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Aug 7, 2011 11:28 AM

What's the future of Towne?

Lyon's group wants out?

Shire on the chopping block?

It's so slow that the floor/bar staff got raises because they aren't making enough in tips?

Bar and kitchen programs becoming more "crowd pleasing" for the masses?

Firing employees when they give notice?

This is just a small portion of what I've heard over the past few weeks and it all came as no surprise. Once the initial excitement of the opening wore off the traffic has steadily declined. I've talked to only one person who is actually pleased with this place.

I'm calling it: by spring next year Towne Stove and Spirits will be a glorified Summer Shack.


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  1. We had drinks at the bar on the ground floor last winter and what is most memorable is the staff kept holding the door to the plaza open in January so it was misery sitting at the bar. Probably did the same thing during the heat wave.

    1. I can see a Lyons Group joint reconcepting (see Mass Ave / 94 Mass Ave / Mass Ave Tavern), but I can't recall an instance when they pulled out of a big venture in under a couple of years. I imagine their business plans anticipate a long payback.

      I have to say I've been less than thrilled with Towne, think it's kinda pricey for what it is, and have had a couple of miserable flops there; I called their porchetta one of the worst dishes I ate all last year. The front bar always seems to be packed, but I hate that crowd, always retreat to the quieter rear one, which I've found to be doing decent business even on weeknights.

      I guess the big upstairs dining room must not be filling seats. It's probably been a very slow summer for a lot of upscale places, given the usual summer exodus of money to vacation homes and the generally dreadful economy. Did they ever get their patio open?

      I'd expect autumn and the return of convention traffic will help a bit. There's a lot of new competition in the mid-range and high end -- I've been surprised by the brisk pace of new openings in the past year. More than one industry observer has predicted a pending contraction in that segment, and as long as unemployment remains high, that notion is not difficult to credit.

      1. the lyons group did not get to be the lyons group by making bad investments. they are not johnny-come-latelys to boston and knew what they were getting into with lydia. there is no way they will walk from a $12-million project, nor would they expect to recoup that in less than a year. it's a very big ship and it's not going to turn on a dime, although i have heard rumors of changing the theme. not from anybody close to the source.

        if anybody here remembers ambrosia, that place was pronounced at death's door for about a decade before finally shuttering. patrick lyons has more business accumen in his pinky fingernail than 200 tony ambroses.

        i was there thursday and the place was bustling. we sat in the back bar and i watched a steady stream of folks climbing the stairs for the dining room and both bars were quite busy. yes, the patio was open, mcslim, lol. that being said, the lobster popovers were abysmal. like rubbery french toast with overcooked lobster bits. i was so soured by those i had a tough time picking a main. the cod with pork belly was outstanding. the wine program leaves much to be desired. the free potato chips, adorable in those little containers, were totally soggy and stale.

        the place is a work in progress.

        anybody i knew personally who worked at towne for the opening is gone.

        and fwiw, it's common to fire restaurant workers as soon as they give notice. it prevents the possibility of theft and unreliability.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hotoynoodle

          I'm so relieved to see someone else who had the lobster popovers here! My friend and I went a few months ago and decided to splurge on these to start, and they were completely lifeless. My feeling is, if you're working with components like lobster and buttery dough, the outcome should be pretty fantastic, but it was just a bad popover with some tasteless lobster meat stuffed inside.

        2. I had a late dinner there last winter (just some hamburger sliders, which were fine). I was surprised how busy it was at 10PM on a cold Thursday night.