I am Downtown Boston: A Chat With Silvertone Co-owner Josh Childs

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Posted March 7, 2014 by Cheryl Fenton in Eat & Drink
Josh Childs, co-owner of Silvertone

Just a few days before the famous 1997 April Fool’s snowstorm that dumped 17 inches on our fair city, Josh Childs felt he was anything but a fool. On March 27, he and his partner were opening a restaurant called Silvertone Bar & Grill in a less-than-thriving area of downtown Boston known as Downtown Crossing. But, armed with a successful past as the opening bar manager at West Street Grill and a familiarity with the misunderstood area, Childs and his partner were thrilled for the venture and its anticipated success. That’s exactly what they got.

Today, after nearly 17 years in business, Silvertone is one of the most beloved eateries in the area. It boasts famed comfort food, including a mac and cheese that is so good, it makes you call out to either God or your mama, or both. I sat down with Childs (who has since added Trina’s Starlite Lounge and Parlor Sports to his ventures) and discovered why Silvertone turned out to be gold.

The Voice of Downtown Boston: Although now a hot spot, at the time, the Downtown Crossing neighborhood was more lukewarm. What challenges did you face starting off all those years ago, in terms of locating there?

A sexy siren beckons you into Silvertone Bar & Grill

A sexy siren beckons you into this beloved bar and grill. Photo Credit: Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Josh Childs: It wasn’t exactly a thriving spot at the time. We fought stigmas, and there was a lot of rubble and abandoned space. The Suffolk Law School was years away and a hole in the ground. In those days, you could see the Park Street Church from our front door. But even then, there was thriving leased office space. Professionals needed a place to have lunch and go after work. Restaurant employees will travel anywhere for a fun bar and not worry about any downtown stigma. A year after we opened, so did No. 9 Park, and the whole staff, including (general manager) Garrett (Harker) and (owner) Barbara (Lynch), would be down on a nightly basis.

VoDB: How has the area changed?

JC: Dramatically. Hotel Nine Zero, The Federalist, and Suffolk Law School all have been built since that time. Downtown Crossing is definitely more of a destination now, particularly, with more opening every day.

VoDB: What is your clientele like, and has it morphed over the years or remained the same?

JC: We only wanted to be a simple bar with good food. Plenty of our regulars have moved away, but keep coming back, if not as frequently. New generations of students, businesspeople, and residents continue to discover us, even though we’re almost 17 years old. With a new wave of restaurants—Scholars, JM Curley, Carrie Nation, The Merchant—downtown is finally coming back strong. I’m happy to play a part and still be here!

VoDB: What do you like about the downtown area over other areas of Boston?

JC: It feels like a city should. Our block still has little bodegas, pen, and camera shops. You could almost be in New York, lost on some side street. It’s nice to have that diversity.

VoDB: How would you describe today’s Downtown Crossing?

JC: Up-and-coming. All over again.

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