More than a year after Marty’s Liquors closed its doors at 1227 Commonwealth Ave., the “Retail Space Available” sign has gone down and, to the delight of many locals, a new sign stands in its place: Kelly’s Roast Beef. The restaurant, one of six operated by the Revere-based company, opened for business on May 28.
It took eight months for the scouting, neighborhood hearings, permitting, leasing and refurbishing of the location, but Kelly’s management and ownership couldn’t be happier, according to President & CEO Manny Paula.
“Places like this one don’t come up very often, and I’d been telling our CFO that we needed an Allston-Brighton location for years … We’re thrilled to be here,” said Paula, who greeted friends, vendors and employees as they came to the two evening trial-runs of the restaurant before last week’s opening.
Over the winter, questions about security and cleanliness arose at neighborhood hearings as Kelly’s applied for a license to remain open until 2 a.m. But Kelly’s ownership promised a police detail on weekend nights to ease concerns, and the Boston Licensing Board granted the late-night request.
Interest was certainly at a peak as the doors opened on Thursday and the roast beef sandwiches got plated up.
“We know this is a great location, and we know that our product is great,” said Paula.
General manager Dan Doherty, who started working at Kelly’s as a summer job 30 years ago, said that during construction and training over the past several weeks, the response from the neighborhood has been very positive.
“We’ve had a lot of excitement from the neighbors, and we finally got our final inspection, so here we are,” he said.
All parties agree that perhaps the biggest benefit is the jobs created by the new Kelly’s location. According to Doherty, there are 79 new employees who began last week, under five managers and two supervisors. About 20 of those hired are full-time students, and some are high school students, said Doherty.
“These people were willing to go on the T for training — to our Medford location and Saugus,” said Doherty. “Everybody got a taste of the business before we opened here.”
With as many as 10,000 roast beef sandwiches served at any Kelly’s location in any given week, it’s likely those employees will be busy. The new location caters to families and couples with old-fashioned booths, but also to single commuters with long barstool tables. And for the college crowd on game nights, there’s a 60-inch flat-screen TV, which Paula noted was a first for a Kelly’s location.
Harold Brown, president of the Hamilton Company, which owns and leases the building, was just as excited as the management.
“They’re a restaurant with quite a reputation, and they’re very community oriented,” Brown said. “And just getting someone in the area to hire, who is attuned to the community’s needs, is a big addition to the area.”
On the first night they were serving, Brown stopped by for a taste.
“Kelly’s is unbelievable. I ate there [almost] 70 years ago — of course then, they just had roast beef,” he said.
His new favorite? The lobster roll.
“I had one, when we were negotiating with them,” he said. “It was terrific!”