Coppersmith Restaurant: The New Model of Hospitality

Coppersmith exterior rendering, South Boston

Coppersmith is changing the perception of your neighborhood restaurant for the better.

When hospitality and community combine, the social impact is deliciously positive!

Coppersmith Restaurant logo, Boston

In the culinary world of Boston, most restaurants will tell you that their business is about hospitality, service or food and beverage. Not many could venture to say that their business is actually about goodwill and social impact, that is, until the idea for the Coppersmith came along.

“We are in the business of community,” said one of the three owners/developers of Coppersmith Restaurant, Travis “Tbone” Talbot, a hired gun and a bold, trend-breaking presence in both the hospitality and philanthropy spaces, noted for his participation in the Boston Bites Back event at Fenway Park to raise money for the One Fund.

Travis "Tbone" Talbot, Boston
Travis “Tbone” Talbot

“The new model of hospitality is giving,” he said, smiling lightly under his characteristic Red Sox cap, a fan despite his Canadian origins.

While still a for-profit restaurant, Coppersmith, set to open at the end of this fall, is creating a unique business paradigm focused on community, specifically the communities of South Boston, South End, Dorchester and Fort Point/Innovation District, that is intent on collaboration with local non-profit organizations as part of everyday business, as well as providing a “third space” between home and work for residents to relax, be entertained and eat a great meal.

map of Coppersmith's community, South Boston
map of Coppersmith’s community

“We see ourselves as being a hub, a place where people can socialize and be a part of the community. We like to say that Coppersmith is an authentic neighborhood restaurant, not just another restaurant in the neighborhood,” said Talbot.

The venue, located at 40 West 3rd Street in Southie off the Broadway T stop, settled in a rustic copper foundry (formerly the Dalquist Manufacturing Co.), will feature a large, 88-seat communal-style dining room, two dueling food trucks, an indoor and outdoor bar totaling 59 seats, a street-side patio with 60 communal-style seats, a roof deck and raw bar, and a grab-and-go café. Much of the décor and design of the venue comes from the original building and reclaimed materials from the demolition.

Coppersmith exterior rendering, South Boston
Coppersmith exterior rendering, South Boston
Coppersmith exterior rendering, South Boston
Coppersmith exterior rendering, South Boston
Coppersmith dining room rendering, South Boston
Coppersmith dining room rendering

Coppersmith plans to use their historic space and goodwill relationships as a home base for activities like fundraisers, educational “family dinners”, food literacy seminars, cooking classes, and food truck competitions, where a portion of proceeds would go to charities, and initiatives within the community like the organization No Kid Hungry.

Each area of the spacious restaurant can offer a different style of dining, all of which will be a mix globally influenced preparations and traditional dishes with “adventurous” updates, according to Executive Chef Chris Henry, formerly of 9 at Home and Drink with the Barbara Lynch Group.

Executive Chef of Coppersmith, Chris Henry, Boston
Executive Chef of Coppersmith, Chris Henry

“We want to start with a broad range of offerings and narrow it down based on community feedback,” said Henry. “We want to let the neighborhood dictate the direction that we take, while still making sure to be socially responsible with all of our vendors and ingredients.”

In a recent press release, Henry revealed a “sneak peak” at the menu, divulging fare options like lobster fritters with pimenton aioli, food truck offerings like thin patty burgers or tacos and street corn, large meals like a roasted pig or clam bake, or bar snacks like homemade beef jerky and spiced Macrona almonds.

“At the end of the day, we want everything to be accessible,” said Henry.

Clearly, there is something for everyone, and Coppersmith means that. From their nearly 20 partnerships with non-profits to the food they will provide, they are conscious of how they can be of service to their audience in every capacity.

One of the many ways that they intend to create community wealth is through employment and workforce development initiatives. Coppersmith’s most impressive initial partnership is with Triangle Inc. in Malden, an organization that works to empower people with disabilities, teach them life and vocational skills, and place them in paid, competitive jobs so they are active and productive members of their community.

“Coppersmith is a community partner that values their mission of providing good food, but also values being a true community employer,” said Jeff Gentry, Director of Youth Services and Community Relations at Triangle.

Coppersmith’s partnership with Triangle is two-fold. Triangle has been aggressively recruiting students and adults with disabilities for their Career Pathways Program and their Barista Training Program. The restaurant is guaranteeing eight position slots for Triangle recruits—three in food prep, three in barista, and two in custodial.

Triangle has received both state and federal training dollars at Bunker Hill for the recruits to do 100 hours of culinary training and be ServSafe Food Handler Certified. The recruits, six from Boston Public Schools and six adults from career centers, will also have to spend 35-40 hours at Triangle or their career centers doing job readiness training, according to Taciana Saab, Workforce Development Coordinator at Triangle.

“We are looking for commitment, attendance, positive attitude and a desire to learn and grow,” said Saab, gesturing with her hands as she sat in her cubicle at Triangle. “Not every student at job readiness training will make it to Bunker Hill.”

On the barista side, Joel Costanzo, Program Director of Youth Services Division at Triangle, will be using his talents as a barista from his time as General Manager of Atomic Café Coffee Roasters to train and develop student skill sets. The program, for which he is still recruiting BPS students and recent grads, includes 10 weeks of training, eight of which will be hands-on activities, learning the day-to-day operations of the café at Coppersmith.

“They will be on the floor with other coworkers, learning about teamwork and how to interact with people in a social environment, and I’ll be right there, guiding, helping and supporting,” said Costanzo.

Costanzo said that he hopes to begin training in mid-July and is looking forward to giving students the skills they need to start a career.

“If you can do vocational training and career development at a hip restaurant in Boston, in the real world, you sink or swim every day,” said Gentry as he walked around their large Malden offices. “So many people with disabilities have been protected from failure their whole lives, and it’s incredibly disabling. Young people should have ability to mess up a latté or see what happens when you skip a shift. It’s a realistic approach to developing individuals.”

General Manager Paul Bruno, formerly of Dillon’s with Glynn Hospitality Group, expressed excitement at the opportunity this partnership brings for networking, both to raise awareness about Triangle’s cause, and to get Coppersmith’s name out as a company that wants to get involved in the community and is willing to help anyone who needs it.

Talbot reiterated this notion of making the restaurant available to the non-profit world and going beyond just providing a space.

“We are a part of so many different goodwill collaborations and want to provide as many opportunities as we can,” he said.

Another impressive partnership that Coppersmith is involved with is the Fresh Truck, “a retrofitted school bus that operates as a mobile healthy food market to support food access and community across Boston neighborhoods.” To start, Coppersmith built the truck for them out of a school bus, using their connections with Building Restoration Services and their food storage expertise to design the space based on how people would move through it.

Fresh Truck, Boston
Fresh Truck

“This is not your typical food truck,” said Josh Trautwein, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Fresh Truck, who found inspiration for the truck when one of the main markets in Charlestown had to close for a year for renovations, leaving the low-income residents lacking for fresh produce and unable to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

To enter the bus, you simply walk in through the front door, and can stroll down the aisle, handpicking produce from the shelving units along the driver side that carry 30 to 40 different kinds of food. A counter top for additional space, games for kids, cooking demonstrations, etc. runs along the passenger side. Payment via cash, credit or food stamps happens at the back of the bus, where a set of stairs has been built into the back bumper for customers to exit. WIFI and electricity is built onto the bus, as well.

Fresh Truck interior, Boston
Fresh Truck interior
Fresh Truck interior, Boston
Fresh Truck interior

In addition to mentoring Fresh Truck on things like bus maintenance and food storage, Coppersmith is storing the bus and their food for them on-sight, saving the non-profit thousands of dollars each year and helping the business work towards becoming a more sustainable model. This is only a small example of the circle of reciprocity that is part of the daily agenda and operations at Coppersmith.

“They leverage the resources that they have to streamline costs of nonprofits,” said Trautwein. “Connectivity to a restaurant and food space is a huge asset to us. Funders and partners look at that and see it as invaluable.”

Trautwein said that going forward in the future, Coppersmith and Fresh Truck will work together to figure out how the two businesses fit into the broader food and health ecosystems. For example, Coppersmith and Fresh Truck are exploring food rescue possibilities to get healthy offerings to families living in shelters or people who don’t have access to prepared foods.

“Coppersmith sees us as a resource to be a ‘vehicle’ and partner in their development of new initiatives that they want to support,” said Trautwein.

As if Coppersmith didn’t already have enough community partnerships. They will also be working with non-profits like Slow Food, Let’s Talk About Food, Pine Street Inn, Men With Heart, Future Chefs, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, among 12 others, and they are always looking for more ways to redirect their resources back into the community.

Coppersmith impact partnerships
Example of some of Coppersmith’s social impact partnerships

“Non-profit worlds are amazing at helping others,” said Talbot. “We are simply applying our resources and unique skill sets in areas like marketing, logistics, and even volunteer manpower to help those making a difference.”


by Rebecca Bellan

John Radcliffe: From Clam Bakes to White Plates

Chef John Radcliffe of Central Wharf Co. turns New England Clam Chowder into a fine dining experience.

From Seared Tuna Wonton Nachos to Broiled Oysters, Radcliffe combines seasonal and local ingredients with New England flavors and refined techniques to create a truly unique plate.

“Hey! ¿Qué pasa, man? ¿Todo bien?” says John Radcliffe, head chef at Central Wharf Co., on any given day as he greets his coworkers in the kitchen. The wiry chef, 31, wears his shoulder length brown hair in a low ponytail and his white chef coat a little wrinkled. A friendly smirk lingers on his bearded face as he describes to the wait staff in detail the special he’s prepared for the day, Scallops Florentine, broiled with shallots, spinach, herbs and Asiago cheese and finished with cornbread crumbs.

Scallops Florentine, Chef John Radcliffe at Central Wharf Co., Boston
Scallops Florentine cooked by Chef John Radcliffe at Central Wharf Co.
Scallops Florentine, Chef John Radcliffe at Central Wharf Co., Boston
Scallops Florentine cooked by Chef John Radcliffe at Central Wharf Co.

A Massachusetts native who has bounced around the American culinary scene, working under chefs like Roxanne Klein in California and Chris Schlesinger in Westport, Radcliffe is on the rise in Boston and determined to make a statement about sustainable local flavors with refined and inspired twists.

While John has a strong culinary background that ranges from preparing a traditional clambake on the beach to creating a ponzu demi-glace for blackened tuna tartar, his New England roots remain a strong influence and base for his cooking. You can often find him before the restaurant’s rush in the prep kitchen, two hands grasping a giant wooden spoon, stirring a large, steaming pot of New England clam chowder, which he makes with homemade mussel stock among other wholesome ingredients. This fragrant, creamy stew was one of the first things John learned to cook. As a boy growing up in the south shore of Massachusetts, specifically New Bedford, Dartmouth and Westport, John would dig up quahogs and mussels with his father, “Ragtime” Jack Radcliffe, grind them in an old-fashioned meat grinder, and make chowder with them.

Chef John Radcliffe preparing New England Clam Chowder for Central Wharf Co. in Boston
Chef John Radcliffe preparing New England Clam Chowder for Central Wharf Co. in Boston

“I love the ocean,” said John. “I think that comes through in my food and from my roots.”

Radcliffe’s style of cooking is usually seafood based, like any good New Englander. However his varied culinary experience adds a fun, creative, upscale element to his plates.

“A lot of my creations are stemmed off New England flavors, but they’re not New England style at all,” he said.

For example, one popular dish on Central Wharf’s winter menu is called “Goldwater vs. Rockefeller.” Oysters Rockefeller are a traditional broiled oyster with rich, Ritz-cracker breadcrumbs, bacon and butter. John likes to “play with new flavors,” so he created Oysters Goldwater, broiled with horseradish, blue cheese, artichokes and cornbread crumbs, to see how the two stack up against each other.

“Barry Goldwater was the 1964 Republican candidate who put Rockefeller out of the seat,” said John as he maintained perfectly polite eye contact. “Goldwater beat Rockefeller, so I’m hoping that my Goldwater oysters will become more famous than Rockefeller’s.”

While Radcliffe has worked erratic, 50-hour weeks as the head chef of Central Wharf Co. for nearly two years, and as a head chef in general for nine, he has been working and learning in kitchens for 17 years. When the young chef was 14 years old, he got a job dishwashing at a typical New England mom-and-pop restaurant in Dartmouth where he “had been watching and learning without knowing it,” to the point that when one fry cook called out sick, John immediately jumped behind the weeded grill to help. The chef asked what he thought he was doing, to which he replied, “We need two fish and chips and three fried clams, right?” He never dish-washed a day after that.

Radcliffe knew early in life what career path he wanted to follow, so he felt no remorse leaving high school early after a failed attempt to stop the construction of the new Dartmouth High School on wetlands that buffered run off into the Padanaram Harbor. He got his GED and worked at The Back Eddy in Westport under chef Chris Schlesinger who instilled in him some of his most sacred barbeque methods, such as “developing different spice rubs, pickling anything that came out of the ground, and smoking anything that once breathed.”

By the time he was 16, John was running an 18-burner sauté station and a five foot wood-burning grill alongside a bunch of hardened chefs, with whom he’d spend his summer nights starting fires on the beach and summer mornings surfing before heading back in to work by noon. He still surfs today year-round, donning a head-to-toe wetsuit to ride the winter waves that he says can keep him going for 45 minutes to an hour and a half before he goes completely numb.

John’s creativity truly flourished when he left home at 17 for San Francisco and attended the California Culinary Academy, which Le Cordon Bleu bought out while he was in school. He now has two Associate’s Degrees in the culinary arts from both schools. Halfway through his education, John got a job at a fine dining, 13-course menu, raw-food restaurant with a $5 million kitchen called Roxanne’s, where he claims he learned more than he did at school.

“It takes a lot to make raw food fine dining,” he said with a raspy, surfer-dude laugh.

While John says that there’s something to be said about working in a high-volume sauté station, filling up a restaurant with smoke and getting slammed on a Friday night, he prefers working in fine dining because he likes the detail involved in the process.

“I love the passion that everyone shares in the kitchen for putting out awesome food and even the interior competition. Everyone wants to impress everyone else, but in a friendly way.”

That being said, in the future, Chef John wishes to open up his own food-focused, 50 to 100 seat spot, ideally outside the city in a farming location, like Westport, that has a summer influx of tourism but still maintains a farming tradition and an emphasis on local ingredients.

“What really makes a difference on the plate is getting what’s local and fresh, especially seasonal vegetables,” he said.

For instance, in the spring, John will feature ramps and rhubarbs on his menu, and he is now featuring the Massachusetts native macomber turnip. He chooses his produce distributors for Central Wharf’s menu with care, buying from local companies like Cambridge Packing.

Radcliffe believes that it is the chef’s responsibility to set a trend of sustainability.

“We’re the ones feeding people who can afford to go out to eat, and it’s up to us to help the environment out,” he said. “I don’t know why anyone would ever serve Chilean sea bass. It’s going extinct.”

John hopes to be able to only plate ingredients that are grown or produced within 10 miles of his location, but that doesn’t mean it will be a typical New England beach dive, serving up chowdah and slinging fried clams.

“I’ve got a lot of fuel to burn in terms of stuff I’ve picked up from California,” he said.

John also has the experience to build his future kitchen exactly how he wants it. In fact, Central Wharf Co.’s kitchen is his third kitchen design project after The Noon Hill Grill in Medfield and the Lakeville Country Club.

“The most important thing when designing a kitchen is knowing what type of food you’re going to put out so you can design the kitchen to have an even flow to push that food out, whatever your handicaps are.”

Even though Central Wharf’s kitchen is tiny, John designed it to be shaped like an L with each line of the letter flowing to the middle where the window is, which avoids traffic on the line.

His fellow cook, Omar Martinez, said he likes the flow of this kitchen in comparison to others he has worked in, and he said that he has learned a lot from John and John’s ideas.

“We learn from him and he learns from us,” said cook Marcos Orellana. “John does his job. He is a very calm person.”

His own restaurant will have to be put on hold for the time being while John takes care of personal matters. The charismatic chef is happily engaged to a woman of Italian background named Maria. The two got engaged on June 13, 2014 and have the wedding date set for May 23 on the beach in Westport. The reception will be held where John fell in love with cooking, The Back Eddy. Maria has a 7 year old daughter, Jocelyn, whom John says he already sees as his daughter. He likes to make pizzas with Jocelyn and cooks for Maria’s parents, Italian immigrants who have taught him the best way to make stuffed shells and a great recipe for cannoli filling.

To any aspiring chefs, John advises that you, “be a sponge, work hard, get your hands dirty, and don’t say no. Bounce around to different spots and try new styles. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone.”

Central Wharf Co., Boston, MA
Central Wharf Co., Boston, MA
Central Wharf Co., Boston, MA
Central Wharf Co., Boston, MA

Central Wharf Co.

160 Milk St., Boston, MA



Embrace Your Inner Hipster at Deep Ellum

cheers at Deep Ellum, Boston Massachusetts

Deep Ellum– Charming upscale hipster dive in the heart of Allston.

An inspired seasonal menu meets a rotating tap selection and superb craft cocktails.


Deep Ellum restaurant, Boston, Massachussets
photo taken from Deep Ellum’s Facebook page

Happiness is eating at this restaurant. The wait staff doesn’t wear uniforms, and they don’t bother with pleasantries. Half of the kitchen staff has beards, which might explain the hair in the back of my throat. The small rectangular dining room is over-crowded with hipsters. All of these things in your peripherals disappear the moment that waiter in a red flannel and black Ray Bans plops a steaming Rueben sandwich in front of your face, crispy and buttery on the outside and full of salty meat on the inside, complete with fries, coleslaw and house-made pickles.

Reuben sandwich at Deep Ellum, Boston, Massachussets
Reuben sandwich at Deep Ellum

The beer list is superb and constantly rotating, the cocktails are even better and the menu is original and mouth-watering. Chow down on poutine, fennel and apple risotto, or homemade bratwurst while you watch black-and-white movies on the corner TVs. Sip on Evil Twin Hipster pale ale or Dank and Sticky IPA and stare at a dead animal’s mounted skull above the bar.

poutine at Deep Ellum, Boston, Massachusetts
poutine at Deep Ellum
cheers at Deep Ellum, Boston Massachusetts
cheers at Deep Ellum

The décor, music and food might just trick you into thinking you’re actually in the hip entertainment area of Texas after which the restaurant is named, rather than the beer-soaked college neighborhood where it resides . It’s even got its own version of Southern hospitality.




by Rebecca Bellan


Deep Ellum:

477 Cambridge St.

Allston, MA 02134



Café Polonia’s Chef Brings Poland to Boston

chef at cafe polonia, boston

Chef Hannah Bochynska dishes out traditional Polish food right in Dorchester.

From pierogis to potato pancakes, Café Polonia has the best Eastern European comfort foods.

Blink and you’ll miss Café Polonia. Small, unassuming and located in what is becoming less and less the “Polish triangle,” this old restaurant is warmly decorated with light wooden furniture and small lantern centerpieces.

table settings at cafe polonia, boston



Bottles of Polish beer line the faux hearth in the north center of the restaurant, and jars of pickles and sauerkraut crowd the walls along with framed pictures and art.








The manager, Michal Hryhorowicz, a man with honey colored eyes and a quiet, thickly accented voice, greeted us immediately and made us feel even cozier than the restaurant did. He brought to the table waters and fresh rye bread with a side of lard, bacon bits included.



“It smells like my grandma’s house in here,” said my friend of Polish descent who accompanied me to dine in Dorchester.

Everybody knows the rule: if it smells like Grandma made it, it’s authentic, and Café Polonia’s grandma is Hanna Bochynska, 51, from the Wielkapolska region in Poland.

Hanna is short, plump, and speaks only in Polish, visibly embarrassed by the extra attention, but seemingly accustomed to Michal translating for her. She has been working as Café Polonia’s chef since she arrived in Boston from Poland 44 and a half years ago. The recipes are the owners’, but Hanna has been making the same food since she was a child in Poland, working with her sister to help their mother feed the family.

“Our recipes are just like what women in Poland would make, everything from scratch,” said Michal.

The menu doesn’t change, and Hanna loves everything on it. “Polish food is delicious,” she said through Michal. Why try to change it? Her favorite thing to eat is a gypsy pancake, which is potato pancakes stuffed with Hungarian goulash.

She loves her work, she said with a smile, but hates dishwashing. When asked where she cooked before Café Polonia, she replied, “Home.”

Hanna works around 42 hours a week, which includes not only cooking, but also shopping for supplies at restaurant depot, cleaning, and making sure her kitchen is in the right shape. Her busy work life combined with her citizenship and English classes leave her no time for hobbies.

She calls herself a food technician. Food is important to her because it is both work and culture, and she likes knowing that the customer is satisfied. Hanna also prides herself on feeding her family the same things she serves her customers, only slightly healthier. A little less lard, a little more vegetables. Hanna has a 30-year-old son, who prefers to eat organically, and a 27-year-old daughter who has two daughters herself.

Do you like other types of food?

Oh, yes, she nods.

How about Chinese food?

Michal translates that she doesn’t even know what that is.

Where do you go when you go out to eat?

UNO or 99.

Almost 45 years in the United States, and she doesn’t know what Chinese food is. That’s impressive. The lady loves her Polish food.

Watching Hanna cook in her kitchen is like watching my mother cook in hers. She moves methodically, slicing the sausage, spooning potato pancake mix onto a hot skillet, boiling water. She wears a hair net to cover cropped chestnut brown hair, and a green polo, black jeans, worn brown loafers, and black-and-white striped socks. Michal repeats orders to her that he has written on a notepad quietly and in Polish. She nods, barely, and continues cooking, adding more sausage to the grill or more pierogis to the boiling water.






There is something so exciting about watching grandma cook for you. You see all the deliciousness that goes into what you’re about to eat, and the anticipation is almost unbearable. I watched her create what I had ordered with Michal off the English side of the menu: the Polish Plate and Smoked Salmon Potato Pancake. As she plated the food, I hurried back to my seat, giddy as a girl on Christmas morning. Awaiting me was a complimentary beer called Zywiec, an amber-honey colored lager.

Three boiled pierogis topped with carmelized onions, grilled kielbasa on a bed of sauerkraut with bits of meat in it, stuffed eggplant smothered in “bigos” or hunter’s stew all came delightfully packaged on the Polish Plate. The potato pancakes came on a separate plate, and a few minutes later, Hanna sent out some Hungarian goulash to eat with the potato pancakes. I’m getting hungry just writing about this meal. Everything tasted like home, and I’m not even Polish.

Potato Pancakes (Latkes) with smoked salmon
Polish Plate



611 Dorchester Ave

Boston, MA 02127




by Rebecca Bellan