North End Restauranteurs DePasquale & Varano to Open “Fratelli” at Encore Casino

Longtime North End restauranteurs, Frank DePasquale and Nick Varano, are teaming up in a new joint venture to open an Italian restaurant, Fratelli, just off the gaming room floor at the new Encore casino.

DePasquale and Varano have made a name for themselves over the years with over 15 restaurants combined. They had previous paired up for the former Ocean Club at Marina Bay. Now, the two embark on a new adventure to expand their culinary experiences in Everett.

Frank DePasquale and Nick Verano on site at Encore Boston Harbor. Photo by Cindy M. Loo.

Fratelli, which means “brothers” in Italian, will serve Italian dishes including pastas, brick oven pizzas, meats, seafood, and risotto.

“We couldn’t be more honored and excited to be part of this incredible Encore Boston Harbor project,” said DePasquale and Varano, “With over 30 years of friendship, we are looking forward to this next venture. Fratelli will embody the true essence and culinary experience that both of us have been known to bring to the Boston restaurant scene for so many years.”

Nick Verano and Frank DePasquale tour the space at Encore Boston Harbor. Photo by Cindy M. Loo

In speaking about the new restaurant, Encore Boston Harbor President Robert DeSalvio referred to DePasquale and Varano as a “culinary dream team” and expressed his enthusiasm about bringing the “authentic and colorful flavor of the North End to the resort.”

DePasquale Ventures currently operates: Ristorante Bricco, Mare Oyster Bar, AquaPazza, Quattro, Assaggio, Trattoria Il Panino, Bricco Salumeria & Pasta Shop and Bricco Panetteria. DePasquale also owns Bricco Suites and SCENE Magazine.

For its part, the Varano Group has restaurants: Strega North End, Strega Waterfront, Strega Prime, STRIP by Strega, NICO and three Caffé Strega locations throughout the metro Boston area.

Frattelli will be the first locally-operated restaurant at the casino. It will be one of 13 dining options at Encore Boston Harbor, scheduled to open next June.

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Everett Casino Renamed Encore Boston Harbor

Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox has announced “Encore Boston Harbor” as the new name for the Everett gaming resort.

The name change is one of several actions taken by Wynn Resorts after allegations of sexual misconduct were filed against Founder Steve Wynn, who has been completely removed from company operations.

These actions include an internal investigation of the company’s awareness and response to the allegations, three new female members added to the board, new and progressive benefits such as paid parental leave, a review of gender equality in pay, and changes in sexual harassment training.

Encore Boston Harbor, a $2.5 billion resort situated along the Mystic River, is expected to open in summer of 2019.

Poll: What Do You Think About Boston’s Lawsuit to Block Wynn’s Casino License in Everett?

Steve Wynn’s design for the Everett casino is expected to mirror the curving bronze towers of Wynn Las Vegas (Images: Wynn Resorts).

The City of Boston filed a lawsuit this week against the State’s Gaming Commission to block the Wynn Resorts casino license and its $1.75 billion development in Everett. The action comes after negotiations broke down between the City and Wynn regarding mitigation payments to offset the impact of the planned resort casino. Read the full court complaint here.

In its complaint, Mayor Walsh’s administration alleges the traffic impact in Boston, and specifically Charlestown’s Rutherford Avenue / Sullivan Square, will make an already congested area even worse. The suit further claims that Boston has the right to hold a binding vote on the project.

Boston joins Revere and Somerville in filing suit against the license. All three of the municipalities claim the license was illegally awarded. Not coincidentally, the cities previously struck much more lucrative deals with the losing Mohegan casino bid at Suffolk Downs.

Tell us what you think about the Wynn casino by voting in the poll below.



State Senator Petruccelli in Globe: Suffolk Downs Vote Belongs in East Boston

State Senator Anthony Petruccelli in his State House office (NEWF photo)

State Senator Anthony Petruccelli opines in the Boston Globe, “Suffolk Downs vote belongs in East Boston.

A better question for pollsters to ask would be, “If the casino development would have a disproportionate impact on your neighborhood, would you want the entire city to determine its fate?”

I have a strong suspicion that most Bostonians would like to have a vote on the competing Everett casino project, the next pope, and even the next manager of the Red Sox (notwithstanding the great job John Farrell is doing). But overriding East Boston’s right to weigh the impacts and benefits of a local development would set a dangerous precedent for every neighborhood in the city of Boston.

See for the full opinion piece.

Anthony Petruccelli is a State Senator represents the First Suffolk and Middlesex District which includes the North End / Waterfront, other parts of Boston, Cambridge, Revere and Winthrop.

Suffolk Downs Casino Presents Business Partnership Opportunities to North End Chamber of Commerce [Video]


Suffolk Downs Chief Operating Officer, Chip Tuttle, spoke to the North End Chamber of Commerce this week giving an overview of the proposed casino resort project in East Boston. The presentation highlighted community and transportation benefits as well as business partnership opportunities through its Total Rewards program. Watch the full presentation in this video.

Police Commissioner, Suffolk Downs and TD Garden to Appear at North End Chamber of Commerce Meeting on September 3, 2013


Boston’s Police Commissioner Ed Davis, Suffolk Downs Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle and TD Garden President Amy Latimer will be speaking before the North End Chamber of Commerce at its September 3rd meeting in St. Leonard’s Hall, 35 Prince Street at 3:30 p.m.

Among other issues, Commissioner Davis will be addressing Public Safety in the North End followed by a Question and Answer period. Chip Tuttle from Suffolk Downs Casino will give an overview of the proposed project, community benefits and business partnership opportunities. A presentation is also being made by Amy Latimer, President of the TD Garden, according to NECC President Donna Freni.

All North End/Waterfront business owners are welcome to attend.

“The NECC is pleased to be hosting these speakers and we look forward to another informative and successful monthly meeting,” Freni stated.

The NECC meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 3:30 p.m. in St. Leonard’s Hall, 35 Prince Street.

Suffolks Downs and City of Boston Sign Deal for Eastie Casino

The City of Boston signed a deal on Tuesday with proponents of a casino resort at Suffolk Downs. A referendum by East Boston residents is expected to follow as the project competes with a Wynn proposal for Everett.
Above is a slideshow of relevant articles and below is the City’s news release describing the mitigation and details of the agreement.

Mayor Menino Signs Host Community Agreement for $1 Billion Resort Style Gaming Development at Suffolk Downs

Historic Agreement Will Bring Projected $52M in Annual Revenue to City, $50M in Annual Local Spending, and Guarantee 4,000 Permanent Jobs

East Boston to Receive Upfront Payment of $33.4M to Fund Community Improvement Projects and Community Impact Revenue of up to $20M Annually

The City of Boston’s Host Community Advisory Committee today recommended an agreement for the development of a $1 billion resort-style destination gaming establishment at Suffolk Downs. Under the agreement, the City of Boston is projected to receive $52 million in annual revenue, with an Upfront Community Payment of $33.4 million going directly to the community of East Boston for community benefits.

“I have said from the start of this process that I wanted three things: A first-class, resort destination casino, an agreement that would benefit the people of East Boston, and a proposal that will be selected by the State Gaming Commission. We are well on our way to that and more,” Mayor Menino said at a press conference held following his signing of the agreement. “The agreement I have just signed has more revenue, more guaranteed jobs, and more protections than any other agreement in the region, and the Commonwealth.”

The project will attain a LEED Gold standard, create an additional 16 acres of open space and reduce the 12 acres of pavement that currently exist. This development will connect neighborhoods and visitors to the area through a network of pedestrian walkways, bikeways, parks and open spaces, accessible 24 hours a day.

To ensure the project is completed in a reasonable amount of time that gives maximum benefit to East Boston and the entire Boston community, with the least amount of inconvenience for residents, the agreement commits to an early opening 14 months from start of construction, with a full opening after an additional 12 months.


4,000 Permanent jobs at project completion and for remainder of the license term
2,500 Construction jobs during project build
2,225 Early opening jobs
800 Permanent jobs one year PRIOR to early opening

The agreement also commits to continued operation of the race track at Suffolk Downs, a commitment to the Boston Residents Jobs Policy, and 50% hiring for Boston residents.

Financial Terms

The City is projected to receive $52 million annually, after stabilization based on projected Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR). Regardless of revenue, the City will never receive less than $32 million annually.

EXAMPLE of upside component dependent upon Gross Gaming Revenue:

When the establishment reaches its projected GGR of $1 billion, payment to the City would be $52 million. If the establishment reaches $1.2 billion of GGR, payment to the City would be $80 million, etc.

The City will never receive less than $32Million/year

$33.4 million Upfront Community Fee will be used to fund several projects in the East Boston community, including: improvements to the Umana School; the formation of an East Boston Neighborhood Business Program; construction of a state-of-the-art youth and senior citizen community center; and improvements to Noyes Park and LoPresti Park.

To continue this work and provide for more resources for the mitigation of impacts to the community, the City of Boston will establish a Community Trust guaranteed to receive $20 million annually to mitigate impacts to the host community.

The developer has committed to spend $50 million annually on goods and services in the City of Boston, and shall spend $5 million annually in goods and services specifically in East Boston.

A $45 million minimum spend on infrastructure improvements will include:

· Flyover on Route 1A
· $9.32 million on City of Boston/East Boston intersections and roadways
· MBTA Suffolk Downs station improvements
· Additional bike lanes and Hubway stations
· Subsidized water ferry transit connecting East Boston to other Boston locations, and operation of a shuttle bus service from Maverick in connection with subsidized water ferry transit

Compulsive Gaming

Suffolk Downs will be responsible for full mitigation of compulsive gaming, including through an education program, employee training, public awareness and a commitment to the Boston Public Health Commission and the Board of Health.

Project Description

Under the Host Community Agreement, the developer will invest $1 billion to construct a resort-style destination gaming establishment consisting of:

· Two distinct gaming areas providing between 150,000 and 250,000 square feet of gaming space with between 4,000 to 6,600 gaming positions (consisting of an evolving combination of slot machines and table games);
· A World Series of Poker™ room or rooms;
· Two luxury hotels providing a total of 450 rooms;
· Between 24,000 and 46,000 square feet of meeting and entertainment space;
· restaurants, including fine dining concepts, casual dining and a local marketplace, collectively containing between 1,700 and 2,600 seats;
· Up to 30,000 square feet of retail space, including a spa, thoroughbred horse racing and simulcast wagering; and
· A seven-story parking garage with up to 2,600 spaces, valet parking for up to 460 additional vehicles, and up to approximately 2,100 surface parking spaces.

Security of Payments

The agreement also includes several penalties for non-compliance to ensure security of payments:

· Penalty on construction schedule:$55,000/day,
· Penalty on payments schedule:$88,000/day
· Penalty on all other non-monetary requirements: up to $25,000/day

The City of Boston will require Letters of Credit in the amount of $20 Million for the entire term. Payments will be paid to the City on a monthly basis.

Next Steps, as Outlined by State Law

· Proponent sends request to City of Boston for vote to be set
· A vote on the signed agreement takes place in the community 60-90 days after agreement has been signed
· Proponent sends completed application to Gaming Commission by December 31, 2013


Inauguration Interview with State Representative Aaron Michlewitz – Part I

Rep. Aaron Michlewitz at his State House office.

Aaron Michlewitz is the Massachusetts State Representative for the Third Suffolk District, the Boston area that includes the North End / Waterfront, South End, Chinatown, Bay Village and parts of Beacon Hill/Downtown. In 2009, he won a competitive Democratic primary and special election to fill the seat left vacant by former House Speaker, Sal DiMasi. After serving for the past 18 months and running unopposed in the November 2010 general election, Michlewitz was inaugurated on January 5, 2011 for his first full term as State Representative. He is also a lifelong resident of the North End.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to interview Representative Michlewitz at the State House. This is the first in a series of posts encompassing our conversation. In this part, we talk about the Green Ticket Bill, street cleaning, the impact of a Suffolk Downs casino and the Representative’s introduction of new legislation impacting the Greenway parks. Congratulations on your inauguration this week for your first full term as State Representative for the Third Suffolk District. Having established a record in the House over the past 18 months, let’s start with some legislative questions and then get into some neighborhood issues.

Your maiden speech in the House of Representatives was in support of the Green Ticket Bill which became law and went into effect in the Spring of 2010. The Green Ticket Bill was aimed at improving trash collection and snow removal in neighborhoods such as the North End. Tell us, how is it working?

Representative Aaron Michlewitz: The Green Ticket Bill is going to take time because it was going after the culture of absentee landlords and trying to make them recognize the situations in their buildings. It became clear that change was only going to take place through their pocketbooks. Because there was no way to collect on the fines before the Green Ticket Bill, they could rent to anyone without any repercussions for the way those tenants were treating the neighborhood streets.

With more green tickets being issued, my office and that of Councilor LaMattina have received some calls about unfair tickets. Just like with parking, we understand that not every ticket is fair. By at least having Inspectional Services Division (ISD) give out the new tickets, you are catching the culprits of this trash issue. But it will take time before we see a real effect on the streets. Over time, these landlords that don’t live in the neighborhood will see a real hit to their pocketbook and that is the primary aim of the bill.

On snow removal, I saw more people go after the snow on their sidewalks more quickly then they have in the past. It wasn’t perfect in the neighborhood, but I saw many properties that previously did not shovel make an effort to clear their sidewalks.  That is also a direct consequence of the Green Ticket Bill.

Did your office receive complaints about snow removal?

We received a couple of calls, but not as many as in the past. I give the agencies credit for getting the word out that property owners needed to clear their sidewalks. I did not receive many complaints about the city removing snow from the streets either.

What else can be done to improve the cleanliness of the neighborhood?

It is a challenge. Councilor LaMattina has really taken on this issue. There needs to be a cultural change, both by businesses and residential owners. For a long time, people were allowing their neighbors to get away with too much. Through the Clean Streets Committee and diligence by residents, we are slowly changing that. New initiatives will have to come from the city and I continue to work with the Councilor on the issue.

What is your position on the recently expanded mechanical street sweeping into the winter months of December and March?

I was not against the proposal because it was only a pilot program. But, I think we should keep it open to change for the best possible outcome. For example, my street is posted for sweeping from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Most people find it is not a big deal to move their cars before noon. However, other streets are posted to be cleaned from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. which is more difficult for some, especially on cold winter mornings. One suggestion I made is to have street cleaning from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. for everyone to make it easier. It does not take much time for these trucks to go down the street. There also are more spots available throughout the neighborhood in the afternoon.

Any early feedback or results?

Not yet. I know they had to cancel some days in December because of the snow. So, the program not been to the full capacity that was planned.

Let’s move back to the legislative agenda. You supported the bill for expanded gambling and casinos that ultimately failed last year. What are the prospects for a revised Casino Bill and where do you draw the line in your support?

The racetrack element of the bill that was passed by the House and Senate did not get the Governor’s support. I don’t know if that is something he is willing to work on or what type of final bill could get through.

As far as expanded gaming as a whole, it is hard to comment on where exactly I would draw the line. I think you have to take each proposal as it comes and judge it on its merits. For example, in the previous bill that I supported, one element that I liked was funding for gambling addiction. I think that is crucial going forward as well.

How do you think a casino at Suffolk Downs will impact your district?

I initially had concerns before I ran for office, but my concerns have subsided. I just don’t feel that a casino at Suffolk Downs would impact the neighborhood where it would even be tangible. There are two sides of the issue. On one side, you have some businesses saying someone might not go to the North End to eat because the casino is on the other side of the tunnel. On the other hand, you have some residents saying that a Suffolk Downs casino will drive more people to Hanover Street and make it even more chaotic.

The North End is 3.5 miles from Suffolk Downs which is about the same distance as Fenway Park. I don’t think what happens at Fenway Park impacts the North End very much. We have a lot going on in the City of Boston without a casino. People are going to come to the North End because of what it is and what it stands for. That is a great thing and why we are proud of the neighborhood.

Regarding the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway parks, you were instrumental in writing the initial legislation where the State leased the parks to Greenway Conservancy. The State currently funds at least half of the Conservancy’s annual budget which is set at $5.2 million for Fiscal Year 2011. There have been questions raised, including by, as to how that money is being spent and how the Conservancy is interacting with the community. Last year, MassDOT, the regulator, established more specific rules regarding the use of State money by the Conservancy. What can the legislature do to ensure that the Greenway benefits the neighborhoods, such as the North End / Waterfront, that suffered through decades of Big Dig construction?

Having written part of the initial Greenway bill and through my previous and current positions, I have a unique perspective on how it is affecting the surrounding neighborhoods. Besides the Mayor, I am the only elected official in the city that has the entire Greenway in his district from the North End to Chinatown. I feel like I know where the bill works and where it is not working.

I think you bring up a good point with respect to the neighborhoods and how the Conservancy is supposed to interact with the community. To be honest, they can do better.

For this upcoming session, I am filing new legislation to give the Greenway Leadership Council (GLC) veto power on the Conservancy’s budget similar to the way the City Council handles the budget presented by the Mayor. (The GLC is an unpaid group of appointed citizens from the residential and commercial community tasked with advising on the activities of the Greenway Conservancy.) They won’t be able to amend or change the budget but I think it will give the Leadership Council more teeth and power to protect the neighborhoods.

In these tough fiscal times, an improved system of checks and balances for any money given from the State would be an enhancement to help the Conservancy’s ability to integrate within the neighborhoods.

How will the legislature tackle the budget gap this year?

I am not exactly sure how we will move forward, but cuts will have to be part of it as in the past two years. One challenge this year is that the federal stimulus money is no longer there to provide a cushion. I think we are going to have to make some hard decisions which will start in April in the House. The Governor will make his suggestions by the end of the month. We have to get it done by the end of June as we enter Fiscal Year 2012.

As the Governor said during the election season, the budget has to be balanced and on-time. I think that needs to be stressed. Not every state has been able to do that despite cutting and stimulus funds. We have been able to do that and I expect us to do that again this year because the House and Senate leadership have made it a priority.

I continue to work with Charlie Murphy, Chairman of Ways and Means, making sure that whatever budget cuts are necessary will cause the least amount of pressure on my district as possible.

Speaking of cuts, the Governor has announced this week that your annual base salary and those of your House colleagues will be cut by $300 to $61,440, matching the estimated drop in pay by Massachusetts households. Any comment?

This law was voted in by a ballot initiative in the mid-1990s by the people of the Commonwealth. We haven’t had to take a cut since 1998. So, I don’t have a problem with it. I think it is actually better than having us vote on it ourselves. Two years ago, it gave us a raise and now it is giving a cut. Last year, we had to take furloughs to fix the budget gap in the House. This is no different.

What else are you working on the legislative side?

I am working on a lot of local and quality of life issues that were part of what I ran on. We have a bill filing deadline of January 21st. There will be “re-files” from previous years, but some new bills as well. The new Greenway bill will be biggest one that I will file.

Coming up in future parts of this interview series with Rep. Michlewitz will be the probation department investigation, hazardous material trucking routes in the North End, education (including the Eliot and N. Bennet Street Schools), late night noise/party problems, alcohol license closing hours and his view on potential new development in the neighborhood. We also ask about the working relationship between the “young gun” trio of elected officials representing the North End / Waterfront including State Senator Anthony Petruccelli and District 1 City Councilor Sal LaMattina. (Hint: Rep. Michlewitz makes sure we know he is the youngest.)

Continue by reading Part II of this interview.

Rep. Michlewitz Votes With House Majority Favoring Casino Bill

State Rep. Aaron MichlewitzAs

“I am not an automatic no” was his answer during his 2009 campaign. That view was clarified yesterday when State Representative Aaron Michlewitz went on the record in support of expanded gambling in Massachusetts. Rep. Michlewitz, a Democrat representing the 3rd Suffolk District and North End resident, voted with the majority resulting in a 120-37 vote by the House of Representatives in support of a bill for two casinos and slot machines at racetracks.

Rep. Michlewitz said he did “months of research” and acknowledged “that both sides of the issue have valid points.” In a statement and follow-up interview, the Representative said “the economic issues, unemployment situation and need for job creation” overrode his concerns of expanded gambling in the Commonwealth. Strongly influencing his vote was “the reduction in funding for vital programs and cut-after-cut in the budget that even put our cities libraries on the potential chopping block.”

Coming to Massachusetts?

Proponents say the bill will create 15,000 jobs, generate $260 million in licensing fees and over $300 million in annual tax revenue. Michlewitz said it was “imperative” for the State to pursue job creation and revenue for the budget.

Rep. Michlewitz was noncommittal on the casino issue in his campaign and during most of his first year in office. He was former Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi’s Constituent Services Director for four years. DiMasi, also a North End resident, led the opposition to casinos that resulted in a 2008 House vote of 108-46 against expanded gambling. Michlewitz said he has communicated with the former Speaker regarding his vote. Recent appearances, including some with current Speaker DeLeo, have hinted Rep. Michlewitz would vote in favor of the bill.

Suffolk Downs in East Boston would be contender for slots or a resort casino.

Regarding the impact on the North End, Michlewitz said he would look to “protect the interests of businesses and residents” in the community. The closest gambling facility would likely be Suffolk Downs in East Boston. He is confident that expanded gambling there would not have a negative impact on the neighborhood. “The North End will always be the “North End.” A casino on the other side of the tunnel is not going to change that.”

Rep. Michlewitz proposed an amendment to the bill requiring a referendum in the district of State Senator Anthony Petruccelli. The amendment was defeated. Senator Petruccelli, who represents the North End along with East Boston, is generally in favor of expanded gambling at Suffolk Downs and has also called for a referendum. East Boston State Representative Carlos Basile voted in favor of the House bill.

The issue now goes before the Senate where a different bill will likely emerge without the slot machines for racetracks. The House bill includes two casinos and up to 750 slot machines at the racetracks. Senate President Therese Murray and Governor Deval Patrick have opposed slots at the racetracks. The two bills will then go to conference committee where House members may vote again. The House vote yesterday of 120-37 would override a veto.