Akinto and Boston Nightlife Ventures to Take Over Merrill & Co.
After just about two, rocky years of existence, Merrill & Co. is shutting down for good. Boston Restaurant Talk reports Akinto, a Southeast Asian concept from chef Patrick Enage, will open in its place this summer.
Akinto has been the resident cuisine next door since the spring, at Wink & Nod, a a culinary incubator by Boston Nightlife Ventures (Tap Trailhouse, Griddler’s Burgers, the forthcoming Southern Kin Cookhouse). BNV’s chief culinary officer Bill Brodsky and Enage plan to develop a “robust” Akinto menu to compliment the cocktail bar’s tiki program, which will transition from a Monday night special to a daily offering.
BNV acquired the building that houses Merrill & Co. in September, and it has taken over the restaurant’s operation from the BiNA Hospitality Group and Babak Bina (JM Curley and Bogie’s Place, Lala Rokh, Bin 26 Enoteca, Sunny Boy). Bina opened Merrill & Co. in spring 2014, and fully reinvented itself 10 months later. This summer, it shut down briefly before launching two, different, short-lived concepts. Most recently, Bina announced Truck & Mortar at Merrill & Co., which would see food truck operators take over the kitchen on a nebulous rotation. The BiNA Group brought on cocktail consultant Matthew Schrage to revamp Merrill’s bar program, but that relationship ended after just one week.
Akinto’s dishes, like lamb dumpling soup; scallop pad Thai; and Kabayaki-glazed swordfish belly with grilled Taiwan lettuce and salted duck egg sauce; are served up at Wink & Nod until January 2, before former Zebra’s Bistro chef Brendan Pelley debuts his modern Greek Pelekasis there on January 5. Wink & Nod was also the first stop for Whisk, by chefs Jeremy Kean and Philip Kruta; and chef Josh Lewin and Katrina Jazayeri’s Bread & Salt Hospitality. Both of those alumni groups have moved on to create their own concepts: Whisk at Fazenda and the forthcoming Brassica Kitchen + Café, and the soon-to-open Juliet in Union Square.
Akinto, coming this summer to 1 Appleton St., currently operates at Wink & Nod, 3 Appleton St., Boston; 617-482-0117 or Facebook.
UPDATE, December 16, 1:30 p.m.: A previous version of this article said Boston Nightlife Ventures has “always” owned the Merrill & Co. building; a representative clarified that BNV bought it this fall.