Old Grille Becomes New Grafton
Lee is the co-owner of Grafton, Inc., which runs properties including the Temple Bar near Porter Square and Grafton Street, the popular Harvard Square restaurant and bar, formerly on Mass. Ave.
In late November, Lee and his partners will open up Red Line, an upscale casual restaurant and bar patterned after Grafton Street.
Featuring hardwood and ceramic tile floors, a 35-seat bar, upholstered seating, and patio dining, Red Line will be a far cry from its dark and smoky predecessor at 59 JFK Street.
The Grille closed in May after serving alcohol to minors.
If Lee has his way, he says, no one will remember what was once housed behind the brick façade.
“We look to draw a wide range of people from students and graduates to people who live in Cambridge,” Lee says. “We weren’t really influenced by the Grille. We had an idea of what we wanted before we moved in.”
About the only surviving Grille remnant will be the low ceilings. Lee’s blueprints call for a private dining room, a casual dining area with free tables and booths, “hi-top” and patio seating, and a bar with a 65-person capacity.
He has plans for deejays and small bands on the weekends, and has obtained a license for other activities such as karaoke, billiards, televisions and darts. The dining area will also be able to be converted into a dance floor.
Though Red Line will look to reclaim the former Grafton Street crowd—including many Harvard students—its 2 a.m. closing time separates it from Grafton’s old location, where the bar closed at 1 a.m.
Lee says everyone who comes through the door past 10 p.m. on weekends must be 21 years old, regardless of whether or not they plan on drinking alcohol at the bar.
“We’re going to have a good door policy as far as IDs,” Lee said.
However, Red Line’s entrance into the late-night bar scene has perked the ears of the Cambridge Police Department (CPD) and the Cambridge Alcohol License Commision.
Though representatives of both agencies have expressed confidence in Grafton, Inc.’s policies from their excellent record when they owned Grafton Street, CPD Lieutenant John Kenny was cautious when he heard of the later closing time.
“Ah! That makes a difference,” he says. “They’re attracting a different clientele.”
“We always give special attention to places open until 2 a.m, especially around closing time when everyone’s coming out at the same time,” Kenny says. “We send in a couple extra squad cars.”
Inside the establishment, Lee says he plans to install an awning that drapes from the ledge of the second-story parking lot down between the three arches of the façade.
Planters will be built in place of the current red rails, and glass folding doors will face the patio in front of the restaurant.
Red Line will serve casual American food, according to Lee, who says they will “cover all the bases, with meat, fish, poultry and a large selection of wine and beers,” much like the old Grafton Street venue.
Lee and his partners, Sean Kennedy, Peter Lee and Gerry Sheerin, say they plan to open a new Grafton Street in the previous location of The Bow and Arrow Pub at 1230 Mass. Ave.
They will occupy the first floor of a three-floor facility that will rent office space above.
The new 5000 square foot location, opening this spring, will be about twice the size of the old eatery.
—Staff writer Justin D. Gest can be reached at email@example.com.