January 31, 2023 Comfort Kitchen is Open!
At long last, the doors to Comfort Kitchen opened to the public on Wednesday the 25th of January, unveiling the long-awaited café and restaurant that features the flavors of the African and Asian diaspora in the newly rehabilitated Upham’s Corner Comfort Station. The 1912 building that was vacant and deteriorating for more than 50 years, is now Upham’s Corner’s newest business and a gathering place for the community.
Boston’s food network has been buzzing for weeks about the imminent arrival of the new restaurant. Eater, Boston Magazine, Caught in Dot, and Boston Restaurant Talk all previewed the restaurant’s menu and, since then, the Boston Globe has sent a reviewer over for samplings. According to Biplaw Rai, one of four ownership partners in Comfort Kitchen, the team and its new employees have hit the ground running, serving breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
So far, the excitement is palpable among neighbors and patrons. “It’s so nice to come into a welcoming place and have a delicious cup of coffee or spicy chiya,” said Dorchester resident Cynthia Jefferson. “I haven’t had dinner here yet, but if it’s as good as my breakfast sandwich, I’m sure I’ll be a regular here.”
Historic Boston (HBI) is particularly proud of the project and the partnership it formed with the Comfort Kitchen team. Designated to develop the property in 2015, HBI worked alongside local cycling entrepreneur Noah Hicks and the Bowdoin Bike School for several years, struggling with the increased costs of construction due, in part, to Boston’s construction boom, and to the building’s condition. Hicks decided not to proceed with his bike repair shop and café concept in 2018.
HBI’s Lisa Lewis began a conversation with Biplaw Rai, manager of the Dudley Café in Nubian Square in early 2019, and the speculative conversation quickly burgeoned into a plan to open a restaurant café that Rai and is partners Nyako Pearl Perry, Kwasi Kwaa and Rita Ferriera had been long contemplating. The new program for the tiny 1200 square foot Comfort Station required a new design for the restaurant’s interior, slowing the construction schedule. This was followed shortly thereafter by the Covid shutdown. Nevertheless, the determined team raised money for their restaurant build out and working capital, and HBI completed the building’s $1.9 million rehabilitation late last year.
Comfort Kitchen’s name is taken from the historic Comfort Station, a structure built in 1912 as public bathrooms for riders of the expanding public streetcar system. The building was closed in the 1970s and sat empty for decades under the stewardship of the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development. HBI will own the Comfort Station for the next five years due to financing compliance requirements, after which it will work to transfer ownership to the Comfort Kitchen partners.