Steve “Nookie” Postal — chef-owner of Commonwealth in Kendall Square, former executive chef of Fenway Park, and, yep, food television alum — has a bunch of new projects in the works: a cafe in Cambridge, a beer hall in Cambridge, and a cafe in Somerville. Plus, he quietly came onboard as a partner in Harvard Square’s Crema Cafe about a year and a half ago.
From early 2013 through late 2013, Postal wrote a weekly column here on Eater Boston, On the House, giving a no-holds-barred, behind-the-scenes look into the process of opening Commonwealth. (At the time, he was also planning to open a “Jew...ish” barbecue restaurant called Steinbones, which hasn’t yet come to pass, although people love to ask him about it. “I do hope to one day do it,” says Postal. “Possibly out by Alewife in a shipping container to start, but no definitive plans yet.”)
Tomorrow, Postal returns to Eater Boston to bring back On the House; he’ll be writing every other week, charting his adventures in keeping Commonwealth and Crema up and running while working to open the new cafes and beer hall, as well as keeping up with his life beyond the restaurants, including raising three young kids. Stay tuned for the first installment, and in the meantime, here’s the rundown on his projects.
There’s Commonwealth, of course, which is just over four years old now, chugging along in Kendall Square and serving comforting food made with local ingredients, from chicken pot pie to duck fat fries to fudgy brownie sundaes. For those who haven’t yet visited, Commonwealth is both a restaurant and a market: Go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; buy local goodies in the market; lounge on the giant patio outdoors (seasonally).
Then, there’s Crema Cafe, which turns 10 this year. Founded by Liza Shirazi and Marley Brush, the cozy, ever-crowded Brattle Street spot has been serving up an exceptional coffee program, baked goods made in-house, and more since opening back in 2008. Brush eventually decided to change careers, departing the cafe to go into social work, and through a variety of connections, Postal ended up stepping in as a new partner, helping to streamline the menu and thinking about potential expansion.
Postal was no stranger to 27 Brattle St.: Before Crema existed, back when the space was home to Au Bon Pain, he used to sit outside on the steps, and it’s there he made the decision to go to culinary school — as well as to live in Cambridge forever. Plus, he and Shirazi had already crossed paths in a variety of ways. Shirazi’s husband, Josh, is Postal’s milk man, and Shirazi’s brother, Jesse Baerkahn of Graffito SP, is the one who helped Postal find the space for Commonwealth. And through those connections, it was also at Crema Cafe where Postal held his first Steinbones pop-up.
As for the upcoming plans, Shirazi and Postal are opening two new cafes named Revival and a beer hall named Mothership. One Revival will be at 197 Elm St. in Somerville’s Davis Square, formerly Subway — but before that, the space was home to the original Bertucci’s, which featured a bocce court in the basement. (Unfortunately Revival will not have basement bocce.) The other Revival will be in a former Whole Foods space in an Alewife office building, facing the bike path, and the beer hall will be in the same building, with 10 taps, food, and lots of games. Postal will share more information about that game lineup in his first On the House installment tomorrow, but, spoiler alert: He doesn’t like pinball. There will not be pinball.
They’re shooting for April 2018 to begin opening things — probably the Alewife location of Revival first, followed by the beer hall, and then the Davis Revival.
The Revival cafes will be similar to Crema, Postal says — “same commitment to an amazing coffee program and a 100% from-scratch food program.” Expect to find salads, sandwiches, pastries, and more, with a focus on whole grains and allergen-friendly options.
While Postal has no plans to expand Commonwealth or Crema, he won’t count out the possibility of more Revival locations in the future. That said, he and Shirazi don’t intend to stick them everywhere, in any old place. Community is important; he and Shirazi would only open in locations where it really felt like Revival could be an integral part of the neighborhood. And as for Steinbones, well, keep an eye out for that hypothetical shipping container eventually, maybe.
More on Revival and Mothership tomorrow — and subsequent alternate Fridays — from Postal himself.