Tres Gatos with books, food opening soon

January 7, 2011
By

Rebeca Oliveira

Rhythm and Muse transformed

CANARY SQ.—Tres Gatos, a tapas restaurant addition to the book and music store formerly known as Rhythm and Muse at 470 Centre St., is gearing up for a late January opening.

“We’re hoping to have a couple of friends and family nights, with a soft opening towards the end of the month,” owner David Doyle told the Gazette in a phone interview.

The whole establishment will be known as Tres Gatos—Spanish for “three cats”—though Tres Gatos books and music will probably have a separate phone number from Tres Gatos restaurant, Doyle said. Tapas-style dining involves sharing several small plates among a group.

“My wife Mari and I began thinking about adding a tapas restaurant almost five years ago, partly because we love Spanish tapas and wine and because we believe there is strong demand for such a place in the neighborhood,” Doyle said.

A centerpiece of the dining room will be a large communal table that has been commissioned from local artisan Milton Trimitsis. The eight-seat table will seat large parties or groups of smaller parties.

“It’s a chance for people to get to know each other that would normally not sit together,” Doyle said. “Plus, it’s really great to have work done by a local guy.”

“It’s very exciting to have a small role to play in the restaurant,” Trimitsis said. “And it sounds like a fun way to have dinner.”

Tres Gatos will serve lunch and dinner, as well as weekend brunch options, with daily non-interrupted coffee service. Dinner service is expected to begin at 5 p.m., and the restaurant is expected to remain open until 11 p.m., 10 p.m. on Sundays. The store will keep the same hours as the restaurant, according to Doyle.

“The fact that the store and restaurant will share hours should benefit both sides of the business,” Doyle said.

To bring Tres Gatos’ “great vegetarian options” to life, Doyle is bringing in Marcos Sanchez, former sous chef at Dante, along with Felicia Sanchez of Centre Street Café, who will help manage the restaurant one or two nights a week.

The restaurant will also feature an extensive wine list.

“We’ve got a fantastic, very knowledgeable wine guy” who is assembling an all-Spanish wine list. “We’re hoping to have a beer list that’ll stand out as well, with some hard-to-find beers,” Doyle added.

Tres Gatos got approved for their beer and wine license in late May. “The summer was spent mostly trying to secure funding,” Doyle said, which was finally settled by a Small Business Association loan from Mt. Washington Bank.

Rhythm and Muse has been closed since early June in order to accommodate the massive construction project. The whole first floor of the house, which formerly included an apartment, was vacated. Asbestos was found in the basement during construction.

“We were really hoping to be open before Christmas. It just wasn’t in the cards,” Doyle said.

Doyle previously told the Gazette that the changes came partly to address the struggles his and all independent book and music stores are undergoing given the rise of online retailers. In addition, a recent move by the residential tenant and former building owner freed up a significant amount of space, making a total of 1,600 square feet on the first floor available.

“Indie book and music stores continue to go out of business all around the country, and we believe a successful restaurant integrated with the store will ultimately make the store more vibrant, successful and interesting,” Doyle said.

A few last hurdles remain for Tres Gatos. Kitchen appliances were delivered on the last week of December, along with light fixtures. Doyle said he is still waiting for the Boston Water and Sewer Commission to OK an upgrade to existing pipes in order to accommodate the demands of the new restaurant and existing second-floor apartment. Digging a trench between the street and the property will be required, he said.

Doyle also said Tres Gatos might be able to open without the wheelchair lift he is expecting, operating with a temporary occupancy certificate until the lift is installed.

“It’s been a fun challenge,” Doyle said.