Since it opened in 2007, Cafeteria has been one of Boston’s most popular restaurants. The trendy Newbury Street spot serves a reliable, expansive menu and huge glasses of sangria, inside the decor is modern and sleek, and, in the summer, the spacious patio becomes the perfect vantage point for people watching. As Cafeteria celebrates its fifth anniversary and the opening of a brand new bar upstairs, we turn the spotlight on Demetri Tsolakis, the restaurant’s general manager.
Here’s what he had to say about Cafeteria’s recipe for success, the New York Yankee that loves this Boston restaurant and the plans for the joint anniversary/expansion bash early next month.
Lux & Concord: Cafeteria is turning five, but with the recent opening of a new bar space upstairs, there are no signs of a slowdown. What has been the key to keeping the restaurant successful?
Demetri Tsolakis: Consistency in food, service and ambiance are all critical, as is staying up with restaurant trends like offering local ingredients and establishing a presence on social media. We are definitely able to recognize where we can improve and make it happen.
L&C: Why was the decision made to open the bar space? What’s the draw?
DT: In this case with the new bar, we needed more space than our eight-seat bar on the first level offered. The popularity of our drinks and $5 burger special at the bar led us to put a bar upstairs that can seat twelve. We will also be serving food until 1am after we launch on December 5. The $5 burger is very popular. It is a 4oz version of our Cafeteria Burger that is only available at the bar. Along with great bartenders and crafty drinks, it makes for the perfect night out. The new bar is warm, cozy and trendy at the same time. We used burnt wood on one half and chalkboard on the other–the chalkboard side displays some funny quotes and Cafeteria rules.
As the GM, what’s the best part about your job?
DT: The best part is definitely meeting new people. The job changes everyday and you never know what to expect. Another part I enjoy is the staff; we have become a family over the years.
L&C: What’s your favorite item on the menu?
DT: Being Greek, the Lamb Burger is definitely my favorite. It is our version of the famous Greek sandwich, the Gyro. It’s ground lamb topped with tzatziki, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, romaine lettuce and Feta cheese, served with parmesan fries.
L&C: Cool kids love Cafeteria. But really, who is the coolest person that has ever eaten there?
DT: We get celebrities coming to Cafeteria a lot. In the past year we had Katie Holmes, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Kanye West and Mark Wahlberg. Celtics and Patriots players also frequent the restaurant a lot. Derek Jeter is a regular and will always request “his” booth. They are all cool and interesting.
L&C: What’s the deal with the anniversary/grand opening party on December 5?
DT: On December 5. we will be celebrating our five year anniversary and the launch of our new bar. It will showcase our food and drinks and new bar space. We will send out invites, but stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook pages for the link to RSVP.