incredible things. I look forward to continuing to make an impactful difference in the Boston culinary scene, and at the end of the day, I just want to make people happy.


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