BOSTON (CBS) – Scott Cooper decided to locate his new Belgian-style restaurant, Meadhall, which offers more than 100 beers on tap as well as dishes like bratwurst and duck sausage, in Kendall Square in Cambridge because of its affordable rents and a demographic rich with beer-drinking biotech workers and students.
At Meadhall prices range from a $12 burger to a $29 rib-eye steak.
“It was obvious that this area was wildly under-served,” said Cooper, who opened Meadhall in late April.
Kendall Square, once known almost exclusively for its plethora of biotechnology companies, icy glass-fronted office buildings and a movie theater, is fast-becoming a culinary destination in its own right.
During the past two years, 16 new eateries have opened, 15 of which are independent and locally-owned, according to the Kendall Square Association.
The burst is due to its affordable commercial rents, often because of landlords eager to see restaurants open in the neighborhood.
Restaurant owners also point out that the combination of business traffic during the day and night-time traffic driven by new high-end apartment developments makes for an appealing customer base.
Restaurants that have opened in Kendall Square during the past year include Meadhall, Evoo, Think Tank and the coffeehouse Voltage Coffee & Art, among others.
“There had been a dearth of restaurants in this area,” said Travis McCready, executive director of the Kendall Square Association.
The rush of restaurant openings can be attributed, at least in part, to the addition of about 1,000 apartments and condos in Kendall Square during the past five years, stemming from several new residential development including Watermark Cambridge and Third Square Apartments, McCready said.
McCready also says landlords are willing to offer realistic deals to small, independent restaurants, noting that one restaurant that’s slated to open soon was able to negotiate $20 per square foot.
That may be an especially good deal.
In moderately priced areas in Cambridge, rents can range between $30 to $50 per square foot, said Robert Sheehan, of commercial real estate and research firm KeyPoint Partners in Burlington.
Restaurant rents vary widely in Boston, but can hit highs of between $70 and $80 per square foot.
Lisa van der Pool of the Boston Business Journal reports
With a successful location in Portsmouth, N.H., Melissa Jasper was scouting locations several years ago in Kendall Square to open another location of her breakfast-focused restaurant The Friendly Toast, where the average check is about $15.
The landlord of the space she looked at got wind of her desire to move to Kendall Square, and made her a great offer for space at One Kendall Square.
Jasper opened The Friendly Toast there two years ago; she said business is going well.
“We thought it was an underdeveloped area that needed some breakfast,” said Jasper.
William Kovel, chef and owner of Catalyst, which is set to open at 300 Technology Square in August, agrees that landlords in Kendall tend to be accommodating.
Kovel formerly worked at Aujourd’hui, a former restaurant at Boston’s Four Seasons Hotel.