Right on schedule, the 5:15 p.m. express train from Boston clanged its way through the Concord station. Vincent Vela picked up his head and checked his watch. He knew he had to prepare for the dinner crowd.
“I know when the train arrives, it’s 15 minutes until we open,” said Vela.
And at that moment, Ian Calhoun called the six-person staff together for opening night at 80 Thoreau, a new French-inspired restaurant and bar at the Thoreau Street train depot.
“Let’s bring it in,” said Calhoun, a Harvard MBA with an undergraduate degree from the Cornell School of Hotel Management and Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Calhoun worked in New York City before moving back to the area to look for a site for a new restaurant.
The depot has hosted several restaurants over the years, but has stood vacant for the past few, so there was significant buzz about Calhoun’s plan for 80 Thoreau when he came before the selectmen seeking a common victualler’s and an all-alcohol license.
Calhoun and Vela spent the winter completely redoing the second-floor dining room and kitchen and the result is a sophisticated space with gray banquettes and tables on a shiny wood floor and exposed beams. The curved bar is spacious and allows for seating. Calhoun expanded the former restaurant to include the space that was once a gift shop. There is an elevator from the street level.
The menu is inspired by Calhoun’s experience in Paris, with an emphasis on using locally grown produce, fresh-caught fish and meats. The former dining room at one end of the floor is intact with the addition of windows to let in the light. Diners familiar with the old eateries will find a new experience at 80 Thoreau.
Visit www.80thoreau.com for more information or to make a reservation.