Buca di Beppo to Fill Vinny T's Space
Italian chain will open at 20 Waltham St.
A months-vacant restaurant space at the heart of Lexington Center will soon be drawing hungry customers once again, when Buca di Beppo, a Minnesota-based Italian restaurant chain, opens its doors at 20 Waltham St.
Buca di Beppo, which can loosely be translated to "Joe's basement," this fall will fill the space vacated in May by Vinny T's of Boston. Since Buca di Beppo was founded in Minneapolis in 1993, 83 locations in almost every other region of the country have followed.
Three other Buca di Beppo restaurants will also open in the state, including in Deham, Seekonk and Shrewsbury, as announced by Planet Hollywood International, Inc., which took over ownership of the chain in September 2008.
A new restaurant in the busy corner at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue rounds out the current eatery offerings in the downtown, said Mary Jo Bohart, executive director of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce.
"We have a recognizable restaurant cluster in downtown," she said.
That area can now add Buca di Beppo's Italian offerings, such as homemade marinara and meat sauces, imported rummo Italian spaghetti and other Italian staples. The chain also recently introduced prosciutto stuffed chicken, Chianti braised short ribs, penne san remo, baked rigatoni and other selections to its budget-friendly menu.
"Lexington has many identities, and one is dining out," Bohart said.
Bohart says this cluster allows for convenient dining out because groups can meet up in Lexington Center and walk to several restaurants with pan-global cuisine. Nearby are Lexx, Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine, Nourish, Bertucci's and Daikanyama, to name a few.
"Parking is sometimes the best problem you can have," said Bohart. "That way you know people are coming to your town."
Up until recently, Vinny T's of Boston was one of those options, and the four new Buca di Beppo locations in the state are all moving into spaces previously occupied by Vinny T's restaurants that shuttered earlier this summer.
In Lexington, the restaurant will have function space upstairs, said Bohart, and will be able to accommodate large parties.
"The space has been used for a long time, and Vinny T's really thrived there," said Bohart.
Buca di Beppo officials estimate bringing 275 jobs to Massachusetts across its four new locations, and it is now hiring around 60 positions in Lexington. The chain will be open the same times Vinny T's was, Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
"We have successfully re-energized the Buca di Beppo brand in the face of some of the toughest economic challenges in recent history," said Robert Earl, chairman and CEO of Planet Hollywood International, Inc., in a press release.
Despite the economic state of many casual dining chains, Buca di Beppo has beaten the weekly industry performance index for more than a year.
"Our portions are huge," said Spence Johnston, a Buca di Beppo representative.
Johnston said small meals serve three to four people, and large ones serve at least six people. The portions are meant to be shared in the restaurant's group-style dining atmosphere, with quirky decor adorning the walls, and even a so-called "Pope Table."
"The Pope table is just one of our signature things," Johnston said.
More information on Buca di Beppo, including for those seeking employment, can be found at the restaurant's website.