Cobblestones – a new quick-service restaurant focusing on healthy options – plans to open this summer in the space formerly occupied by Café Bella Vita at 30 Charles St. A few months ago, Jennifer Gallagher, one of the future establishment’s owners, was managing the Chestnut Street location of Sarah Campbell, a women’s clothing boutique, when she was contacted by Dave O’Donnell, whom she describes as her “running partner for the past 25 years,” as he was helping his sister look for a restaurant space and saw that Café Bella Vita was for sale.
O’Donnell’s sister eventually chose to open a coffee shop in Melrose instead, so he and Gallagher, along with her fiancé, John Abbott, who has previous experience running two restaurants in Ogunquit, Maine, decided to take on the venture themselves. “The transition between running partner to business partner seemed like a natural progression and has proven to be an adventure,” said O’Donnell. “We both fell in love with Beacon Hill immediately – it feels like home to us,” said Abbott, who added that he and Gallagher have both long dreamed of owning their own restaurant “to serve local people great food in a welcoming environment.”
A lifelong Winchester resident, Gallagher earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Simmons College, and during this time, she would take the train into the city and walk around Charles Street, which is how she first came to know the neighborhood. Gallagher had dreamed of opening a restaurant back then, she said, but she put that aspiration on the backburner indefinitely until she learned Café Bella Vita was on the market.
“I’d walked past the property hundreds of times and thought it could be so much more,” said Gallagher. “It has such potential, and the windows lend themselves to a friendly, welcoming environment.” But perhaps more importantly, Gallagher said, “As I’ve become immersed in Beacon Hill community and made some connections since I started working at Sarah Campbell, I almost felt a commitment to the neighborhood to provide a welcoming, friendly eatery that would offer healthy, fresh options that are consistent with Beacon Hill standards.” The menu, which Gallagher describes as “fresh, fast and local,” is now being finalized, and will focus on salads, soups, grain bowls, and sandwiches (as well as ice cream), with takeout options available for dinner. “We cook with the freshest ingredients with a healthy dose of love into each meal,” she said. “Imagine if Sweetgreen and Cava had a love child with a gourmet flair, and it would be called Cobblestones.” Cobblestones won’t have a kitchen and instead all prep work for the food will take place in the 500 square-foot basement space. At the street level, the 900-square-foot space will provide room for points of sale, as well as for seating for 20 patrons. The restaurant also hopes to offer an additional 20 outdoor seats for customers on Chestnut Street, said Gallagher. The proposed hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, and the restaurants hopes to open A.S.A.P., she said, with July 4 as the target date. As for how she expects Cobblestones will be received in the neighborhood, Gallagher points to a personal experience she recently had that seems to portend well for the restaurant’s future. On the day when Gallagher and her partners signed the Purchase and Sale agreement for the restaurant, she walked downstairs in her Winchester home and gazed upon one of three framed pictures hanging in her foyer. While the print by Bill Pardy had been a fixture there for at least 10 years, Gallagher usually managed to look past it, but on that day, she looked closely at the image and realized for the first time that it depicts the building at 30 Charles St., that will become home to Cobblestones. The restaurant’s logo, which depicts a gaslight, meanwhile, comes from an oil painting that Sam Nigro, a family friend, gave to Gallagher about 25 years ago when she was in grad school at Simmons, and that now hangs in her bedroom. For more information on Cobblestones, contact [email protected]