History of Fort Hill, Part 2 (2008). Mural by: Loray McDuffie, Taylor Saintable, Edwin Perez-Clancy, Christine O'Connell, Julia Andreasson, Jorge Benitez, Divah Payne, Lucy Saintcyr, Laua Dedonato, Gregg Bernstein.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blowing Darryl Settles's Horn

The photograph at the left is owned by the Berklee College of Music. It depicts the Beantown Jazz Festival on Columbus Avenue, Roxbury. It is reproduced here to give one measure of Darryl Settles's undoubted success at attracting crowds to his business ventures.

By all accounts Darryl Settles is a notable entrepreneur, restaurateur, and businessman.

He took over—and made over—Bob the Chef's in a time when folk weren't that eager to think of its Northampton Street location as the fashionable South End. He had a good 17-year run with that business, before moving on to the Beehive Restaurant, which actually is located in the South End.

Ten years ago Mr. Settles produced the first Beantown Jazz Festival. Starting from an amazing 10,000 attendees in its first year, the size swelled to 80,000 attendees in 2009. He continued producing it until Berklee College of Music assumed responsibility for it seven years later. The Beehive restaurant remained a prominent sponsor in 2009.

By his own account, Mr. Settles's contributions to the Boston community are broad and extend from hunger and homelessness to minority health issues and Gay Pride. While he used to live in Roxbury and has now moved to Newton, Mr. Settles maintains his civic connection to Boston.

He claims membership on the boards of the Huntington Theatre, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Berklee College of Music Advisory Board.

Mr. Settles was appointed to the board of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority on 22 Feb 2008 by Governor Deval Patrick.

His restaurant business ventures are prominent enough in the Boston community that when news filtered out that someone was interested in opening a jazz bar & restaurant on Fort Hill, there was speculation about it in the foodie press (Grubb Street article 1 and 2).

Here is Mr. Settles's own take on his accomplishments at his D'Ventures Limited web site. Here is his more expansive take [20kb pdf] at the vestigial web site of Bob's Southern Bistro.

Mr. Settles has had his share of public business problems (e.g., this Globe article about a business dispute with his Beehive partners), but these are to be expected.

The entertainment publication Stuff@Night named Mr. Settles, in 2001, "One of Boston's Most Powerful Players." In 2005, 2006, and 2007 they named him as one of the "100 Players of Boston's Nightlife."

At this point the reader may be thinking, "We are all sure that Darryl Settles is a fine and successful businessman, but, What is the payoff for this post?"

The payoff for this post is not another encomium to the social and capitalist prowess of Darryl Settles. He does not need a Jonas Prang for that.

The payoff for this post is a warning.

Mr. Settles is wired fully into the Boston business community, into the Boston charitable community, into Boston and Commonwealth politics. He is a board member of the Convention Center. He served as an associate commissioner of the Metropolitan District Commission. He serves on the board of the MFA and various other cultural institutions.

Mr. Settles clearly has pull, and, no doubt he has some push, too.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether Mr. Settles has the "pull" to to push an inappropriate venture onto an unwilling neighborhood.

The next few posts will show conclusively that a jazz-bar and restaurant does not belong in the residential environs of 85 Centre Street.

1 comment:

  1. When Mr. Settles opened in Dudly station, I was so happy until I went in and looked at the food he was offering.The food was old, it was probably the food it did not sell in the South End. The rice was sour, gravy had crest around the edges it was just rotten. He stated he closed because the people of Roxbury did not know good food, he closed because we do know good food, his food was rotten and old.