August 26, 2019 HISTORIC BOSTON ENGAGES RESTAURATEURS FOR COMFORT STATION
MEDIA RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE USE
Monday, Aug. 26, 2019
Photos are available upon request.
Columbia Road Renovation to Include Food by Dorchester’s Rai and Perry
BOSTON – Now nearing completion of a $1.4 million restoration and rehabilitation of the 1912 Upham’s Corner Comfort Station in Dorchester, Historic Boston Inc. announced a partnership with an experienced restaurateur couple to open Comfort Kitchen, a daytime café and pop-up dinner experience featuring local food entrepreneurs.
Biplaw Rai and Nyacko Perry of Dorchester are joining with HBI to open the doors of the Columbia Road property near Upham’s Corner in May 2020.
Rai, a Dorchester resident, is currently managing partner of the Shanti Restaurant Group and is co-founder of Dudley Café in Roxbury. He is passionate about food justice and sustainability and sits on the board of directors of Commonwealth Kitchen, a collaborative community providing kitchens with business assistance.
Perry, Rai’s fiancee, is an organization development consultant and founder of Yin Consulting. She is committed to Comfort Kitchen being a place for the local community and will be establishing a community board and other engagement initiatives to fulfill that commitment.
“While the historic Comfort Station’s rehabilitation is substantially complete, we have paused construction and look forward to making a home for Biplaw and Nyacko’s kitchen and program requirements for the space,” said Kathy Kottaridis, Executive Director of Historic Boston Inc. “Construction will begin again in November and be complete for a spring 2020 opening.”
“We believe that the new ‘Comfort Kitchen’ continues our goals of introducing a locally owned enterprise with focus on healthy, locally sourced food to the Upham’s Corner neighborhood,” Kottaridis said.
HBI had been working with Dorchester bicycle advocate Noah de Amor on a concept that combined bike repair and a coffee shop. Amor recently decided not to pursue his plan.
In 2015, the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development
designated the redevelopment of the historic Upham’s Corner Comfort Station, on Columbia Road, to the partnership of Historic Boston Inc. and The American City Coalition. Historic Boston Inc. is the developer and will own the building and lease it to Rai and Perry as operators.
“We use food as a mechanism for building community,” said Perry. She and Rai have engaged Kwasi Kwaa to serve as head chef. Kwaa is the local chef behind the Ghanian street food pop-up Chop Bar and will hold regular dinner service as well supporting development of other local food entrepreneurs.
Perry said their goal is to create an active community space, starting with a restaurant space that they would operate and make available to restaurant operators and chefs who are experienced and ready to open their own space but want to test their concept first.
“Our pop-ups will celebrate historically marginalized communities and rising chefs that are making a difference in our communities. We seek to build community and cross-cultural understanding through food experiences,” she said.
The former rest station, a stucco 940-square-foot facility with full basement, is undergoing a $1.4 million historic rehabilitation with improvements that will create a full-service café with dinner operations.
The Upham’s Corner Comfort Station served Boston’s streetcar system and is near the MBTA’s Fairmount commuter rail line, as well as being within the City of Boston’s Upham’s Corner Main Street District.
The Comfort Station is a one-story stucco and tile “mission style” building built as a convenience station in 1912 to support the expanding streetcar system in Boston. It was designed by Dorchester architect William H. Besarick, who also designed the nearby municipal building at the corner of Columbia Road and Bird Street, as well as many triple-decker residences in the area.
The Comfort Station lies on what was once part of the Dorchester North Burying Ground, which is listed in the State and National Register of Historic Places and within the cemetery’s Boston Landmark designation.
“Rehabilitation of the Comfort Station helps tell the story of the City of Boston’s 19th century expansion and the Dorchester neighborhood’s urbanization and related transportation growth into the 20th century,” said Kottaridis.
“The building is a remnant of a time of growth and transportation innovation, and its rehabilitation and reuse will help to preserve and express that story.”
Kottaridis said the renovation and reuse not only preserve a historic building but also support and advance the work of a locally owned business that will enhance the overall Upham’s Corner business district.
Charitable fundraising totaling $450,000 and a $365,000 grant from City of Boston Community Preservation funds were combined with capital from the tenant and permanent financing secured by Historic Boston to make the project possible.
Historic Boston Inc. will employ $176,000 in proceeds from Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits as a funding source to save and establish the new uses for the historic structure.
The architect for the development is Utile, Inc. Architecture + Planning. The contractor is MJ Mawn, Inc.
ABOUT HISTORIC BOSTON INC.
HBI is a nonprofit preservation and real estate organization that
rehabilitates historic and culturally significant properties in Boston’s
neighborhoods so they are a useable part of the city’s present and future.
HBI works with local partners to identify and invest in historic buildings
and cultural resources whose reuse will catalyze neighborhood renewal. HBI
acquires and redevelops historic structures and provides technical
expertise, planning services and financing for rehabilitation projects. HBI
projects demonstrate that preserving historic properties is economically
viable and that they can be useable and functioning assets in a community.
Please visit HBI at www.historicboston.org .
For more information, please contact:
Tom Palmer, Tom Palmer Communication