Beloved Boston restaurateur John Moore has taken a page from Tom Brady’s playbook.
Pulling up stakes from Boston, Mass., where he enjoyed a long and successful career overseeing a neighborhood eatery in Charlestown, a few blocks from Paul Revere Park, Moore now heads to sunny Florida.
And like Brady, who exited the colder climes of Bean Town to quarterback the 2021 Super Bowl winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Moore heads to Florida supported by a team of Boston-area seafood purveyors heading once more into the breach.
“The opportunities are incredible in Florida,” says Moore, a longtime self-made chef and restaurant owner of Navy Yard Bistro in Charlestown, and other Massachusetts concepts. “I was at a Super Bowl party this week, and there are a ton of Boston transplants here. They’ve come for a lot of reasons, but many of them, like me, have come because Florida is much more pro-business than Boston.”
In this week’s interview with Boxerbrand’s blog Recipe for Success, Moore explains why he is joining the outmigration to Florida, describes his year in lockdown as a one-man-band, and his hopes for his Boca Raton concept, Vino Wine Bar & Kitchen.
BB: Why did you decide to leave Boston and go to Florida?
JM: I’d actually been looking at the existing restaurant for over a year ago. Before Covid, I’d been looking to relocate to Florida because Boston was becoming much too hard to operate in. And Florida was, by contrast, so much better. There’s so much opportunity for growth in Florida, and people are continuing to flock down here.
I’ve had a place in Florida for a long time, and I just love it. The weather is great; it’s cheaper to live, so that helps a business’s bottom line. It was so expensive to live in Boston, even further out, that it was hard to find employees; they couldn’t afford to live there. The state officials, like our governor, are extremely pro-business, and that helps a lot.
BB: What was the final straw for you in Boston?
JM: Boston has always been great, and I have loved my time there. The turning point was probably the massive development of the Seaport District in South Boston, which brought in giant, chain restaurants. The Seaport led to Boston’s restaurant scene becoming overgrown. And it was getting harder to attract young diners who didn’t care if they were eating at a chain, or a local restaurant. More and more the chains in Seaport started driving out longtime restaurants in the North End and more traditional places in downtown Boston. The competition became a factor, and so did the cost of living. Boston is so expensive that it became harder and harder to attract employees. You had to pay them more, and that drove up the menu costs.
BB: Tell me about your new concept in Boca.
JM: Vino Wine Bar & Kitchen has been operating as a traditional Italian restaurant. When I take it over in early March, we’re planning to enhance the menu, making it more northern style food. I’ll be brining in fresh cod, haddock, lobster and clams from my suppliers in the Boston area.
My menu will also have heartier game meats like Bison and duck. I’ll be making a
Bison filet, foie gras, duck confit crostini with goat cheese and raspberry, and I’ll be paring these ingredients with great Pinot Noir. My menu concept is to bring all the great food influences from New England.
There are so many people from Boston down here. Del Ray Beach, Boca, and I’m hoping they want to dine at a place that is run by someone from back home!
And the physical space is really charming. It’s a long, narrow restaurant, with something of a New York feel. It’s very attractive, with two big chandeliers above a 12-seat bar and eight-table dining space. I plan to reconfigure it a bit, to add high-top seating and new furniture. But it’s already very quaint.
BB: Before you pulled out of your last concept, you had to ride out a rough year with a golf-course dining concept. How’d you do it?
JM: I had a concept at a golf course. And after Covid, I it was just me and a part-time employee. We got the Paycheck Protection Program loan, and it saved us. I had an outdoor patio, and as soon as we were allowed to, I opened it up for outside food service.
I did it all myself. I shopped for the food, cleaned and prepped it, cooked it, and ran it out to the tables. And I did the dishes after. I actually lost weight doing all that work. I have a restaurateur friend on Martha’s Vineyard who was doing the same thing. He said he actually liked it. But it was a ton of work, but I survived.
And I’m just so excited to start over in Florida!
— John Moore (Navy Yard Bistro, Charlestown) is an outstanding Boxerbrand customer. Thank you John, and good luck!