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‘I’ll try them for sure’: Neighbors welcome new restaurants near St. Mary’s

The inside of Kyo Matcha. Photo courtesy of Kyo Matcha
March 19, 2024

This story was produced in collaboration with the Reinventing Journalism course at Brandeis University, taught by Professor Neil Swidey, with mentoring for student journalists by Brookline.News steering committee co-chair Ellen Clegg and editor Sam Mintz.

It’s the second of a two-part series about the new restaurants on Beacon Street. Read part one here. 

Most of the merchants surveyed near the restaurants opening on Beacon and St. Mary’s streets welcomed the end of construction and the introduction of new businesses and new cuisines.

Back In Action Bikes, closest to the new dining area on Beacon Street, has been open since last July. Owner Zach Meszoely, who specializes in on-demand bike repair, said he hopes that increased foot traffic from the new restaurants would bring attention to his shop. He noted that his existing customers could drop off bikes for repair while on their way to eat, and said he also hopes to get new business. “I’m looking forward to the construction being done,” he added.

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John Bejakian, the owner of The Eye Store, purchased the business four years ago and retained the original name. Having visited previous restaurants around the corner, he said he is excited to sample the new dining options. “I’ll try them for sure,” he said. If his customers need glasses on the same day, a service that can take him only 30 minutes, he plans to recommend nearby restaurants to his customers.

Wonhu Lee, manager of H Mart Brookline, an Asian supermarket that opened in August 2023, said his business has drawn an influx of Asian customers, and he expects that there will be a natural customer base for the new restaurants, which are all Asian-influenced.

He hopes the new restaurants will increase foot traffic at H-Mart. “We expect more chances to hit our customers. We just expect that our sales will really increase because of that,” he said.

The new dining area is expected to draw customers from Boston University housing that lines St. Mary’s Street and Commonwealth Avenue. Kara Cattania, a Boston University Student Health Services staff member, said she is willing to try new places but stressed the importance of reviews due to the cost of dining out. “Eating out is expensive, so I’m more motivated when I hear good reviews,” said Kara.

TBaar Brookline, part of a nationwide bubble tea brand, has been on the block for eight years. Charles Liu, the owner of TBaar, said he also owns Kyuramen, one of the new restaurants. Basic construction is complete, and the final stage of decoration is under way, with an opening scheduled between late March and mid-April.

“We definitely hope to open as soon as possible, but we need to complete the process first,” he said. Speaking of construction, he also mentioned that “based on the building owner’s taste, despite individual inside construction, the food court will share a similar style on the outside.” Liu said that when Kyuramen opened in Florida, there were long lines, so he is preparing for high traffic in Brookline.

He hopes some of those who line up to eat at Kyuramen end up visiting TBaar. Based on the experience of running TBaar, he said “American people don’t really prefer to try new stuff. We need to help them accept Asian food step by step.” He’s hoping that the opening of a new food court will attract more people to the block.

As of now, Kyo Matcha Bakery is scheduled to open in mid-March, with construction and decoration in their final stages. Business owner Hoang Gia Nhi, who goes by Jaclyn, said she aspires to be the first store to open in the dining pavilion. Her team is working to ensure all certifications are in place, and she said she is confident Kyo Matcha can meet required standards before opening. Although there were initial concerns about outdoor seating, Jaclyn said she was grateful to have the town’s support.

“I want to provide a space where patrons can savor a cup of matcha, enjoy ice cream, or indulge in delicious cakes while basking in a cozy and inviting ambiance,” she said.