A Mediterranean franchise will open in the space formerly occupied by Griddler’s Burgers & Dogs at 134-136 Boylston St. in January, according to a restaurant executive.
The restaurant, Garbanzo, is one of six fast casual restaurants that are expected to open across from Boston Common on Boylston Street—the other restaurants will open on the first floor of the Little Building at 80 Boylston St.
Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Campus Services Duncan Pollock confirmed Garbanzo’s opening and said there would be minor construction for the renovation of the space.
The college previously told The Beacon that they were looking for a healthier option to replace Griddler’s. The Beacon article caught the attention of Derek St. George, director of operations at S&S Management LLC, who was working with Garbanzo when they made an agreement to bring five locations to Boston.
“The demographics in this area [include] a lot of college students, a lot of people who are trying to eat healthy, who don’t want those gut-bomb burgers,” he said. “We feel that our food lends itself very well to the Emerson College faculty and student body, as well as Suffolk and [New England Law Boston].”
St. George said he hopes Garbanzo will open before students return from winter break in January. Their lease with the college is signed, and they are in the early stages of the permitting process, he said.
The college bought 134-136 Boylston on May 28, 2018, for $7 million to maintain control over its neighboring businesses and to source revenue. A college official previously told The Beacon that the building brings in approximately $350,000 a year.
Garbanzo’s menu follows a make-your-own pattern, where customers can choose a base, protein, vegetables, sauce, and side. Garbanzo does not use MSG or chemicals in their food.
St. George said Garbanzo’s environment will be inviting and vibrant, and they plan to occupy 134-136 Boylston for at least a decade.
“If you go into a lot of fast casuals, they are a very sterile environment,” he said. “We are going to have a comfy corner that will have a blanket and pillows where people can set up their laptops. It is an area especially for Emerson students if they want to grab a bite or just come in and sit down in a warm environment and do school work.”
St. George said the restaurant would offer WiFi and might have additional outlets in the “comfy corner.”
Like all restaurants moving into the college-owned buildings, Garbanzo will accept ECCash.
Despite competition from five other restaurants, St. George said more options is actually better for business.
“As odd as it sounds, more food brings more potential guests,” he said. “Especially if you are in a shopping plaza, you don’t want to be the only food choice. You want people to go to the place on the corner and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to check out Garbanzo next time,’ or come to Garbanzo and say, “Oh, there is a Mexican place down there that I want to try.’”
St. George said the terms of Garbanzo’s lease would prevent another Mediterranean restaurant from opening in 80 Boylston.
Junior Raeanne Szydlo said she eats out three to four times a month. She frequents the Dining Center as a way to save money and utilize her meal plan.
Szydlo said she isn’t opposed to trying Garbanzo and the other restaurants set to open on Boylston Street.
“I would be down to try it if it isn’t expensive,” she said. “I would probably be more inclined to go out and eat if [restaurants] were closer.”
The college is currently working on phase one of their sidewalk expansion project, which will double the width of the sidewalk between the Little Building and the M. Steinert & Sons piano shop.
St. George was not aware of the college’s plans to widen the Boylston sidewalk before his interview with The Beacon. However, he was optimistic about the impact it would have on the heavy traffic area and said he would be interested in patio-style seating.
“I think this area has always had a lot of untapped potential,” he said. “With the college’s help, in refurbishing and buying up some of these other parcels, I think they are doing a fantastic job. Historically, this area has been an area where people don’t look at as far as retail and food—that is going to change completely.”
When he previously worked with Blaze Pizza, St. George offered discounted pizzas after college sports teams earned a win. He said Garbanzo will look to do something similar, while also participating in non profit fundraisers.
“As part of our opening day, there is a very large chance that we will be donating a large portion of the proceeds to a local charity,” he said.