New Restaurant Brass Cat Cafe Proposed by Tres Gatos, Centre Street Cafe, Casa Verde Team

The restaurant team behind Jamaica Plain’s Tres Gatos, Centre Street Cafe and Casa Verde is eyeing a fourth dining establishment in the neighborhood.

The new proposed restaurant would be called Brass Cat Cafe and be located at 3399 Washington St., which would seem to point to the Schell Printing building near the intersection with Green Street. The proposal is scheduled to be discussed at a Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council meeting Monday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. at Curtis Hall. According to the restaurant team, pending support from neighborhood associations related to the Washington Street corridor and the JPNC’s Public Service Committee, the city’s licensing board will likely decide later this month whether to approve the new restaurant’s application for a wines, malt beverages and liqueurs license.

“We are extremely grateful to our employees, restaurant peers, regulars, neighbors, guests, vendors and the JP and Boston community for your loyalty and outpouring of support for our neighborhood restaurants,” the owners said in a press release. “We look forward to partnering with all of you as we seek approval for Brass Cat Cafe.”

Additionally, at its Jan. 4 meeting, the city’s licensing board upgraded Centre Street Cafe to a wines, malt beverages and liqueurs license, which will allow the Italian restaurant to expand its dinner menu to include aperitifs and digestifs. Meanwhile, Casa Verde received an all-alcohol license, pending state approval, that will let the Mexican taqueria serve traditional margaritas, mezcal and a lineup of bourbons.

Jamaica Plain News

The dining room at Casa Verde

  • Marty

    Interesting. So they claim they can’t pay the back of the house more and tag 3% to the bill but they keep opening new restaurants.
    These guys act like the incoming administration, i.e, I lie but I’m not because I say I’m not As far as I’m concerned, anyone that eats at those restaurants is a fool.

    • Keith Harmon

      We claim we can’t close the wage gap without an alternative way to charge. It is well established that our business has razor thin margins. Our only mission is to fill market needs in the neighborhood, be a great place to work, offer a superior experience to guests, support local vendors and charitable organizations, and, yes generate profits for our own families. We’re not the best paid people in our organization, and we are lucky to have partnered with investors of similar philosophical positions. I know you’ll just say we’re lying, but we’re not and we’ve worked for a long time to build trust with our teams, our guests, our neighborhood, our vendors, and our investors (and life savings.) Obviously we haven’t been successful in your case, and I am sorry for that. Before you pass final judgement, please talk to any of our team members, the people at JPMF, or any other number of people and groups that we’ve worked hard to support.

      • Keith harmons dad

        You’re lying

        • Keith Harmon

          Thanks for showing your true colors. Shows a lot of class.

          • FrauncesT

            Speaking of class and true colors, you have the money to run 4 restaurants yet YOU WONT YOU PAY ANY OF YOUR HELP A LIVING WAGE?
            Answer the question.

          • David Doyle

            In a capitalist system, there are things called “investors” and “bank loans” and such that allow entrepreneurs to open new businesses. And regarding paying our employees a living wage, as I’ve suggested before, why don’t you make the effort to speak to any of our employees and ask for their point of view? If your response is, “Well, they’re just gonna lie to keep their job,” then I would ask you, “Why would they care so much about keeping their job if we’re such greedy, shitty employers?”

          • FrauncesT

            Dave still refuses to answer the simple question why he won’t pay even one of his employees a living wage, so I’ll answer it for him; sounds like david doesn’t think any of his employees deserve to be payed a living wage. No one runs a restaurant to stay poor, and no one invests in one to lose money, so my guess is that someone is busy stuffing their pockets with lots and lots of money. It’s funny that the razor thin margins only apply to the employee salaries, eh?

          • Patrick Maguire

            FrauncesT-Obviously you’re not reading the comments, have no interest in a thoughtful, civil, conversation, and are done learning. David did answer your question, “the wages we already paid prior to the admin fees being added to BOH wages were already above industry average.” That response appeared earlier in the thread. Please stop asking the same question and implying that it has been ignored. Or, we can try another approach if you’re interested in engaging in an informed, thoughtful dialogue. According to Medium, my blog post attached is a 17-minute read explaining the thinking, history, implementation, execution, and 1-year results of the HAF initiative. Please read the entire post and let me know if you have any new, relevant questions. Thank you. http://bit.ly/2gR7FOJ

          • FrauncesT

            Above industry standards does not equal LIVING WAGE, Patrick. David is instead putting the cash into his own pockets and claiming that his hands are tied. Remember, if he was paying a living wage he wouldn’t have to strong arm/shame/dupe his customers into ponying up the extra cash.
            FACT: HE REFUSES TO PAY PEOPLE A LIVING WAGE, while filling the pockets of his investors and opening new businesses with the money his employees should be getting. He does not pay a living wage; if he did he would say it.

          • Patrick Maguire

            A few questions for anonymous FrauncesT before I respond more in-depth and propose something to you:
            #1-Did you read the entire blog post?
            #2-If and when you do, be sure to read the part about Keith and David’s track record with employee retention. Why would employees stay at their restaurants if they weren’t being paid and treated fairly?
            #3-Do you honestly think it’s fair and reasonable in a public forum to make claims that small business owners with great reputations in the community are excessively compensating themselves and their investors rather than fairly paying their employees, when you have no working knowledge of that allegation?
            #4-What is your exact $$ definition of an (all-caps) living wage that all restaurateurs should be paying everyone on their staff at all independent, neighborhood restaurants in Jamaica Plain? There are a variety of opinions on this. Please give me your definition, including what the minimum compensation of the lowest paid restaurant employee should be.
            #5-What comparable JP restaurants are paying all of their employees a LIVING WAGE according to your definition?
            #6-Do you have any successful long-term experience owning or managing a small, independent, neighborhood restaurant? If yes, please elaborate on size, location, etc. If not, are you by trade (accountant, financial planner, etc) or experience, intimately familiar with the finances involved in operating a ‘successful’ restaurant? (Not from the bleachers, but in the game working with real, hard, grind it out, day-to-day, bookkeeping #’s)
            #7-Have you read the statistics regarding the failure rate of restaurants and the reasons why most of them fail?
            #8- Have you read the Thrillist piece by Kevin Alexander dated 12/30/16 titled, “THERE’S A MASSIVE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY BUBBLE, AND IT’S ABOUT TO BURST”? (Their all-caps, not mine.) Thank you.

          • Keith Harmon

            My answer to your question is that our average wage is in the mid $20s ($26.87/hr) and the lowest paying position in the restaurants (dishwaher, zero experience, some experience pays more) makes just under $14/hr. Great? No. Better than the vast majority of restaurants? Without question. If we’re laughing our way to the bank why would we bother with a new policy that gets us on here getting slandered and insulted by the likes of you? It’s a complicated question, you obviously don’t like us, our restaurants, or our attempt to do better and be open about our thinking. Stay safe in the snow. -We live to serve, Keith Harmon

      • StephanPeters

        “Well-established” razor thin margins? Give me a break. One thing that’s “well established” is that you have somehow gotten a few schmucks to believe that you and your ‘investors’ are paupers. Here’s another well established fact: poor people cannot afford to open one, never mind 4 restaurants. People, stop believing what these guys say…they’re laughing at you all the way to the bank.

    • David Doyle

      Comparing us to the incoming administration is just…well, dumb. My partner and I are happy to discuss any topic with anyone actually interested in a respectful exchange, but we’re not going to waste our time or energy responding to slander and rants. Nor are we going to engage on forums where there isn’t some expectation of mutual respect. DD

      • McG.Jamie

        Did you really vote for trump AND charlie baker? Why am I not surprised?

        • David Doyle

          Not going to be baited, but nice try. Done “communicating” on this forum because communicating is supposed to be intelligent and respectful, and ain’t much of that being displayed here.

          • SunnyHydeSq

            Since when is telling outright blatant lies to customers “respectful,” Doyle? Maybe that’s another one if your industry standards?

          • David Doyle

            Slander. Not helpful here, not helpful anywhere. DD

          • SunnyHydeSq

            Just answer the question, Dave: Do you pay your help a living wage?
            It should be simple enough, unless the answer is no (and I think we all know the answer is no, you do not pay a living wage).

          • David Doyle

            Yes. Si. Oui. Said it before and am happy to say it again. Also, I don’t think of them as my “help,” which in my mind can be derogatory; I think of them as team members, of which I am one as well.

  • Nate

    We need more competition. To be honest, it is beginning to peeve me a bit that the same group keeps buying up all the spots and opening up overpriced (for the value) bistros in JP. We need more diversity here.

    • David Doyle

      As I’ve said elsewhere, we think competition is healthy. We’re not smothering competition, we’re just doing our best to keep our businesses healthy (in order to take care of our teams as well as ourselves and our families) and to contribute to the community as much as possible. We’re on the same playing field as everyone else; it’s not slanted or fixed in our favor. If you’d like more diversity, please jump in and open your dream restaurant and help JP diversify!

  • Hugo_JP

    Where’s the outrage about chains taking over our neighborhood? 7-11 once started as a mom&pop shop.

    • David Doyle

      Even though I have Irish and Sicilian heritage, we’re not part of the mafia. We’re not blocking anyone else from opening restaurants in JP. We’re not part of a monopoly. The total seat count in our three existing restaurants is less than a lot of single restaurants downtown. We think competition is healthy and are looking forward to other restaurateurs with creative ideas to jump in and help grow and diversify the JP food scene. DD

      • Hugo_JP

        I was referencing the outrage by local businesses and residents when Caffe Nero came to town. You would have thought it was one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse coming to Centre Street. People seem to love Caffe Nero – the world did not end.

  • Jason47

    Theirs is the same group who cry poverty at every turn and have duped/strong armed their well intentioned but gullible customers into forking over extra cash to pay their back of house staff the money that these insincere b.s. artists are denying the staff. We now learn why they pay sub-standard wages…it’s so they can corner the market on restaurants and control prices, and fill their pockets even more. These cry babies LIE.

    • David Doyle

      Bullet point response: 1) We’ve never “cried poverty,” we’ve just tried to honestly explain the restaurant biz to those who aren’t part of it. 2) using language like “duped/ strong armed their well intentioned but gullible customers” is actually pretty offensive to our customers; hopefully some of them will speak up here and defend themselves. 3) we don’t pay sub-standard wages; the wages we already paid prior to the admin fees being added to BOH wages were already above industry average. 4) we don’t LIE, and we definitely don’t slander or rant, which is a lot more than some commentators on this forum can say. DD

      • BostonJPeater

        Why do you refuse to pay ANY your help a living wage, dave?

        • David Doyle

          Why do you refuse to read any of my partner’s and my responses? Talk to our employees and then get back to me. If you don’t believe us, maybe you’ll believe them.

          • BostonJPeater

            The fact that you’re being evasive and refusing to answer the simple question perfectly illustrates your dishonesty. God, I’m so tired of the lies, David. How about you start giving some honest answers for once.

          • Keith Harmon

            See my post above. The only one evading is you. There’s been detailed info all over these threads and other sources. Why should we repeat ourselves over and over to someone who EVADES the large amount of facts provided previously and repetitively and EVADES any dialogue besides nasty, untrue accusations? You’ve got some obvious personal agenda, not really meaningful here.

  • DLN

    Adding a back of the house fee is one way to increase the funds going to the kitchen staff. I prefer the no tip, no fee method and just have one price for each dish. But then I wish that sales tax was rolled into prices as well. I’d prefer to pay what the cost is printed on the menu.

    As for razor thin margins and opening a fourth restaurant there is to me an implicit conflict. It takes money to open another restaurant. Either that money was saved from profits or found from investors/banks. If the money was saved from profits then that discounts the claim of razor thin profits.

    Since the surcharge resulted in increasing the overall cost of dining at these restaurants what I see is that the back of the house fee was a way to increase the cost of dining but by adding a spin by stating that the added cost resulted in better wages for back of the house staff. What I don’t like about the method is that this is manipulative. It plays on a feeling of generosity. Instead of simply increasing the menu prices and passing on the added money to back of the house staff the public is manipulated into feeling good about paying more. If only I could manipulate my boss into tacking on a “we like our employees fee” which customers would be happy to pay. What it comes down to is that it’s just a way to increase prices without irritating customers with official higher prices; it’s also a way to stay competitive with the cost of food while actually charging more. Great trick if a person can manage it in their business. Perhaps other retail stores should tack on to the total cost a “We like our employees who deserve to paid more” fee. How to raise the cost of a product without raising the price! Brilliant.

    As for small businesses versus chains. Can a small business be a chain? Obviously yes, JP Licks, Boloco, there are plenty of “local” and “small” business restaurant chains. This adds to the list. Unfortunately our retail system favors chains and disfavors stand alone stores.

    • FairIsFair

      Another way to increase the funds going to the kitchen staff is for the owner to put less money in his own pockets, but ‘greedy, shitty employers’ (their own words) don’t do that.

  • Monster

    Godwin’s Law to be confirmed in 3, 2, 1…

    • Keith Harmon

      Sadly it wouldn’t surprise me here. Not much use engaging, sorry we couldn’t get your support. Best wishes, regardless.

      • Monster

        You have my support, generally. I wish the industry pay structure was different, but David Doyle gave a pretty fair explanation of why adding the BOH fee was the best option at this moment the last time this issue came up here. (I also really don’t care about paying 3% more for dinner, unlike some people around here.)

        I might, however, suggest that engaging directly with angry, sanctimonious internet commenters might not be the best PR strategy.

        • Keith Harmon

          Thank you. I also wish the structure was different which is why we’re taking a (literally) pennies on the dollar stab at improving it. I’m sure you’re right about the PR strategy, but we’re ordinary people living here getting slandered on a forum regarding a neighborhood we love and truly try to do well by. The fact that the slander mainly has to do with how well we treat and pay our employees and guests is incredibly insulting, as any single person who actually knows us would understand. Stay safe in the snow and have a good weekend. -we live to serve, Keith Harmon

    • Godwin thinks

      This take over of the restaurant industry by evil aryans reminds me of adolphs march through Western Europe

  • colleen “cloudspotter” clark

    I’m a newbie to this forum. I live in JP and I love JP. I also love the choices we have within walking distance. In addition to the three fine restaurants mentioned in the article, we are blessed with other great options because people are willing to invest in our community. JP is delightful destination for a great dining experience. Isn’t that good for all of us?

    I hope the community encourages our respected business owners (the ones who take the risks to bring a business here) run their businesses as they choose. Seems we could support their effort to innovate. If they aren’t doing it right, they won’t last long. The restaurant industry its brutally competitive.

    Just want to add a positive thought to this largely negative exchange and spread some good vibes here.

    • Gretchen

      Thanks for adding some positive commentary! @disqus_qbjSNu25jq:disqus and @disqus_RHxIMss3Ay:disqus , thank you for your contributions to JP’s great restaurant scene. Excited to try the new place! And extra excited it’s on the other side of the neighborhood – nice short walk. 😉

  • kinopio

    I live a few blocks from this location and I’m happy about this news. This part of JP needs more restaurants.

  • Ramblin’ Evil Mushroom

    Of all the stories on JPN, this is the last one I expected to draw out the trolls. The sanctimony is really something to behold. @disqus_RHxIMss3Ay:disqus and @disqus_qbjSNu25jq:disqus, you’re a credit to the neighborhood, and I appreciate the efforts you’re making to treat your FOH and BOH staff well. I live near the proposed location for your newest venture, and my family and I will definitely be trying it as soon as it’s open.

  • netfish

    Yesterday i got a WHOPPER JR and cup of coffee at ht BURGER KING in Dedham the total cost was $2.55 including .17 tax and (senior coffee .49)
    The burger was great, flame broiled . with fresh tomato and lettuce , on sesame roll. Coffee as good as any offered in JP.
    Why dont any of Jamaica Plains local eateries offer any similar affordable items on their menus?
    No wonder they always fight any un-local chains trying to come to JP !!!!

    • Marty

      Netfish, I love your comment only because it debunks the narrative that the food at fast food chains is all horrible and bad for you. McDonald’s has one of the best Southwestern style salads that I’ve ever had. The greens are always fresh, the chicken is cooked to order and all for under $6. Having said that, they can offer such low prices because they are giants that buy in huge numbers. That is why I wouldn’t be opposed to a chain opening in Forest Hills or some other centrally located place in JP. People who don’t have $3 or more for a cup of coffee or $10 for a hamburger should be able to have a place they can go to that is nice as well as affordable. The MacDonalds in Egleston in my view is not well-managed – it doesn’t look clean and they seldom have salads. No one is holding them accountable for that for reasons that are beyond this comment. What the chains do share with the restaurants discussed here is that they pay terrible wages to the back and the front of the house.

      • David Doyle

        At last, a couple of comments that give us some meat to chew on. Of course, none of us likes to be overcharged for food, whether it’s coffee or a burger or a “fancy” meal. But if we only talk about price and nothing else, here’s what we miss: Let’s assume the good people of JP allow a Burger King to open up on Centre Street, or Washington Street. Will they be buying produce or eggs from Eva’s or Stillman’s Farm? Will they commit to sponsoring a stage at the JP Music Fest every Sept? Will they sponsor Porchfest ever year? Will they invite local musicians to perform at night, and invite local authors to have book launch parties? Will they host monthly Benefit Nights to support the work of local nonprofits whose work helps make our communities safer, healthier and more equitable? I could go on, but I’m hoping you see my point. I’m all for communities having a variety of dining & food shopping options at various price points, but there are a lot of complexities and issues to think about beyond just price. DD

      • Patrick Maguire

        “Marty,” I recommend that you read all of the previous comments in a thread before leaving your own. Here’s a comment you missed from one of the restaurant owners you’re slandering claiming that they pay “terrible wages.” “Our average wage in the company is over $26/HR, and worst paid is around $14 for a dishwasher with zero experience depending on the HAFs by month and location.” -KH
        Marty, please identify a chain that compensates their employees close to that, and that you’d like to see in JP. Thank you.
        JPNews-Thank you for reminding folks to keep comments respectful and to stop with the insults.

  • J Robbins

    The question remains: how is it that you cannot afford to pay your staff a living wage and operate on razor-thin margins yet you CAN afford to open three new restaurants in three years? You own more restaurants than some of the city’s biggest award-winning chefs now.

    • Keith Harmon

      We do pay a living wage that is substantially higher than industry standard. There’s an industry wide problem, which is why you see restaurants across the city and country adopting similar approaches. We are able to open new restaurants based on investors who live in JP, appreciate what we’re trying to do, know us and our employees, and are willing to accept below average returns because they know us and our values. Our average wage in the company is over $26/HR, and worst paid is around $14 for a dishwasher with zero experience depending on the HAFs by month and location. Our margins continue to be 6-8%, and I’m sorry a small minority of people don’t believe us. As they say, thems the breaks. I’m tired of being insulted and slandered so I’m done responding to attacks.

  • JamaicaPlainNews

    Hello everyone. While we appreciate a lively discussion sometimes people simply will not see eye-to-eye. Please remember we are all neighbors, be respectful and do not insult each other.