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Smith & Wollensky makes Boston its base

Headquarters is near new Fort Point outlet

Michael Feighery, Smith & Wollensky’s president, said the decision to move the corporate office to Boston helps centralize operations and gives the company’s executives easier access to key East Coast outlets. Michael Feighery, Smith & Wollensky’s president, said the decision to move the corporate office to Boston helps centralize operations and gives the company’s executives easier access to key East Coast outlets. (Kayana Szymczak for The Boston Globe)
By Casey Ross
Globe Staff / August 23, 2011

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Smith & Wollensky is establishing its corporate headquarters in Boston’s financial district, a few blocks from a restaurant the steakhouse chain is opening next month along Fort Point Channel.

The decision has significantly increased the chain’s presence in the city. It was purchased in 2007 by Bunker Hill Capital, a Boston private equity firm that has revamped the company’s leadership and added several positions.

The new corporate office at 260 Franklin St. houses just 12 executives, but opening the restaurant will result in the hiring of about 100 employees.

Smith & Wollensky’s president, Michael Feighery, said yesterday that the decision to make Boston the corporate headquarters helps centralize operations and gives the company’s executives easier access to key East Coast outlets.

The chain also has restaurants in Philadelphia, Miami, and Washington, D.C., among other cities.

“We have a consolidated team here in Boston that increases our reaction time and is very efficient,’’ Feighery said. “Having everybody in the Eastern time zone is extremely important for us.’’

Feighery spoke outside the company’s new location in the office-retail complex at Atlantic Wharf, where construction workers were finishing a 9,000-square-foot restaurant on the ground floor of 290 Congress St.

The restaurant will feature an outdoor bar and patio overlooking Fort Point Channel and the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, which is under construction.

The Atlantic Wharf property, redeveloped in recent years by Boston Properties, sits on the edge of the Financial District and functions as a gateway to the burgeoning Innovation District on the South Boston Waterfront.

Feighery said Smith & Wollensky became focused on the location after he spoke to Mayor Thomas M. Menino at a real estate conference in Las Vegas.

“We look for two or three things: tourist support, in a business area, and near the water,’’ he said. “There are very few locations like this left in the United States. So when someone offers you that, you snap it up.’’

The company’s other Boston restaurant is in a stone-and-brick castle on Arlington Street.

Menino said the company’s additional commitments here are a sign it believes the city is poised for growth.

“They contemplated this for a while,’’ Menino said, “but their decision shows that they have confidence in the business climate here and felt reassured that this is a good investment.’’

A week ago, Sovereign Bank announced that it would move its headquarters to Boston.

Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com

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