In August, the Oyster Club at the Heritage proudly opened in Boston Park Square. TriMark had the privilege to partner with them on many of their initiatives including stunning custom tableware. We had the opportunity to sit down with Owner & Chef, Chris Parsons and General Manager, Chris Miksis, to talk about the restaurant opening experience and the inspiration behind their maritime eatery.
Q&A with General Manager, Chris Miksis
What a huge accomplishment, could you tell us your view of the opening?
“It went great. Openings are always a lot of work, but we hired an enormous number of talented people and the majority of them stayed on with us.”
Please share the planning of your opening and the important considerations.
“I know Parsons had this vision of the restaurant for a couple years. As for the actual hiring, you want to have your management team in place upwards of a month to five weeks before. And then, you pretty much start hiring your hourlies about two and a half weeks before opening. In this case, just because of the nature here in Boston (with the hotel and Casino opening), there normally would be thousands of employees but many are working there so we started a little earlier than two weeks.”
“We had a couple job fairs – the last one we were able to grab our last 15 employees which made a significant difference. From there, it’s off to training. We had six long days of orientation at the Revere Hotel and then gave them the weekend off. That next Monday, in early July, we jumped right into it. There were a couple nights of soft opening and from there The Oyster Club took off.”
Are there things that you would have done differently?
“The more openings I have been involved in, the more I’ve learned that there’s always elements you could tweak. I think the more organized you can be, you can always be more organized, the more successful you’re going to be in that (pre-opening) timeframe. Organization is the key for any restaurant opening.”
Is there any aspect of the project which was unanticipated?
“Construction issues caused us to be pushed back a few days. We expected to have our soft-opening on Monday and Tuesday but postponed to Thursday and Friday of that first week. To accommodate, we spread the training out. The patience from our staff was a virtue. A lot of them had been through openings before but some hadn’t so it was a learning process for everyone. Overall, the whole process can be a bit chaotic.”
What advice would you offer an aspiring restaurateur aiming to open an establishment.
“Hire, hire, hire and train, train, train! It never stops even after day one. You must keep plugging the right people. Business is all about the people. To be successful, you need employees that really care and are hospitable.”
Q&A with the Owner & Chef, Chris Parsons
What is the source of inspiration for this restaurant?
“The whole concept is a classic New England restaurant that can stand the test of time. I’ve always been inspired by typical French bistros – they have a clean and fresh feel to them with an everlasting quality and that’s what I wanted to achieve here.”
How did you decide on custom plating?
“One of the characteristics I like about brasseries is that they frequently have custom plateware. I decided that would be a great way to go for our tabletop too. Being a seafood restaurant, having bone china – the very bright white with contrast of blue and the logo on our plates really achieves the elegant, timeless look we imagined.”
Is there a favorite dish that you love to make and plate?
“It changes all the time, it has been a pleasure to plate on all the bone china and especially the monogramed plates. Everything just plates up beautifully, as the dishes pop off the white china. The dishes from the simply grilled section are ultimately my favorite – the plates allow the food to shine on their own.”
What served as inspiration for the menu?
“Every dish is inspired by growing up in New England and by the seaside. There were so many experiences to take from like fishing, digging for clams, barbeques and clambakes. They all contributed to the general inspiration of the menu and the desire to have a nautical-influenced restaurant in Boston. Most of the fish we serve is local and highlights our home waters. I feel as though the seafood in New England is the most important food element of the area and us being right here in Boston allows us to showcase it.”