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The burgeoning Burlington restaurant business

Posted by Chad O'Connor  January 3, 2013 11:00 AM

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According to the Jim Murphy, President/CEO of the Burlington Massachusetts Area Chamber of Commerce, Burlington is a place to live, work, and play, and many high tech companies such as SAP AG and Burlington’s 2nd largest employer, Oracle, have set up locations. Burlington should see more growth in the coming years as Keurig recently leased a large space for administration and R&D, with the potential for adding up to 400 new jobs. The Burlington area, with its diverse mix of businesses, executive parks, and residents that may not want to travel to Boston for an upscale dining experience, is very well positioned for a growing number of restaurants. Tavern in the Square recently opened a Burlington location, Bobby Flay has plans to open a Burger Palace, and more restaurants are on the way to accommodate the area’s recent boom.

Columbus Hospitality Group, which includes restaurants such as Mistral and Sorellina in its portfolio, decided to capitalize on Burlington’s expansion several years ago after careful market research and opened its Tuscan-themed restaurant, L’Andana, a Chef Jamie Mammano restaurant.

I spoke with L’Andana’s manager, Alex Hage, and manager at Columbus Hospitality Group, Mark D’Alessandro, whom provided insight into the dynamics around locating and operating a restaurant in Burlington.

Why did Columbus Hospitality Group decide to expand outside of Boston and open a restaurant in Burlington?

The Columbus Hospitality Group wanted to expand its operations to reach a broader client base. Burlington is a hot area - it has really been transformed over the past 7 to 8 years as a hub for technology companies. We wanted to capture both the clientele that lives in the suburbs and the business people that work in the area, including the senior-level executives that fly into Hanscom Airfield on private jets. Lots of business dinners take place at L’Andana Monday through Thursday, and the residents in the area generally dine at the restaurant on weekends.

The location is accessible to Routes 3, 95/128, 93, and the Mass Pike, and as an added bonus, we have a private parking lot and offer complimentary parking and valet service.

Columbus Hospitality Group

The L'Andana dining room

What dynamics were involved in planning the restaurant’s construction and design?

We went with a farm to table theme and designed the restaurant with rustic modern Tuscan farmhouse décor. The restaurant’s interior is constructed with restored barn wood and has chandeliers made from old wine barrels, modern animal print chairs, plants and olive trees, and apples or lemons depending on the season.

We wanted to offer a variety of dining options from our large bar and lounge area and the main dining room that seats over 150 guests, to our private dining and event space that many individuals and businesses take advantage of. We also offer an al fresco dining option during the warm weather seasons.

What sets you apart from other restaurants?

We cook with a wood grill - it is distinctive from restaurants found in the city due to the nature of the exhaust system. Menu offerings include wood-grilled meats, dry-aged beef, which we age in-house, and fish our chef hand selects at the pier every morning from our wholesale fish company. This allows us to get the best selection of fresh fish on a timely basis.

We use fresh herbs and vegetables grown seasonally in L’Andana’s private garden behind the restaurant. Our beverages are made with house-made syrups and herbs from our garden. Everything is infused in-house.

L’Andana has four sister restaurants located in Boston, and that gives us stronger buying power. We leverage our buying power to get the best products in the country for the best price while maintaining quality without raising our prices. Margins are so small in the restaurant business, so it is very beneficial to build buying power. L’Andana employs a corporate purchasing manager, whose job is to negotiate pricing for the volume of products we buy. Of course, continued relationship building with distributors is very important for negotiations to be effective. We always focus on long-term relationships.

Ellen Keiley is President of the MBA Women International Boston Chapter Board of Directors and is a Boston World Partnerships Connector. She can be contacted at

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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