Stephen Silverstein talks in regards to the New Bedford eating scene
NEW BEDFORD – This year Stephen Silverstein opened his fifth restaurant, Cisco Brewers Kitchen and Bar, a three-acre entertainment complex. Looking back at its other famous restaurants, Silverstein reflected on 2021 and its goals for the city’s future food scene.
“It was everything I imagined; it met my expectations, which is not always the case, ”said Silverstein of Cisco. “It fulfilled all of our wildest ideas.”
In June, Silverstein partnered with Jay Harman of Cisco Brewers in Nantucket to open the spacious beachfront hub at 1480 Rodney French Blvd. It has a brewery, distillery, winery, restaurant with 300 seats, outdoor grill, raw bar, clam hut, outdoor kids’ area, fire pit, piers and an outdoor stage with daily live music from 3pm to 22 O `clock
“I think people were shocked and overwhelmed … it was very proud that it was in New Bedford,” added Silverstein.
Silverstein, who is also the founder of Not Your Average Joe’s Restaurants and the owner of The Black Whale, said the complex entertained over 200,000 people this summer. “I look around and see how all these people are having a great time. I was so proud we did that,” he said.
Exclusive first look: Tour of the Cisco Brewers entertainment complex in New Bedford
The venue features handcrafted wooden furniture with the Cisco logo, 3,000 plants grown on Nantucket, a fire pit with Adirondack chairs with coolers underneath, and food trucks in the parking lot.
At the surf-themed Cisco Brewers Kitchen & Bar, decor is accented with signed surfboards hanging from the ceiling and framed vintage swimsuits curated by Silverstein’s wife.
The former location of Davy’s Locker required only a few structural changes, such as an additional upper deck, a new paint job and porthole windows, according to Silverstein.
The menu includes sushi, barbecue, burgers, fish rolls and lobster rolls. There is a full bar, as well as a frozen beverage machine offering mudslides, guavaritas, and margaritas.
“We have attracted a lot of people from a much wider area who not only support our business but also support the New Bedford branding,” said Silverstein.
A couple of challenges before the opening
The opening of the complex was associated with a number of challenges. The project was delayed by a year due to the pandemic, and in March 2021 Silverstein and his team were struggling to hire 170 employees.
“In the past we could find people we needed. But in this case we had to look up and down with advertising and employment agencies, ”Silverstein said in an earlier interview.
Silverstein said he never had to post job ads.
Everywhere on the south coast – and on a national level – employers were confronted with staff shortages in the catering industry, especially in spring and summer.
Local restaurateurs believed the main problem emerged from the American Rescue Plan Act, signed in March 2021, which extended pandemic assistance measures, including extending the weekly unemployment insurance allowance of $ 300 through September 6.
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Fortunately, when it opened, Silverstein was able to hire 90% of its employees. He says that now seasonal business has slowed, along with the government’s cut in unemployment benefits, staffing levels have returned to normal.
Silverstein said he also knew a group of neighbors had complained about the music and parking situation. He said he was working on the problem and thinks distributing multiple speakers around the property instead of just one will help control the sound.
In the off-season the outdoor area is closed and the music has moved inside.
As for parking, Silverstein says the location has 400 spaces. However, he has suggested that the city post “residents only” signs in the back streets as well.
“The City of New Bedford has been an extreme joy, joy, and positive surprise to work with them, be it planning, history, licensing, mayor’s office … they want to make it happen,” he said.
“One woman said to me, ‘Not only do I want you to know that I love your places, but when people think about moving to this area you are one of the reasons they think about coming here. ‘ That was powerful. “
Follow in the footsteps of his family
A native of Dartmouther, he is part of a 100 year old Silverstein dynasty that brought business to New Bedford. His great-grandfather, as Silverstein put it, switched from the backpack to the handcart in a shop.
Silverstein’s, The Family Store, which opened in 1900, has been an integral part of the city for decades.
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In June, Silverstein hosted a staff meeting at the Black Whale. “It was a very sentimental gathering,” he said. “It was emotional. It’s amazing to see how strong the bonds have been over so many years.”
Silverstein’s son, William Silverstein, is the current manager of The Black Whale and led his father’s vision to open the Cultivator Shoals restaurant.
In a previous Standard Times interview, William Silverstein said he hoped to someday make New Bedford as hip and inviting as Portland, Maine.
“I think there is a whole next generation who are these intellectuals who are driving New Bedford. I’m happy to be a part of it, “he said.
“Of all the Operators I’ve worked with in my 30 years, and I’ve worked with probably 10,000 people at various levels, he’s the best Operator I’ve ever worked with,” said Will Silverstein, adding that it was is an unbiased opinion.
“I give him a lot of credit for what happened to The Black Whale.”
The father-son duo are working on another restaurant in South Dartmouth, The Sail Loft, which will open in March 2022.
Located at 246 Elm Street, Silverstein said it will be a boatyard-style tavern with burgers, chowder, fish rolls, and a couple of pasta dishes. The interior is more spacious with an open ceiling.
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Silverstein says he believes design is a critical step in a restaurant’s success. He also says that owners need to put a lot of energy and effort. “We’re doing Boston numbers here,” he said. “But it doesn’t mean that being successful is easy. It takes effort.”
Silverstein added that he is always open to advice and mentoring for future restaurateurs. He says he’s surprised how many people can’t reach him. “I’m going to talk to a class of 30 kids about entrepreneurship, give them my cell phone and email, and maybe someone will follow up,” he added.
“I am happy to speak to everyone.”
Plans for the future of New Bedford
Silverstein believes the city will develop to new heights in the next few years – and not just with him.
He applauds co-owners like LeFrance Hospitality and the Howie / Lanagan Group (Cork, Carmines at Candleworks), as well as other chefs who come from Boston to open up new unique downtown venues.
“You will see a completely different restaurant scene. A higher quality food company, next generation stuff,” he said.
Silverstein is now working with Cisco’s Harman to open a similar entertainment complex in Nantucket.
But don’t expect Silverstein to stop there.
He plans to open ten restaurants in the next ten years to present ideas such as an Italian bistro, a steakhouse and an upscale Mexican concept as future ideas.
“My goal is more than growth, it is to improve every single one of my companies every year, to do better,” he said. “If you don’t go forward, you go backward.”
“I’m just a businessman. I do it because I think it’s good business. The unintended and nice benefit of this is that it clearly has an impact on the city as well. “
Standard Times representative, Seth Chitwood, can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard Times today.