Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Boardroom Bistro Restaurant Recently Opened on Middlesex Turnpike

The Boardroom Bistro opened on August 23rd at 54 Middlesex Turnpike. I recently spoke with David Smerling, one of the owners. David and his business partner Jeff, have own the two buildings (that houses office space and The Goddard School at 52 Middlesex Turnpike). The partners thought that adding a restaurant to the building would be a big plus for tenants and decided they would do it themselves. This is the first restaurant they have opened (David mentioned he has lots of experience in eating while Jeff has more of a culinary background). With the location on Middlesex Turnpike near Crosby Drive, they figured that most of their customers would be from nearby businesses and so choose a name they thought would be a good match, along with a company "Boardroom" theme.

The restaurant was designed so nearby workers can come by for a quality meal and still get back to work fairly quickly. Customers order at the counter, they receive a chess piece to place on their table, and the order is delivered to them. The restaurant has 96 seats which includes 3 outdoor tables. In addition, the restaurant features free WiFi, online ordering and take out (including drive up). They currently have 4 employees and hope to add a few more as business ramps up.

The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 7am to 7pm and features Breakfast Sandwiches, Burgers, Deli Sandwiches, Salads, Smoothies, Pastries along with personalized coffee.

Customers can customize their coffee by choosing from a wide selection of whole beans.

The Boardroom Bistro offers corporate catering and they are willing to rent out the restaurant for functions on the weekend when the restaurant is normally closed.

The restaurant features an open setting area with free WiFi.

According to David, lunchtime has been very busy. Most of the customers have been from nearby offices. He has seen a few Bedford residents but realizes his restaurant is "on the other side" of town. He is interested in getting more involved in the community such as sponsoring a local team.

After ordering, customers are given a unique Chess Piece that is picked up when the food is delivered to the table.

The Jersey Joe Triple Decker is a Boardroom Bistro speciality. The restaurant claims to have the best hot corned beef on rye this side of NYC.

Along with the typical pastry items, the restaurant also features Greek, Italian and Jewish Specialities such as Mandel Bread. 

Right behind the restaurant, is the Goddard School. David, envisions that parents will stop by for a cup of coffee or a quick bit when dropping or picking up kids.

The Boardroom Bistro will soon offer drive up service behind the restaurant. Workers will come out and bring the order directly to your car.

The bar area is open from 4pm-7pm for customers who want to enjoy a cocktail with their meal.
The restaurant features an outdoor patio that can seat 14. A permanent sign should be added shortly.

This area of town has been missing a nearby restaurant where you can grab a quick bite. The closest similar places were Famous Pizza on Bedford Street in Burlington and Subway on Middlesex Turnpike in Billerica both about 1 1/2 miles away. As previously mentioned, a new restaurant called Pedro's has just opened across the street in Billerica at the old Naked Fish location. Lola's restaurant was supposed to open earlier this year in Taylor Pond but still appears to be delayed.

Phase 2 of the Middlesex Turnpike Widening Project is just beginning. When completed (currently scheduled for Spring of 2013), the road will be 2 lanes in each direction along with a turning lane and a sidewalk on the south (aka Bedford) side. The widening will all take place on the south side, bringing the restaurant about 30 feet closer to the road, increasing it's visibility (currently the restaurant is hard to spot while driving by). It will be interesting to see if the sidewalk brings any foot traffic since the Heritage at Bedford Springs and Taylor Pond apartment complexes are just a short walk away.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ribbon Cutting Held for Hanscom Federal Credit Union Grand Reopening

The Bedford Hanscom Federal Credit Union had it's official ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday to commemorate the completion of it's renovation and expansion. As previously reported, the branch has expanded in to an adjacent store front and has been completely modernized with a open floor plan that eliminates the traditional teller stations and lines.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Boardroom Bistro Opens on Middlesex Turnpike

The Boardroom Bistro recently opened at 54 Middlesex Turnpike, next to the Goddard School. The new restaurant is currently open for lunch. Stay tuned for a more in-depth article.

Just down the street, Pedro's is set to open by the end of September. This new restaurant is replacing the Naked Fish which closed earlier this summer. The menu is expected to feature Latin Cuisine and is an offshoot of La Casa de Pedro in Watertown.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bedford Hanscom Federal Credit Union Expansion Almost Complete

The Hanscom Federal Credit Union (HFCU) branch located at 325 Great Road in the Great Road Shopping Center is scheduled to complete it's expansion on September 10th. The main Bedford branch, which opened in 2002 is one of 14 branches at HFCU that service close to 45,000 members. The branch which was originally 2500 square feet, is expanding in to the previous location of Bedford Jewelers (which itself moved 3 doors down, taking over the space of the Bedford Laundromat whose lease was not renewed). As part of the expansion (the space will now total 3700 square feet), the entire branch was redone.

I recently spoke with Scott Post, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Delivery. Scott mentioned that as the bank had added members and extended hours, it has outgrown the space. Rather than just add a few more teller stations, they wanted to focus on maximum use of space while using technology to automate mundane tasks. In addition they wanted to simplify the experience for the customer. So the new design, gets rid of the traditional teller stations and lines. In it's place, is an open floor plan. When a member/customer walks in to the bank, a greeter welcomes them, finds out what services they are looking for and then a service representative will take them to a service pod to conduct any transactions. The service pods were designed with circular work desks so representatives can work side by side with members.

According to Scott, the advantage of this approach is the customer doesn't need to figure out where to go and they will get serviced by a single representative. While the number of employees will stay the same, the workers have been cross trained so they can take care of just about any member banking needs. Along with the updated service pods, the cash draws have been replaced with cash recycling machines that automatically count and dispense money.

This updated retail banking concept, which is according to Scott the first in Massachusetts; is commonly referred to as Dialogue Banking (as it enables the bank employees to better focus on dialogue directly with customers rather than spend time on more mundane banking tasks). The updated technology also keeps track of the number of members who enter the bank over time, enabling the branch to fine tune staffing requirements during the day.

Scott also mentioned that along with the branch changes, HCFU will also focus on tailoring services to each member. For example, all members get a free credit report. As part of this report, the representative may notice a car loan that has a relatively high rate and can calculate how much money they could save with refinancing the loan. Then if the member agrees, they can put proceed with the paperwork right at the service pod with the same representative.

 A new sign accompanies the expansion. The updates include more modern graphics and colors and is fully ADA compliant.

The "official" grand re-opening is set for September 21st and the branch is planning some special promotions for the weeks that follow.

The redesign adds 2 touch screen internet kiosks which can be used for online account access. The new Kiosks feature a motion sensor that will automatically log you off when you step away from it.

1. Several of the banks in Bedford have recently undergone lobby renovations. While they have all updated to a more modern look and design, HCFU appears to be the first to go to a Dialogue Banking concept. This concept was popularized several years ago on the West Coast by Washington Mutual (WaMu). What's interesting is that so far, it's been mainly the smaller Credit Unions that have been pushing this trend eastward. This is opposite many other retail businesses where the larger stores like Starbucks are popularizing new retailing concepts. As far as Dialogue Banking, the key to success will be reduced waiting and better service. If this can be accomplished than I think this concept will spread to many of the other branches in Bedford.

2. HCFU's approach in targeting specific services to individual customers is more efficient from a business perspective than just shotgun blasting out marketing collateral for refinancing. How many people have Comcast or FiOS and still get multiple flyers from them every week?