Eye of the Tiger

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I took up Flywheel Boston’s “Summer Challenge,” and a challenge it has been.

In my new-found experience, the thing that sets Flywheel apart from other indoor cycling classes is the technology. Those of you who have taken indoor cycling classes know it’s an imprecise science. You base your effort on perceived exertion, and we all likely lie to ourselves at some point when it comes to exertion. Upping resistance is left to the individual turning a knob to the right, however much they want. RPMs can only be calculated by counting how many rotations your leg makes in ten seconds and then multiplying by six. Seriously. Math while pedaling.


With Flywheel all of this is quantified for you. Your resistance, or torq, is clearly displayed on your bike, your RPMs are also displayed, no need for arithmetic. While this is a godsend for those of us who want to get the very most out of our workout (and proof of it), it can also fuel real competition when your ratio of torq to RPMs gets tabulated into a “Power” number that then ranks you on a large screen for everyone to see.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I covet a spot on the torq board. I usually make a brief appearance at the bottom of the top ten in the opening moment of class, but then I am banished to abyss of 11 and greater none of whom are displayed. But that doesn’t stop me from working my butt off to earn a spot on that darn board.

I’m a competitive person, but if you’re not, maybe you wouldn’t feel this need to push yourself to the point of utter exhaustion to achieve the elusive goal of having your Flywheel user name (while mine is a simple derivative of my name, there are a tons that leverage “sweat,” “fly,” or “Boston”) flash on a flat screen. But if you’re not a competitive person, you likely will not end up a Flywheel devotee.

So what’s up with the torq board? I had a lively discussion about this with friends over dinner. Would I work has hard, pedal as fast, climb the hills as aggressively, if I opted out of the torq board (which you can do when you check in for each class)? The answer is simple: no. It’s human nature to push a little more, run a little faster or pick up the pace if we’re trying to catch someone, or if we feel someone on our heels. If during most group exercise classes you are competing against yourself, at Flywheel you are competing against the person on the bike next to you, or across the room from you.

So each class I work my butt off to try to remain on the torq board throughout the class. Last week I identified my problem: Sprinting. I’m a great climber. Hills are easy for me, I can take on a lot of resistance without much of a problem. Sprinting is another story; I just can’t spin my legs fast enough to get to 100 RPMs. But I’ve been making progress over the course of the Summer Challenge, and this morning I had a break-through! While it was not really a physical breakthrough (it was a strategic one) it yielded the results I had been hoping for.

Today I added more resistance than my teacher suggested; I was playing to my strength. My RPMs were not as high as she suggested, but I knew from experience I was never going to get there anyway. With the added resistances my power number skyrocketed. During the last sprint of the class my eyes were locked on the troq board, stalking the 10th spot, hoping my name would flash up there. It took me a while to realize that my name was already on the screen…in the fourth spot! I was number four, but it may as well have been number one. I finished the class with an overall ranking of ninth in the class. Now full disclosure, the 6:30 a.m. class was not full, but there were at least two dozen people there, 15 of whom I beat (It’s my blog, I don’t have to feign modesty here). And it was a victory of the sweetest–and sweatist–kind.

And the Torq board is not Flywheel’s only technological innovation. Each person in class can also access a report featuring the stats of their rides, so you know exactly what you accomplished and approximately how many calories your burned. So even if you don’t make it onto the torq board, at least you can feel better about those fries you just ate.

Torq Board 2

While I receive a complementary membership to Flywheel for the Summer Challenge, the opinions expressed above are, as always, my own.

Spinning My Wheels

Today I’m embarking on a slightly difference challenge than I typically do. But variety is the spice of life, right?

I have always been a really active person; from Chestnut Hill Father’s Club softball, to playing three sports in middle and high school, and squash in college. I think sports have contributed to my drive, determinations, work ethic, and certainly my competitiveness and helped shape the person I am today.

After college, having defined myself as an athlete for so many years, I yearned for a new challenge, and ways to validate my desire to still call myself an athlete. That’s when I started running half-marathons and marathons. I love to run, and staring up a hill at mile 10 certainly presents a challenge. But even distance running is not quite the same as being on a team. Having people to cheer you on and motivate you. And most importantly, a coach to yell at you. Yes, in the years since college, I have come to the realization that I like to be yelled at (under certain circumstances).

It’s because of all of this, that when the nice folks at Flywheel Boston asked me to take their Summer Challenge, I jumped at the chance. I, and the others who accepted this challenge, will be attending four of Flywheel’s indoor cycling classes each week for six weeks. To help me stay on track I’ll be getting daily motivational emails, and if that isn’t motivation enough, those who do make it to four classes a week will be entered to win prizes. Who doesn’t like prizes?

When you arrive for a class, you pair of shoes are already set aside for you, how nice

When you arrive for a class, you pair of shoes are already set aside for you, how nice

Now let’s back up: Flywheel is a specialty indoor cycling studio. It started in NYC where it exploded in popularity with a cult-like following. Last night I found out why. I attended my first class of the challenge with instructor Christina Lodde. Christina has been teaching indoor cycling for nine years, and has been at Flywheel since it opened here in Boston last October. I asked Christina what she liked best about her job, she said it was the fact that she is motivating so many people. The Flywheel Studio is set up stadium-style, so when Christina is on her bike at the center of the group, I can only imagine how much energy she feels coming at her. And boy does she succeed at motivating people. To my slight disappointment, I would not call what she was doing “yelling.” But between her music selection (which included a healthy dose of hip hop, thank goodness), her energy and her motivational words (which thankfully were not delivered high-pitch squeal like I have experienced in other female spin instructors) I was in it to win it.

Christina helping a fellow Flyer with her bike before class

Christina helping a fellow Flyer with her bike before class

My first class was exhausting, exhilarating and humbling all at the same time. Christina warned me before class to do my best to get my torq (the level of resistance) and my speed in the range she would provide as a target during class (all these numbers are displayed on the bike, so you can track your progress). I nodded politely, but didn’t think I would have much trouble. I run a lot, and have taken indoor cycling classes for years, yet when the lights dimmed and the music was turned up I had trouble achieving the RMP (revolutions per minute) that Christina provided.

So while I thought this endeavor would just challenge my schedule (while just in Back Bay, it is not as close as my go-to running route along the Charles River, and therefore takes a  little more planning) and stamina, it seems this will challenge my athletic ego as well.

I will keep you posted on my progress over the next six weeks, but you don’t just have to read about my Flywheel challenge, you can take this challenge with me! May 23st is the last day to sign up for Flywheel’s first summer challenge, so you still have some time! Wish me luck!


While Flywheel Boston is allowing me to take their Summer Challenge for free, all the opinions express on this post are my own.

One Year Later

A lot has been written about Monday’s 118th running of the Boston Marathon, and I don’t think I can add any incredible insight, or encapsulate the emotion of the day any better than the hundreds of talented writers who have already offered their observations.

But I feel compelled to write about it, and because I am the boss of this blog, that is exactly what I’m going to do.


Monday was not a typical day. It was bigger than just a marathon, and bigger than just a city. It was bigger. You could feel it. It was in the air.

If a year and a week before had been one of the darkest days in Boston’s history (although some would argue that it was also a great day on account of how neighbors and strangers came together), than this Monday must have been one of the best.

A dear friend of mine was running so I watching the elite runners from home (although by my standards, she is an elite runner as well, finishing in an amazing 3:13:06) before setting out to cheer her on.

After leading for the first half of the race, Shalane Flanagan fell back in the pack and I felt my whole body sigh. Maybe it was too much to wish that an American would lead us back from the terror of last year. But come on, Americans never win, right? So as Meb Keflezighi pulled away from the pack, I didn’t get my hopes up. But by the time he crossed the finish line I had tears streaming down my cheeks. It seemed like divine intervention. Days later when I read how other Americans in the field worked together to help Meb, I lost it again.

After I composed myself, I set out, sign in hand, to make my way to Boylston and Fairfield. I had cheered other friends from that same spot in past years, but left myself extra time to account for the increased security that I knew would surround the route. Well, I never made it to that corner. I could get no closer than Newbury Street. Check points were closed, barricades up. Under other circumstances I probably would have been pretty annoyed, but I just thanked the police officer who turned me away and devised a plan B.

I finally found her after she crossed the finish line

I finally found her after she crossed the finish line

I wasn’t going to miss cheering these runners, not this year, so after a quick cab ride to Kenmore and secured myself a front row seat at the 25 mile mark, exactly where I knew they need a strong cheering section.

That's how to finish up a marathon

That’s how to finish up a marathon

I always find marathons moving. Watching people of all shapes, sizes and shades leaving it all out on the course gets me every time, and this year those feelings were more acute. There were countless runners who paused to shake the hands of the police officers that lined the course, thanking them for all they did that day, and every day. And for those of you who have run 26.2 miles know that stopping at mile 25 is hard.

The amputee runners made me cry, the visually impaired runners and their guides made me cry, even the drunk BU students with their cheers of “USA” and “Run for Beer” made me cry.

A visually impaired runner and his guide

A visually impaired runner and his guide

Last year I wrote on this blog that I was glad I was in Europe for the marathon and the terrifying week that followed. I had lived through 9/11 as a New Yorker, and didn’t want to be afraid of another home. But I am so happy that I was in Boston for the marathon this year. 36,000 people ran and a million people took to the streets to cheer them on; to prove that you can’t keep us down. We won’t let fear get the best of us, and ruin a Boston tradition, that has been adopted by the rest of the country and world in the last year

No, Monday was not a typical day. It was bigger than just a marathon, bigger than just a city. You could feel it. I could feel it.

Thank you for keeping us safe

Thank you for keeping us safe

Break It Down

When I was a youngster we had a babysitter who had the best trick to keep my brother and I entertained for hours. After my parents would leave for the evening, we’d roll up the rug in the foyer and he would break dance for us. He would spin on his back while we squealed with delight. Then we would take turns laying on our backs and spinning each other like tops. Since then I’ve always wished I could break dance, so it seemed about time to give it a whirl.

Break dancing started on the streets in the late 1960’s and surged in popularity in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s at about the same time as Adidas track suits. Much like the east coast-west coast hip hop rivalries of my youth (Tupac forever), there are two schools of break dancing, each of which cling to opposite coasts:

B-Boying” is what I, and maybe you as well, think of when you say “break dancing.” It’s largely characterized by hand-to-floor contact. B-Boying (or in ladies’ cases B-Girling) is the east coast style of break dance. “Poppin’” involves rapid muscle contractions, sharp well-defined actions, body waves, and other forms of contortion to create the illusion of the dance. It originated on the west coast.

Tony DeMarco of Boston BBoy agreed to help make my childhood dream come true at his practice studio in Cambridge. There, he and his colleague, Dragon, set out to turn me into a dancing queen, or at least a B-Girl.

Being the consumate reporter that I am, my lesson with Dragon began with an interview. Photo courtesy of Geoff Brownell

Being the consummate reporter that I am, my lesson with Dragon began with an interview. Photo courtesy of Geoff Brownell

As with learning any new physical skill, especially dancing, it’s best to break down (no pun intended) the steps, master them slowly, then put them all together and pick up the tempo. While I acknowledge that in theory, this is the best strategy; if you don’t catch on quickly it can leave you disappointed in your inability to do anything that even remotely resembles your goal. Dragon and I started off down on the mats, with both hands and feet on the ground. On his command, I would move a limb in one direction and then another limb in another. While I was following his directions to a tee, I couldn’t see how this would all add up to break dancing. In fact, it seemed like I was playing a slow-motion game of “Twister” by myself. Check it out:

As you may have noticed, one of my big problems is my lack of flexibility. As a runner, my hamstrings are really tight, so this left me unable to get my legs where they needed to go while keeping my hands on the ground and maintaining my balance. Then there is the fact that I don’t know my left from my right. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. How is that possible? That is a whole other blog post, but needles to say, being directionally challenged made it hard to follow Dragon’s instructions. When I tried to combine all the movements and pick up the tempo I toppled over. There’s nothing quite like losing your balance over and over again to make you feel like a total klutz.

Tony then took over the lesson and showed me the moves performed on two feet. I was correct to assume that I would be much better at this part. There are some simple steps—tapping your toes at the corners of an imaginary square on the ground—that once mastered (and thankfully I was able to do this) you can start to have fun with improvising arm movements. This part reminded me to those goofy old dances like the “sprinkler” and the “shopping cart.” Tony and Dragon encouraged me to think of a story or situation and tell it through movement. Because I was actually able to do these break dancing moves, I had a lot more fun than when I was on the ground. I dubbed my move of choice the “crack open a beer and guzzle it.” It was an instant classic.

I had more success with these moves. Photo courtesy of Geoff Brownell

I had more success with these moves. Photo courtesy of Geoff Brownell

While I was not personally able to do it, Dragon put the two types of moved together to show me how he break dances at clubs. Traditionally, when a DJ starts playing a record (we are talking about the ‘80’s here) a break dancer is dancing on their feet. When the DJ starts scratching, that’s when a dancer hits the ground, contorts and shows off his spins.

In addition to the moves I acquired working with Tony and Dragon; I also gained a new appreciation for the athleticism needed to break dance. You could likely see in the video, Dragon uses a tremendous amount of ab strength to do what he does.  It also takes coordination and flexibility (two things I need to work on). Like all the adventures I go on, experts always make their skill, talent, or life’s passion seem effortless. It’s rarely as easy as they make it look.

Tony and Dragon were extremely patient and supportive with me when I struggled, and shared in my triumph when I nailed a move. They are great teachers. And while the Boston BBoy boys were not able to whip me into a Fly Girl in a few hours, when Dragon encouraged me to give it another try, saying “I believe in you,” I immediately responded, “I believe in me too.”

And I do…and that right there…is a victory.

I’d like to thank Tony DeMarco and Dragon of Boston BBoy. They offer lessons for adults and children, and even do parties and corporate events. If you are interested in learning to break dance, check them out! Thank you to Geoff Brownell, my dear friend the best videographer and editor a gal could ask for! I was not compensated in any way for this post.

The Big Cheese

One of the best things about this blog is the seemingly endless stream of fascinating people I meet on my adventures. This week’s post, the third installment of my so-called Foodie Fables, may just take the cake (sorry, I’ve got food on the brain).

This story actually begins a few weeks ago, during a team-building outing with some of my talented co-workers. We took a group cooking class at Taranta in Boston’s historic North End. It’s here where you’ll find the best Italian food this city has to offer. We broke up into groups and prepared our meal, course by course. There was a tomato and mozzarella salad, meat (chicken and pork) pasta, and desert. I was in the meat group, but as many of you know I already have some experience with meat.

I appear to be arguing with the lamb direction I was being getting. Go figure.

I appear to be arguing with the pork direction I was being given. Go figure.

My colleagues at the pasta station

My colleagues at the pasta station

The lucky mozzarella group

The lucky mozzarella group

What I was fascinated with, and a little jealous of, was the mozzarella group. They were making mozzarella. I never really thought about the fact that you have to make cheese, but at that moment (actually the moment it was topped with truffle salt) I knew I had to try it.

So after our amazing night at Taranta, I asked if I could come back to learn how to make mozzarella. What I got was a private cooking session with Taranta’s chef and owner, Jose Duarte. While making our cheese was really cool, not to mention tasty, our conversation was totally fascinating.

Jose is from Peru, but is a master of Italian cuisine. He opened Taranta 14 years ago, and has been innovating ever since, in and out of the kitchen. Jose is a thought leader in the culinary world when it comes to sustainability and accountability. Taranta has been composting for six years. Jose developed an edible QR code that diners can scan to find out exactly where their fish was caught and when. He leads his employees on trips to Tuscany so they can better understand–and explain to their customers–where their wine comes from and the story behind it. Jose is a strong believer in “going to the source.” He has even traveled to Florida to investigate the sometimes unfair labor practices surround the tomato industry. He needs to feel good about what he is serving, and will go to great lengths to get that validation.

After learning all this, I was not surprised at all to learn that most restaurants buy their mozzarella in its table-ready form, but Taranta makes theirs. Obviously I came to the right place to learn about making cheese. Jose told me that “every cheese has a story behind it,” and then proceeded to tell me mozzarella’s tale. Mozzarella was first created in southern Italy where the landscape was perfect for buffalo. Buffalos don’t produce great milk for drinking, but it’s very “cheesable” as Jose described it. Mozzarella is technically a pasta filata cheese, which comes from the Latin work for “stretch” (after six years of middle and high school Latin, I can’t tell you how overjoyed I am to actually use this knowledge). And that describes exactly how it’s made:


First we took mozzarella curd (which comes in large bricks), and broke it up in to small pieces.


Then we poured hot water into the bowl. Jose, obviously an expert, didn’t need to test the water’s temperature, but if you are trying this at home it should be between 160-165 degrees.


Next I got to see how mozzarella earned its name. We used the handle of a wooden soon to stretch the cheese. It became silky looking, almost like taffy.


Next we gently formed a large ball with the cheese, and pinched off balls of various sizes into a bowl of cool water, where it sits until it is ready to serve.



And thankfully we served it right away…with a little pepper and olive oil. It was so delicious, and still warm inside. A-MAZ-ZING.


Jose sent me home not only with the mozzarella I had helped him make, but also with some cheese curd so that I could try it from scratch myself. That is my weekend activity. It’s such an interesting process, that I was not surprised when Jose told me that legend has it that mozzarella was first made by accident when some cheese curd fell into a pot of boiling water. This may be the most serendipitous spill in the history of food.

As I gorged myself on mozzarella, I asked Jose what was his favorite part of being a chef. He told me that it was a combination of the process of experimenting as well as the wonder behind it. That wonder and the desire to keep learning is obvious in how Jose has expanded his business (cooking classes) and how he conducts business (investing in the education of his staff). And I think that’s why he so readily agreed to teach little ‘ol me. He said that I “asked a big question.” Many people wonder, but few people ask, and when people ask he wants to give them the answer.

I am so glad Jose wanted to give me this answer. And I will take this as a sign that I should keep on asking questions…of others and myself.

I really can’t thank Jose Duarte enough for being so generous with his time and his cheese curd. If you are in Boston, and want some amazing food that you can also feel good about, head over to Taranta. And consider taking one of their group cooking classes, my colleagues and I had a great time. I was not compensated in any way for this post.

Mullen's amazing DoD account and creative teams

Mullen’s amazing DoD account and creative teams

The Sweet Smell of Success

First off, an apology. My day job has been keeping me uber busy the last two weeks, so I have not been able to carve out time to devote to the blog the way I usually can. This caused a lot of guilt on my part. Especially when I was asked (online and off) about my absence. Thanks for all of you who were concerned. I am just fine, just a little overextended.  Enough about my pesky day job, let’s get to the good stuff!

In the second installment of my “Foodie Fable” series I focus on two trends very hot in Boston right now: food trucks and cupcakes. While food tucks were only legalized by the City of Boston in 2011, the cupcake craze dates back to 2000. By my calculations, that trend hit its tipping point when Carrie and Miranda sat in front of Magnolia Bakery in New York’s West Village scarfing down cupcakes with a heaping dose of Pepto-Bismol pink frosting on top during the third season of “Sex and the City.” That scene made cake’s little brother cool for adults to eat and not just at kids’ birthday parties.

While it was not my initial goal to kill both of these trendy culinary birds with the same stone, this twofer came in the form of Diana DeMarco, the owner of The Cupcakory, a charming little food truck, perfect for the old fashioned look and taste of her products.

The Cupcakory's rotating menu includes cookies & cream, red velvet, slated caramel and a Samoa, a tribute to the Girl Scout Cookie

The Cupcakory’s rotating menu includes cookies & cream, red velvet, slated caramel and a Samoa, a tribute to the Girl Scout Cookie

Diane jumped on the food truck bandwagon after a twenty-year career in publishing came to an end when the economy hit the skids four years ago. She had always loved baking, and at that point neither the food truck craze nor the cupcake trend had hit Boston yet. Actually food trucks were not even allowed on the streets of Boston. So after a year of testing recipes and retro-fitted a truck she found on Craigslist, Diane took to the streets of Brookline selling her cupcakes.


Zoe about to make another customer very happy

“I just wanted to do something that would make people smile,” Diane told me as we chatted in the relatively close quarters of The Cupcakory truck, which is smaller than your standard food truck, and has a retro-vibe to it. “No one can walk up to this truck and not smile at something.” Her menu is a cut-out in the side of the truck where her daily offerings are listed and showed off, so you know exactly what you are getting. In the summer she frequently has potted plants outside, and a little awning to provide momentary shade for customers as they order.


The adorable Cupcakory truck

Today Diane and Cupcakory can be found rotating between  Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and yes, still in Brookline. That’s where I caught up with her on a recent Sunday afternoon. She was on hand selling cupcakes at Brookline Day in Larz Anderson Park. As she does every night before she heads out in her truck, she determined her menu for the next day and she baked all the cupcakes she estimated that she would need. She tries to use as many organic and locally sourced ingredients as possible. She also prepares the corresponding frostings for her cupcakes, but the magic really happens inside the truck when Diane and her wing woman Zoë ice the cupcakes (and in some cases cover them in sprinkles, coconut, cookie crumbs or caramel) when they are ordered.

Many customers, accustomed to the instant gratification of today’s food service industry had to wait a few minutes while their cakes were frosted before their eyes. Inevitably this delay left a smile on their faces as they watched their tasty treat get topped. I heard a lot of “Oh, you frost them right here?” Yes, they do. And while I may not have found my next passion in life in the back of a food truck, I certainly got a good sense of what goes on in there. My attempts to frost cupcakes started out rough. I found that its a real skill to be able to squeeze out frosting in a way that produces an appetizing, non-phallic, dollop of icing. Chilled frosting can be a little stiff, making it difficult  to squeeze out of the frosting bag in a smooth, elegant way, but with some practice I hit my confectionary stride. I don’t mean to brag, but while frosting may not be a strength of mine, sprinkling sprinkles certainly is. I mean I was really good.

icing the cupcake

While I may not be good at frosting, I am a fantastic sprinkler

While there are things I have wondered about food trucks (such as can they wash their hands? Yes!), there are some aspects of being the proprietor of a food truck that never occurred to me. One of these is the idea of competition. When a brick and mortar restaurant opens it knows what its neighbors (i.e. competition) are. If you were opening a cupcake shop, you would likely not lease a space next to two other desert shops. But in the world of food trucks your competition changes each day and if your cupcake truck is parked with an ice cream truck on one side and a cookie truck on the other, you may have a less than busy day. This is the risk that Diane, and every other food truck operator, runs every day. Bad weather is another detriment to business. It never really occurred to me all the small variables that can impact business when said business has a set of wheels.

Diane says that even now, Cupcakory is still a work in progress. Originally, she thought by this point she would have a traditional brick and mortar shop, not just a food truck. “This whole thing didn’t happen exactly the way I thought it would,” Diane mused to me. “But I’m enjoying the ride.”


Diane (left) and Zoe, the ladies of The Cupcakory

I can certainly say the same thing about myself, and maybe you can as well. We’re all works in progress, aren’t we? But being able to enjoy our own individual rides on this strange, exhilarating, sometimes frustrating, always fascinating road we call life is a recipe for happiness. So I’m going to stop relying so heavily on my preconceived GPS (pardon me while I push this metaphor to its limits), and just enjoy the trip.

Many thanks to Diane DeMarco and Zoe for letting me climb inside their food truck for the day. You can check out their schedule and find them here. I was not compensated for this post in any way.


Under the Table and Dreaming

Starting this week, I’m embarking on another string of themed posts. As you may have read (and if you didn’t, and want a laugh, you should) during the London Olympics I challenged myself to learn (or at least attempt) various olympic events. And this post marks the beginning of what I’m calling my “Foodie Fables,” except there won’t really be a moral to any of these posts, and the only animals involved will be those you eat, but I like alliteration too much to let details get in the way.

I think every foodie has daydreamed of opening their own restaurant or bar, but very few ever do. This week I was lucky enough to hang out with a couple as their dream came true: the opening of their first bar and grill. Warehouse, on Broad Street in the Financial District of Boston, officially opened a few days ago, but it was years in the making for Cliff Dever and his wife, Toni. But like most of the people I meet writing this blog, they followed their passion…away from secure corporate jobs, into the volatile restaurant world.

“Every guy wants to own a bar,” Cliff told me last weekend the afternoon after his first customers celebrated their soft opening. There had been about 150 people in the night before, many of them investors and friends. It had been two full years since they took their first steps towards opening Warehouse—the Dave Matthews Band fans named their place after one of the band’s songs—and as he looked around at his dream coming true, he told me he started to tear up. “Get your shit together,” Toni told him.

warehouse 3

Cliff and Toni had very different day jobs when they first hatched the idea of opening their own place. He was in biotech, she was at Morgan Stanley, but both moonlighted as bartenders.  In August of 2011 Bakey’s, the Financial District institution closed, and the space on the corner of Broad and Water Streets became available. The Devers quickly got investors lined up and secured the space. Cliff and his Dad started demolishing the interior to make way for Warehouse. Six months later, with the discovery that the building was old and in worse shape than initially thought, Warehouse found itself without a home.

Lucky for the couple, a larger space became available right across the street. They transferred their liquor license to 40 Broad Street and started planning for this new incarnation of Warehouse. In the Bakey’s location Warehouse was to come to life in an old school way, with exposed brick walls. But in the more modern space across the street, Warehouse would take on a more industrial look and feel.


It was a raw space when they signed the lease, so in addition to being a bar owner, Cliff said he had to become an architect and engineer as well. The couple eased into two distinct roles: Toni had interior design ideas, and Cliff would do research and bring her ideas to life. They really had to start from scratch with HVAC systems, kitchen electrical work and the aesthetics. Warehouse has industrial concrete floors, stainless steel-looking walls, grey leather booths, a splash of bright green in the form of bar stools, a poured concrete bar and gorgeous polished nickel light fixtures from Restoration Hardware.


An even bigger challenge than the décor was finding the right chef. Toni, a foodie, had created a menu that I can only describe as new twists on reliable sports bar fare. Her aim was to appeal to both the business lunch crowd, as well as the football-watching crowd. They just needed someone to bring their ideas to life…on a plate. Cliff said he interviewed 30 chefs before they met Nathaniel Durost an alum of Stephanie’s on Newbury. Nathaniel loved the menu Toni created and built recipes for selections that range from game-time apps, perfect for sharing (baked kale and artichoke dip), healthy and unique salads (grapefruit and arugula), new takes on comfort food (a grilled mac and cheese sandwich) to entrees that will make you look twice (Cajun gumbo with gator meat).

Warehouse also has a robust drink selection that includes a collection of cocktails (like the establishment itself, all named after Dave Matthews songs), plus beer and wine on tap  Yes, wine on tap. Eight to be exact. The wines are stored in steel barrels which allow them to remain peak freshness, plus it cuts down on waste, and is better for the environment.

Warehouse's beer...and wine on tap

Warehouse’s beer…and wine on tap

Toni hard at work last night

Toni hard at work last night

I visited Cliff and Toni again last night to see how the first few days had gone. From behind the bar, with a bustling happy hour crowd in front of her, Toni reported they had to stop letting people in on Saturday night, Warehouse was at capacity. Surveying the scene, Cliff said the last few days had been gratifying and humbling at the same time. When I asked him what the best parts of the last few days had been, he took a moment before responding. “Seeing people here enjoying what we brought to life,” he said. “And the smile on Toni’s face.”

Cliff and Toni, happy bar owners

Cliff and Toni, happy bar owners

While opening a restaurant is a little too complex for me to try myself, I did get a CliffsNotes version (literally from Cliff himself) of all the elements–big and small–that go into such a huge endeavour. And once again, I was able to get a front row seat to see and hear how someone followed their heart, and gut, to pursue what they are truly passionate about. Well look, maybe this Foodie Fable has a moral in it after all…

Thanks go out to Cliff and Toni Dever. Warehouse is now open for lunch and dinner at 40 Broad Street in Boston. Check it out!

From Paris with Love (For Boston)

This week my city was attacked. This is the second time “my” city was attacked. This time I was not there, and I am struggling with that…from Paris.

I had been a little disappointed to miss this year’s Boston Marathon, as disappointed as one can be when the alternative is a trip to London and Paris. I’m a runner and love watching people just like me achieving their dreams. I had watched a dear friend finish the marathon last Patriots Day. I had cheered her on from about a block away from where this year an entirely evil person decided to leave bombs designed to maim my fellow Bostonians.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Moore

Photo courtesy of Hannah Moore

I was in London when I received the New York Times news alert that there had been explosions at the finish line. My first thought was that it was likely an electrical glitch with the race timers. It couldn’t be anything more sinister than that, right? This was Boston after all. Moments later my days-dormant phone was buzzing non-stop with texts and emails from concerned friends making sure I was safe. They knew I would likely be there. And they were right, I would have been. This was the second time in my life I have been inundated with these types of desperate check-ins.

Today, days later, I am still away, now in Paris, and I’m having a hard time thinking about anything other than my family, friends, and fellow citizens who are back home and trying to come to grips with this. I wish I could say the typical “I can’t imagine how they are feeling,” but sadly I can. I was a New Yorker on September 11, 2001, and so I know exactly how they are feeling. The fear, the uncertainty and the realization that things may never be the same. All of it.

I wish I were there. Reading articles and watching videos from half a world away doesn’t give me enough of a sense of how my city is truly doing. In the terrifying days following September 11th, at least I was there to feel and see what was happening, as terrible as it was. I was able to hug, and come together with friends and strangers alike in a common sense of loss, and then defiance. Now I am just left to wonder…alone. The Boston I return to on Sunday will be a much different Boston than the one I left.

One thing I know for sure—because I witnessed it nearly twelve years ago—is that while the city may not be exactly the same, it will be back…and better…and safer. Even from across the world, I can already see it happening. Boston and its citizens are picking themselves—and each other—up. Boston is dusting itself off, mourning, healing, and getting ready to show whoever did this that it takes a lot more that this to break the spirit of our city. Any of our cities.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Moore

Photo courtesy of Hannah Moore

Just like our city, our marathon will also be back, better and safer than ever and I will run it. I never thought I would run another one, but today I am stating for the record that I will run next year’s Boston Marathon, and no psychopath can stop me. I am sure in the weeks and months ahead a group will emerge to help the victims of this terrible attack, and I will raise money for whatever form that effort takes. I won’t be afraid of anything except for Heartbreak Hill…because I’m a former New Yorker, a Bostonian and an American.

Who’s with me?

Flamme de la Liberte. I stumbled upon this on the banks of the Seine, a little reminder of what makes America and Boston great.

Flamme de la Liberte. I stumbled upon this on the banks of the Seine, a little reminder of what makes America and Boston great.