When Matthew Gaudet and his team closed West Bridge in December 2015, he set his sights on the North Shore for his next project. Now, he's nailing down some final tasks at SuperFine, which will open very soon at 25 Union St. in Manchester-by-the-Sea.
"Right now we’re just finishing up a couple details, finishing organizing and getting stuff in place," Gaudet told Eater. He’s working with Paul Emmett, another West Bridge alum, and they have a health inspection set up for the end of this week. If all goes well, the restaurant will be ready to welcome customers after that.
Gaudet said he had always planned to move north and to do a more casual restaurant than West Bridge. He sold his home in Cambridge last week and will be moving to Manchester, and he said it was pure coincidence that the restaurant space he landed was in the same town.
He looked at spaces in Beverly and Gloucester, but the Union Street space — a former Coffee Cup Restaurant, as Boston Magazine reported — suited the plan he had in mind to serve pizza and West Bridge’s classic ribs.
"I was talking to Jeff Pond from Area Four about my thoughts and how I wanted to move north," Gaudet said. Pond told him to look out for a Marsal & Sons pizza oven, and the Coffee Cup happened to have one.
"This space came up, and it was in better shape than I think anybody expected," Gaudet said. But it was also a longer renovation than expected — before it was a restaurant, it housed a bank and a hardware store, so there was plenty to tear away.
"It was just another layer of uselessness and Band-Aids and bad ideas, so we had to undo 60 to 70 years of bad choices," Gaudet said. He scraped off six or seven layers of paint in some places and hired electricians to do a complete rewiring, so now everything is up to snuff and energy efficient.
"And it won’t burn down because there are no random loose wires," he said.
The oven will be a huge asset for the restaurant’s menu, which will consist of five house pizzas and a make-your-own option. Superfine will use cheese from Wolf Meadow Farm in Amesbury, meat from New England Charcuterie in Waltham, and vegetables from surrounding farms. There will be an "abundant array" of vegetable dishes, Gaudet said, plus a handful of salads, four meat dishes, and four fish dishes. The menu will be small but flexible, changing with the ingredients available each season.
"Farms around here are fantastic," according to Gaudet, who said the collaborative spirit fuels the philosophy of the Cape Ann region, making business much more community-based and much less competitive. That’s his goal with SuperFine: to serve the community, all the time.
"I want it to be some place where the community can come and go as they wish on a regular basis," he said, rather than being a destination for special occasions. The restaurant will have counter service and will be open from 3 to 10 p.m. in the beginning, eventually expanding the hours.
"Once we get the chops down, we’re gonna go to lunch pretty quickly," Gaudet said. "Once we get staffed up and we have a feel for ourselves, I want to open for breakfast. I want the place to be open all day, all the time." The space is also prepared for takeout and delivery, and Gaudet wants to offer cooking classes and community workshops based around agriculture, sustainability, and wellness.
SuperFine has a midnight liquor license, and Gaudet brought in West Bridge’s former bar manager Alex Howell to advise on the bar program. He will do cocktail training with the staff this week to get ready for the opening and finalize the menu as he brings in food, beer, and wine to stock the restaurant and begin prep.
UPDATE: SuperFine opens on Wednesday, August 31 at 3 p.m.