Patriot Place continued its recent boom in business by adding a high-end Japanese hibachi steakhouse to its restaurant mix.
Saga Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar is coming to Foxborough, expected to open this summer after the town’s Board of Selectmen unanimously approved all licenses and applications at Tuesday’s meeting.
"We're incredibly excited to add Saga and the exciting atmosphere that a high-end, hibachi-style restaurant brings," said Patriot Place General Manager Brian Earley. "We were happy to see that the [Board of Selectmen] shares our enthusiasm and sees this as a positive addition to Patriot Place and to Foxborough."
Town officials echoed Earley’s excitement for Foxborough’s newest business along Route 1.
“I’m excited to see it come,” said Foxborough’s Board of Selectmen chair James DeVellis. “I think it’s great.”
Said Town Manager Kevin Paicos: “This kind of [business] is a very welcomed venue. It is clearly a restaurant and not a bar. The expectation from [Foxborough Police Chief Edward O’Leary], myself and others is that this is going to be a good addition to Patriot Place. It is going to be bringing lots of good folks coming there for a good meal and to see entertaining chefs with their knives and it is going to be a real asset to the community.”
Paicos also expects it to be a tremendous source of revenue.
“This is a source of meals tax revenue and jobs,” Paicos. “This is a fine addition. I think we are all going to be very happy with this and I am also very excited.”
Saga representative Christopher Coleman told the board Tuesday the restaurant expects to open in July or August.
“We expect to open sometime in July,” Coleman said. “There’s a lot going on then in terms of activity at Patriot Place with training camp [and concerts] and we wouldn’t want to miss out on that.”
The restaurant will be located at 295 Patriot Pl., next to Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, across from Red Robin and near the Renaissance Hotel. The 7,857 sq ft. vacant space will feature a dining room, lounge bar, sushi bar, kitchen and restrooms. There will also be a 662 sq ft. outdoor patio area that seats 32.
Inside, the hibachi dining room will seat 95, the dining area 77 and the lounge bar 18. The premises holds a max capacity of 275 persons. Renovations and construction of the restaurant space is expected to cost just over $1 million, according to the restaurant’s application.
Saga’s owner, Xing (Steven) Lin, owns similar restaurants in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Patriot Place location will be the first in Massachusetts.
“[Lin] has excellent experience [owning an operating these restaurants],” Coleman said. He has several restaurants in the Pennsylvania area. He will be spending 40 hours-plus at the Foxborough restaurant.”
Lin currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pa. but according to Coleman has leased an apartment in Boston and will be relocating to operate the Patriot Place restaurant.
Lin has owned and operated Saga Steakhouse in Robinson, Pa. since April 2010 and has managed the general operation of the restaurant, including food and alcohol beverage operations.
He has also owned the Saga Steakhouse in Monroeville, Pa. since 1997. From 2002 to March 2008 he also operated the Saga Steakhouse in Youngstown, Ohio. As a manager, Lin managed the dining room and was responsible for the employee training.
In Foxborough, all Saga employees will be alcohol and TIPS trained and will work in a team environment, according to Coleman. There will also be training for game day activity at Patriot Place.
The restaurant is expected to hire between 12 and 20 employees.
The intent of the restaurant, according to its application, is to “establish a high class Chinese and Japanese restaurant that provides full service for dining in Hibachi grill style.”
For those unfamiliar with hibachi-style cooking, it “creates a happy-going atmosphere,” according to the restaurant’s application. “It’s cooking preserves the savory flavor and nutrients in the foods offered. The concept strives to seek the freshest ingredients available domestically and abroad.”
Saga’s goal, according to its application, is to “provide good quality of foods and services at a competitive price to benefit the Foxborough community.”
In order for the restaurant to open, selectmen needed to approve a change in liquor license as well as a transfer of the license. The Kraft Group (MPS LLC) requested the board transfer the company’s club all alcohol license from Gillette Stadium to Hong Yi, Inc. DBA Saga Hibachi Steakhouse at 295 Patriot Place. The license was also changed from a club license to an all alcohol restaurant license.
“This specific license that we are transferring is behind Gillette Stadium,” said Jim Nolan, “It’s not in the stadium. The license covers a parking lot and one of our practice fields.”
Nolan told selectmen the license being transferred was used for hospitality with respect to the New England Revolution.
“Our intent is to move this hospitality in areas designated by other licenses such as the Dana Farber Field House,” Nolan said.
Gillette Stadium still has two similar licenses that will be used for hospitality.
Selectmen unanimously transferred the liquor license. Additionally, selectmen approved the restaurant’s applications for a Common Victuallers license and a seven-day entertainment license.
Despite the entertainment license, Coleman told the board that Saga will not host any live entertainment.
“Entertainment will be limited,” Coleman said. “No live entertainment or Karaoke.”
Paicos added that the live entertainment license covers the TVs that will be at the lounge bar.
The restaurant’s proposed hours of operation are Monday thru Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday, noon to 1 a.m.
Selectmen clerk Lorraine Brue expressed concern that another restaurant staying open until 1 a.m. at Patriot Place would be a drain on public safety resources, something she wanted to discuss with O’Leary before moving forward with the licenses and applications.
“My concern is in terms of public safety in that area,” Brue said. “It’s something we need to discuss. … What is the impact of our public safety resources from these liquor licenses? I’m concerned that restaurants are typically opened until 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. does make a slight difference. People will still be eating but it will have a different clientele.”
Earley explained that all Patriot Place restaurants are licensed to remain open until 1 a.m. but some restaurants at Patriot Place, like Tavolino, choose to closer earlier. It will be up to Lin and Saga’s management what hours of operation work best for the restaurant.
Paicos further explained that very few restaurants operate until its licensed 1 a.m. closing.
Brue at one point suggested selectmen limit Saga’s closing time to 11 p.m. but DeVellis disagreed.
“I’d be concerned to put a new business coming at a disadvantage by limiting their hours of operation,” DeVellis said.
The board ultimately chose to license Saga with the restaurant’s original request for 1 a.m. closing.
Saga will be Patriot Place’s fourth new business since December 2012. The shopping, dining and entertainment complex recently opened Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop at the North Marketplace and announced that ULTA Beauty and Cupcake Charlie’s will be arriving in Foxborough later this summer.