Restaurants thrive in Savin Hill Village

Ken Osherow: Key to success of Savin Bar + Kithcen, other eateries on Savin Hill Ave. Photo by Bill ForryKen Osherow: Key to success of Savin Bar + Kitchen, other eateries on Savin Hill Ave. Photo by Bill ForryAt the center of Savin Hill, a burgeoning mini-empire exists. Steps away from the MBTA station is a neighborhood café, an ice cream shop and an upscale eatery that serves lunch and dinner.

All three establishments have something in common: Co-owner and partner Kenneth Osherow, who moved his real estate company to Savin Hill Ave. in 2001, several years after purchasing a three-decker nearby.

“I fell into it,” Osherow, 46, said during a sit-down at McKenna’s, the café adjacent to At Home Real Estate. “I fell into it because I had a real estate office next door.”

The owners of McKenna’s, which opened in 1999, wanted to move to Florida, and the café ended up in Osherow’s hands. He worked to rezone it for more seating, and eventually expanded the small eatery.

The daughter of the people who used to own the place – who is also the namesake – occasionally works as a waitress there , providing a family connection to the neighborhood restaurant.

In 2010, Savin Scoop, with a sign declaring “Local Ice Cream” and “Local Gossip,” opened after a salon cleared out of the same block as McKenna’s and the real estate office.

“Little did I know how much work it was and how much money it would involve,” Osherow recalled, noting the ice cream store opened six months later than they had originally planned, in the chillier climate of November.

The ice cream is made at a local farm in Attleboro, and frequently draws the afternoon crowd consisting of students and teachers from the Cristo Rey School on the other side of Savin Hill Ave.

The newest addition to the empire is across the street: the former C.F. Donovan’s restaurant, which Osherow and a partner bought up in 2010 and opened in 2011 as Savin Bar and Kitchen.

The ceiling has reclaimed wood from a mill in Vermont, and the kitchen has an open-concept layout.

Business is up 40 percent over this time last year, according to Osherow. On Tuesdays, the restaurant hosts a trivia night, and live music follows on Thursdays. Downstairs in the basement, they host functions, wedding parties, fashion shows and artist galleries.

Earlier this year, “Hell’s Kitchen,” a reality television show, held a casting call in that space.

Osherow said his favorite dish at Savin Bar is the salmon with sweat peas. His favorite ice cream at Savin Scoop: Graham Central Station, which features chocolate-covered graham crackers.

Osherow, who has degrees in marketing and business from Northeastern University and Brandeis University, noted that Savin Scoop’s ice cream sandwiches can be bought at Savin Bar. “It all fits, because we do property management there and it helps us maintain all these buildings,” he said.

He and his partners are eying potential expansions of McKenna’s and Savin Scoop. They’re weighing the idea of putting in a walk-in fridge in order to free up space on the first floor kitchen. But other than that, he does not imagine tinkering too much with the McKenna’s concept, that of a local nook where locals can get their coffee and eggs.

As Brandeis Magazine put it last year: “Today, McKenna’s Café packs them in for power wraps, granola-crusted French toast and, on Wednesdays, a to-die-for beef stew. On weekend mornings, breakfast patrons come prepared to stand in line.”

“I’m a believer in this business; when you have something that just works and works well and is so successful, you need not mess with it,” Osherow told the Reporter.

He remains happy with the results, saying McKenna’s has become a local institution.

“It’s like a whole village,” Osherow said of the area. “We have the Savin Village here.”

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