No one believed that restaurateur Samad Naamad’s concept of a Moroccan food oasis on Main Street in Charlestown would ever work 20 years ago. Even his former landlord in the Main Street building refused to rent to him at first based on the fact that he thought no one would ever walk through the doors to eat there.
That was 20 years ago, and the Tangierino Restaurant and Hookah Lounge proved the landlord and everyone else wrong, as it established itself as one of the favorites for Charlestown residents and a destination for others from around the region.
Now, Naamad is turning the tables once again, and said he has decided to retire the Tangierino Restaurant concept, and re-open this week with an emphasis on steaks, cigars and Bistro-style comfort food with a flair.
On Thursday, he plans to open Street Bistro Charlestown on one side of his building, and the Boston Cigar Club store and smoking lounge on the other side and in the basement.
It is a major change as Tangierino was one of the first ventures two decades ago in Charlestown’s emerging restaurant scene that has grown since then, but a decision Naamad said that had to happen.
“It lasted 20 years and I want to thank Charlestown and all the people who loved our food,” he said. “In this time we live in, it is essential to be flexible and look at new angles. It will be different, but it will be a bistro with a touch of flavor. It’s not going to be a boring food. It’s about American food, bistro food, but with a lot of flavors and tastes and seasonings and spices people really enjoy. People can come with family and with kids and go to the Bistro and eat great flavorful food. People can come to the bistro and have a great steak and if they want to go to the other side afterward, they can smoke a premium cigar and have a steak.”
He said the concept is going to be yet another venture that will take some risk, but he’s not averse to such risks – as detailed above by his introduction of Moroccan food to the Town 20 years ago.
“It’s bold, but I’ve never not done anything that isn’t bold,” he said. “Sometimes there are clear paths we have to walk and I think this is the right path and a new direction for Charlestown and much more people who come to Charlestown – people from all over the world.
“There is no other place like this in Boston to come sit down and have a steak and have a cigar and be in Charlestown – which is in my opinion the best neighborhood in Boston,” he continued. “You can walk anywhere you want and with the introduction of the casino and Assembly Row, you’re now in the middle of everything. That puts everything within walking distance for us as the city grows and expands.”
Naamad has already completely revamped the restaurant, using the COVID-19 shutdowns to renovate and paint the walls a snazzy blue and white striped bistro theme – complete with large open windows in the bistro style. He said they will serve burgers, small plates, bone-in ribeye steaks and steak frites – along with all of the other comfort foods one would expect. He said he will do a lot of the cooking, and will create memorable flavors to make sure the food isn’t cookie cutter and likely has some remnants of the old Tangierino tastes.
“During the quarantine, I began to change it up, but softly,” he said. “I didn’t want to go too far. It had to be soft. I wanted to stay in the old bistro model with food that is like a bistro and is flavorful…That’s the idea of Street Bistro Charlestown, to take it a notch up to offer comfort food with flavor intensity and quality driven.”
Next door, the Boston Cigar Club has already taken shape. There is a store that has been built out and outfitted to appropriately house premium cigars that will be sold to customers in person, on curb-side orders (perhaps a delivery service in the future), and online. In the basement, Naamad had opened a Hookah Lounge and bar in 2008, and it was wildly popular. Now, however, he’s getting away from the Hookah and will focus on premium cigars and smoking areas.
“Right now we’re rebranding as a cigar place because I see the future in cigars – not only the people who will come from the community to enjoy cigars and come from the casino too, but online cigar sales, which is huge,” he said. “We will also have curb-side pickup for cigars and work on a delivery service in the future. There are going to be two humidors on site and we’re going to sell cigars at online prices, which is unheard of. It’s a win-win situation for people who enjoy cigars.
“The primary idea for downstairs is to sell steaks and cigars; that’s what we plan to do,” he continued.
The cigar area downstairs will move away from the Hookah smoking, he said, and will focus on the cigar aspect, complete with VIP rooms and comfortable places to have business meetings with plug-in internet access points. Naamad said it’s a place to relax, a place to do business meetings and a place to enjoy premium products.
“This is definitely something people who enjoy cigars will get a kick out of,” he said. “I do too. I love cigars and good steaks and this will be a beautiful place to smoke premium cigars, eat great food and relax.”
Naamad said he tentatively plans a soft opening of the new ventures this Thursday, Sept. 10.