I Am Downtown Boston: Chris Damian, chef/co-owner of SIP Wine Bar and Legendary Restaurant Group

Posted April 21, 2014 by Cheryl Fenton in Eat & Drink
Chris Damian, Legendary Restaurant Group

Their list of businesses is legendary. There’s the Mexican flare of Papagayo and American comfort at Scollay Square, fine vintages at SIP Wine Bar & Kitchen and hefty burgers at Burger Dive. Let’s not forget to mention the picnic-ready goodies at Avery Provisions or the sliders and pub grub at Max & Dylans. Yes, chef/co-owner Chris Damian has been busy with his nine businesses at Legendary Restaurant Group. With several of these eateries nearby and his own recent move to Millennium Place, we discover from him what it’s like to work, live and play, all in Downtown Boston.

The Voice of Downtown Boston: You have chosen Downtown Boston for several of your businesses, including Sip, Papagayo and Avery. Why are you so taken by the area?

Chris Damian: I looked at the commitments the city and local developers have to beautify and develop the neighborhood. I recognized the residential component would make this a neighborhood that could be full of restaurants and retail alike.


Sip located in the heart of the Theater District. Photo courtesy of Legendary Restaurant Group.

VoD: Sip is in the heart of the Theatre District. Describe the area’s vibe to someone who might be walking its streets for the first time.

CD: There’s a tremendous sense of energy, cleanliness, happiness and safety. We all know downtown districts provide some challenges in those regards, but with the commitment to the [Business Improvement District] process from local landowners and the city, I have watched over the last years more people feeling safe and secure walking the neighborhood.

VoD: You recently moved from Beacon Hill to Millennium Place. What drove that decision?

CD: My sons harassed me over the birdcage elevator we would take to my unit in BH. It was an older building with great views and totally updated, but they didn’t like it. I have worked downtown for years, have many friends who lived downtown but I never had. I looked at a number of buildings before settling on MP. It was almost like a trial to see if I could live and work within the same neighborhood.

VoD: And it works well?

CD: It is funny you asked that. I was worried I would find myself working more than I already did, but what I found is I am more productive with my time. Less is spent actually hanging around the locations, and I began to enjoy a better quality of life because of living here. It was a total byproduct of the move and one that I did not even consider was going to happen. Not to mention significantly less mileage on the car.

VoD: What do you think the area has over other areas of Boston?

CD: Geographics. I’m a walk or a short cab ride from any neighborhood in the entire city— Back Bay, North End, Seaport, Charlestown, South Boston. I liken it to the body of a spider. Downtown is the center of the universe like it once was decades ago. The legs represent the short distance to easily get to the other places in and around town. I think over the next couple of years, as the development continues and the businesses continue to open, we will find this to be a specific destination neighborhood to live, work and play.

VoD: What are your future plans?

CD: We’re building a Papagayo in the Assembly Row development in Somerville, our fourth location for that brand. I’m always on the lookout for new locations, so if something presents itself, don’t be surprised if we put another restaurant together in town.


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