Tom Boucher envisions his customers entering the arched copper doors of his new eatery for approachable fine dining cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. Boucher broke ground on his new 8,000-square-foot restaurant, The Copper Door, in Bedford last month, and building will begin early this summer. He hopes to open before Christmas.
Boucher opened T-Bones in 1984 and Cactus Jack’s in 1995. There are now seven locations of the two local chains.
“When we started T-Bones … opening Cactus Jack’s was certainly very different,” Boucher said. “Being a Southwestern restaurant, it was not quite as classic … it has a little more bar scene and obviously the foods were more Southwestern and a little more edgy.”
The foundational principles of CJ’s and T-Bones and core cultural aspects will be carried over to the Copper Door, but the new restaurant’s concept will be much different, Boucher said.
“We decided to go into that level of dining that is really wedged between casual and fine … it is no secret that since C.R. Sparks closed, there is definitely a void that has been left in the Bedford market for that level of dining,” he said. “The opportunity is there in front of us.”
Boucher said his company has two other concepts up its sleeve. “There are lots of opportunities in different parts of the state,” he said. “The key is that you have to find the right location.”
The new eatery’s spot at the intersection of Route 101 and Olde Bedford Road is an “A-plus location,” Boucher said, but in addition to location, timing is also key in a restaurant’s success.
Boucher said he has seen an upswing in business at all seven of his eateries.
“It is clear that the economy is starting to turn back around … we all felt like the timing was great [to open a new restaurant],” he said.
Chef Nicole Barreira, who oversees all CJ’s and T-Bones locations, will have a hand in the development of the new 200+-seat restaurant, but Boucher plans to hire a chef whose only focus will be the Copper Door.
“I think that’s what people expect, to have the chef on site all the time,” Boucher said, adding that everything on the chef-inspired menu will be made from scratch. “We will try to create a menu that is very approachable for people,” he continued, adding that it is too early to be thinking about what dishes the restaurant will offer.
Boucher plans to hire a staff of more than 100, including a new general manager, to open the eatery.
“When you first open, everyone wants to come try it — again, with our experience, that is just how it goes,” he said. “Restaurants have a honeymoon period for their first three months.”
“Within that time frame, we will also start to understand who are the solid, quality employees that will stay,” he added.
While he said the Copper Door will “not be casual by any means,” Boucher said customers will not feel the stuffiness often found at high-end restaurants in big cities.
“I think there are many people out there kind of intimidated by the fine dining environment … even the wine list can keep people from dining at those locations as much as they’d like,” he said. “This will be someplace you can go on a Tuesday night, get high-quality food and high-end served in an atmosphere that is more relaxed.”
Boucher said even the restaurant’s name, suggested by his wife, gives him a vision of a very classy restaurant, without evoking an air of pretentiousness.
“It just speaks to what we’re trying to do,” he said.