The Merchant to Open in Downtown Crossing

Downtown Crossing is about to see the rise of a new restaurant for which the public has high expectations. A former retail store at 60 Franklin St. will now be the home to The Merchant, an American brasserie-style restaurant that aims to be a staple within the local community. Shane Smyth, co-owner of The Merchant, is also co-owner of Sycamore in Newton.

The Merchant will likely have a vibe similar to Sycamore, which serves, according to its website, a “seasonally inspired menu” and features local beers.

Unlike the smaller Sycamore, however, The Merchant will feature a much larger dining room that will be able to accommodate up to 200 guests. For more private events, The Merchant will feature two private dining rooms that will seat up to 30 guests each.

The Merchant will strive to provide fresh, high quality food, using as much locally grown produce as possible. The Merchant will also feature a large, 40-foot bar that will have at least 36 types of beer on tap with an even larger bottle selection. Like the produce, many of the beers and liquors will be also come from local companies.

The Merchant will serve lunch, dinner, and late night food at its initial opening. Smyth expects to operate seven days a week with later hours on the weekend and hopes to eventually begin serving brunch and breakfast.

Smyth said that many of The Merchant’s signature dishes would be seafood-based, featuring an impressive raw bar. Oysters and crab will be a big part of the experience that the restaurant provides, and scallops and lobster bisque promise to be big sellers as well. The Merchant’s Americano feel will be evident in their large selection of burgers.

The executive chef will be Matthew Foley, who started his career in Providence as a sous chef at Cragie on Main, where he worked for four years. Most recently, he has worked at Sycamore.

The Merchant’s former occupant was a retail store that was located in the space for over 100 years. The conversion process has proved to be the biggest challenge. An architect was hired to give the space a more contemporary styling.

Although the owners wanted to keep some of the building’s original construction to save some of its history, the building mostly had to be gutted and converted to include the basic necessities of a restaurant.

The construction has gone on for over two years in order to prepare the restaurant for opening day. The Merchant has been forced to delay its opening a few months past the original date, but the partners expect to open in late February or early March.

The Merchant is trying to get its name out in various ways, mostly through the Internet. The restaurant has appeared in multiple food blogs and are active in the social media scene.

The Merchant has created quite a bit of hype within the city of Boston, and the dining community will decide whether or not the new restaurant lives up to that hype.


January 29, 2014