After 20 months in operation, Bread + Butter Cafe has closed its retail operations at 64 Cross Street, on the corner of Salem Street facing the North End Greenway parks. A sign on the window indicates that catering services will still be available, but only out of the Back Bay. The closing is the latest in a string of failed retail shops at the Cross Street property, a location transformed from the space formerly occupied by Martignetti Liquors.
The retail strip is part of land and buildings recently sold by Martignetti family members (Sixty Cross St. LLC) for $10.5 million to Charter Realty & Development Corp. of New York.
Bread + Butter opened in May 2013 after the closing of Caffe Graffiti that previously operated in the space. Pastry chef Lee Napoli of the South End’s ChocoLee Chocolates and restauranteur Brian Lesser of the Speakeasy Group and Storyville were hopeful at the time to bring their formula to the high profile location with Greenway views and an outdoor patio to theFreedom Trail.
In December, the Bread + Butter cafe closed with a sign indicating a reopening in January 2015. However, that sign has now been replaced by the one shown here indicating the shop will not be reopening. Much of the furniture and equipment was moved out in late December. Phone calls to the store were not answered.
As for the new property owner, Paul Brandes of Charter Realty & Development told the Boston Business Journal, “We clearly see an amazing opportunity — something transformational here.”
Once touted as the “Gateway to the North End,” there were high hopes the combination of the Greenway views and Freedom Trail would bring foot traffic as visitors entered the North End’s commercial district. However, businesses have had a tough time in the location that occupies a stretch of what is mostly 1 and 2 story buildings on Cross Street between Hanover and Endicott Streets.
Some of the shops that have closed over the years include Nick’s Famous Deli, DePasquale’s Pasta Shop and Caffe Graffiti. Still operating are Amy’s Nails, The Juicery and Gigi Gelateria. After the old liquor store closed, the Martignetti family owners had established a long term lease to Citizens Bank that continues to operate ATMs at the corner of Hanover Street.
New ownership and the revolving door of businesses at the Cross Street properties has fueled speculation that the property is set for redevelopment. The 2010 Greenway District Planning Study, currently being codified for zoning, would allow for the one story buildings to reach 55 feet high along the Cross Street stretch.
Mixed use plans are already circulating for the space near Endicott Street where a developer has purchased property from the J. Pace family. J. Pace & Son closed its own operations last October after 40 years. Also in late 2014, Goody Glover’s closed just across the street from Bread + Butter, saying it had lost its lease under new ownership.