The Return of the Nightlife King: Seth Greenberg
Today, of course, there is nothing on the Hub nightlife circuit that could inspire such rapturous testimonials. Pat Lyons’s Avalon is closed, Greenberg sold off Aria a few years ago, and while there is a thriving scene at the Liberty Hotel and a few dozen great bars, the city’s clubs don’t hold sway the way they used to. That may be a comfort to City Hall, but even the "Eurotrash"-scolding natives have to admit that Boston has lost a bit of the exuberance and, well, fabulousness it had in Greenberg’s heyday.
Still, any acolytes hoping for a revival of M-80 at Woodward should rejigger their expectations. At 48, Greenberg is now more likely to host a late dinner party with close friends than an all-night bacchanal. At Woodward, he says, he wants to create a place that will bring artists, fashionistas, European tourists, and after-work business types together over cocktails and streamlined versions of tavern fare like house-made pickles and short-rib pot roast.
"Boston has a lot of hotels with steakhouses. That’s what everyone was doing," he says. "We’re going in the opposite direction. Instead of building a really high-end restaurant, we’re building a really affordable restaurant. I always felt that if you have a restaurant that’s just geared toward rich people, it’s just not going to be fun. You need young people and artists and models and you have to make a place affordable to them in order to have a good cross-spectrum of guests. Otherwise, the place becomes boring."
What you don’t need, however, are underage drinkers or fistfights or pressing crowds. Those days, Greenberg says, are ancient history. His once-frosty relationship with City Hall has been on the mend these past few years, too. In 2005, he even began receiving invites to the mayor’s annual holiday party at the Parkman House. By all accounts, the Ames project has proceeded smoothly, with ample cooperation from its neighbor: Menino’s Boston Redevelopment Authority, located right around the corner.
"It’s been a long time coming," Greenberg says of his foray into the more grownup hotel industry. "I’ve had trials and tribulations and a lot of setbacks. Sometimes things are going to go wrong at your establishments. Mistakes are going to happen. But at the end of the day, if you want to be a player, you have to be willing to step up to the plate…and I’m just getting started."