Bostonians shed quite a few tears earlier in the pandemic when restaurateur Garrett Harker’s Kenmore Square empire — late-night industry haunt Eastern Standard, upscale seafood restaurant Island Creek Oyster Bar, and cocktail gem the Hawthorne — permanently closed following a highly publicized dispute with the landlord. Insult was added to injury when it was announced that a New York-based restaurant group would take over the spaces, opening fairly similar concepts. (Those have not yet opened.) But good news for fans of Harker: He’s coming back to the neighborhood.
The companies behind mixed-use development Bower, located at 771 and 775 Beacon Street on the edge of Kenmore Square, announced today that Harker would open four food and beverage venues there by early 2023, spanning about 20,000 square feet and including three-season outdoor seating, which sounds reminiscent of Eastern Standard’s popular covered patio.
Harker and his crew don’t plan to announce many details until later this year, but they’re announcing now that — great news — Jackson Cannon will be at the helm of the beverage program. Cannon, who was opening bar manager of Eastern Standard, went on to open the Hawthorne with Harker in 2011. Eastern Standard alum Nemo Bolin will run the food side of the equation; Bolin first worked with Harker at No. 9 Park way back in the day before opening his own Providence restaurant, Cook & Brown Public House.
“From B&G Oysters to Eastern Standard to Row 34, I’ve loved harnessing the transformative power of hospitality to activate neighborhoods,” Garrett Harker said in today’s statement. “While there have been dark clouds in our industry the past two years, I’m as excited as ever to roll up my sleeves and dig in.”
Aside from these new projects, Harker is currently running Watertown hot spot Branch Line, known in part for rotisserie chicken, a killer beer list, and an excellent year-round patio, and Eastern Standard Provisions, which ships soft pretzels, Liege waffles, and accoutrements nationwide. In early 2021, the longtime partnership among Harker, Jeremy Sewall, Skip Bennett, and Shore Gregory — behind Island Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34 — split up, with Gregory and Sewall continuing to operate Row 34 and turning the remaining Island Creek Oyster Bar in Burlington, Massachusetts, into another Row 34. (Soon they’ll add another one in Cambridge, too.)
So while fans of the group won’t see a new Island Creek or Row 34 among these four forthcoming venues, Harker’s decades-long reputation for hospitality means that something exciting is surely in store.
Stay tuned for updates later this year.