A victim of its own success — for the time being, at least — Tavalino Restaurant is taking steps to expand its footprint at Patriot Place.
“We are at the limit of our physical plant,” owner Graham Silliman acknowledged last week during a public hearing before selectmen to modify the restaurant’s license.
According to Silliman, Tavalino will be expanding into an adjacent, 1,000-square-foot storefront formerly occupied by Claire’s Accessories boutique. The proposal involves repositioning a small area in the existing space branded as “Tavalino Express,” which served the restaurant’s take-out business but had no internal seating.
“It’s always been inadequate from day one,” Silliman said. “It’s too small.”
Incorporating the adjacent space will enable Tavalino to expand its service counter and add approximately 20 seats with a more limited menu. Silliman also envisioned utilizing this space to serve quick breakfast fare to patrons staying at one of the two hotels at Patriot Place.
Towards that end, he said Tavalino has partnered with Illy Café, an Italian espresso company, with restaurant staff currently receiving specialized training to serve the new product.
“We’re trying to run an espresso bar, not like at Starbucks, but like you would see on Federal Hall or in the North End,” he said.
Because contractors will be on site, Silliman also plans to undertake minor improvements to reconfigure the existing space. Work has already started and is expected to be completed in early fall, he said.
“This place needs to be busy morning to night,” he said. “Otherwise it can’t pay for itself.”
Concurrently, Silliman said, the existing Tavalino bar has proven inadequate to meet demand, both as a waiting area for conventional tables and for patrons ordering food service. Feedback indicates the bar has been “an unpleasant experience” for many customers.
“We need to have another space that works as an overflow space at night,” he said. “It handles a problem that we’ve had of huge crowds — it’s hurt our reputation.”
In addition, Tavalino has been taxed by increasing demands for take-out or delivery-based services.
“We’ve got to get those people away from our front door,” Silliman said. “We need to have a place that’s logical [and] where their orders can be staged and waiting for them without going on every available chair.”
Selectmen unanimously granted the license modification with little discussion.
Indian fare gets nod
In a related matter, selectmen approved both food service and entertainment licenses for a new northern Indian restaurant to open at 29 Washington St., in the small plaza anchored by Route 1 Liquors.
The eatery, focused primarily on take-out/delivery business, will open as Babu G’s Gourmet Kebobs and Sandwiches. The family-owned restaurant already operates a location — Singh’s Café — in Wellesley
Babu G’s still requires separate permits from the town health department.