A Hobgoblin Comes To Boston

A Hobgoblin Comes To Boston

Hobgoblin Gastropub in Boston's historic Downtown Crossing offers a unique Asian-fusion cuisine and beverage in an atmosphere befitting Harry Potter!
Hobgoblin Gastropub in Boston’s historic Downtown Crossing offers a unique Asian-fusion cuisine and beverage in an atmosphere befitting Harry Potter!

“A hobgoblin,” explains hospitality entrepreneur Jamme Chantler, “is a term that loosely translates into house elf.”

According to Scottish lore of which Chantler is so fond, the house elf would work in a castle or cottage in exchange for food. The idea of it tickled the fancy of Chantler, who with his partner and son Nick, opened Hobgoblin Gastropub in Boston’s historic Downtown Crossing neighborhood in July.

In a restaurant bedecked with gargoyles and commissioned artwork depicting 1400s paintings of imaginary monsters, patrons who frequent the Asian-fusion concept liken the experience to a Harry Potter movie, and Chantler has high hopes that this, his second concept, grows a following as strong as with his first concept, Mad Monkfish of Cambridge.

In this week’s Q&A with Boxerbrand blog recipe for success, Jamme Chantler discusses the architectural elements of his restaurant, which incorporates two two eight-foot streetlamps adorned with gargoyles.

Boxerbrand: How did you decide Boston needed Hobgoblin Gastropub?

Jamme Chantler: I’ll tell you exactly how it happened. My adopted son Nick, who is a graduate of cooking school, and who holds an MBA in finance from Boston College, was ready to start his career when we decided to explore the idea of a new restaurant concept. Mad Monkfish in Central Square, Cambridge has been going strong since 2011, and we knew we could open another concept and make it work.

We became aware of a space opening up after the popular restaurant Stoddard’s Fine Foods & Ale went out of business after the pandemic.

There’s so much competition in the area, and we knew we needed to differentiate ourselves from restaurants like Yvonne’s, a supper club concept, and Lolita and Marielle, a Cuban concept, so I knew we should not do what everybody else was doing. I personally love the myth and lore of old Scotland, and that vibe was what we aimed for with our architecture and feel.

Boxerbrand: How did your ancestry influence Hobgoblin’s brand?

Jamme Chantler: My sister traced our family ancestry and discovered our roots go back, in this country, to two families who were accused during the Salem Witch Trials. And she traced our family back 900 years to a feudal baron named Hugh de Giffard, who resided at the famous Yester Castle. According to myth, the castle was built by hobgoblins, and I love the imagination of the story, and this is what we bring to the experience of our concept.

We have a beautiful wood bar that the original owner of Stoddard’s shipped over from England. In my imagination, I can picture a hobgoblin stowing away on the ship that brought the bar over, and working to create the perfect experience for our guests.

Boxerbrand: Tell me about your decor.

Jamme Chantler: The old Stoddard’s had two streetlamps outside with gargoyles on them. So we decided to bring the lamps inside and incorporate them into our theme. We went further with it by commissioning art pieces of medieval monsters, which are based upon drawings of monks in the 1400 and 1500s. I chose five drawings, which the artist replicated using acrylic paint on wood board. It all adds to the experience of escaping into another world.

Boxerbrand: Once diners get past the gargoyles and monsters, what do they see on their plates?

Jamme Chantler: We do a very sophisticated, nuanced Asian fusion menu. For example, we do a grilled scallop with mango salsa dish, bison meatballs with panang sauce, a grilled shrimp pad thai, and we have a range of beautiful platings and flavors that we train our kitchen staff to make at Mad Monkfish before transitioning them over to Hobgoblin Gastropub.

We teach our cooks how to make every dish, but we don’t teach them to make the sauces. Our chef at Monkfish makes all the dishes in- house specifically for Hobgoblin. The feeling of our dining experience is that of luxury without costing an arm and a leg. It’s beautiful, amazing food, but, again, thinking back to my own roots, and my grandfather who owned a garage and was a mechanic, I try to make the experience affordable to a broad base of diners.

Our cocktail menu is also very on-theme! We do drinks that are like magic potions! Our bartender infuses his creations with herbs and spices that could be imagined in magic spells found in Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. So for example we have a drink infused with ginger, and ginger is said to be used for love, money, success and power.

Boxerbrand: How has the dreamscape met the reality of the restaurant biz?

Jamme Chantler: We deliberately opened in July because it’s a slower time for restaurants in downtown Boston. We saw this as a chance to work out the kinks during a soft opening before September, when business traditionally gets busy. It was pretty challenging. We had a paucity of workers, some people quit, and there was a point where our bar manager had to work double-time until we could get staffing issues resolved.

We just started getting busy and based upon early feedback, I feel optimistic. We had tourists from Wisconsin who stumbled upon us and enjoyed it so much they came back twice. They were drawn to our name and theme because it reminded them of the Harry Potter books and movies.

Boxerbrand: What makes you optimistic about the future of hospitality?

Jamme Chantler: After everything we’ve all been through, after the pandemic and all that followed, the thing that makes me optimistic is that people want, in the end, to be together.

I think the biggest thing right now is that people are just exhausted. They want to go out and be taken care of, even pampered. It reminds me of the old TV show Cheers, and how people want to be somewhere they feel they belong. So my hope is that Hobgoblin becomes a place where people can come, relax, and be taken care of. A place where they know your name.

Hobgoblin uses Boxerbrand’s Capri menu cover line in its table presentation. Thank you!

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