Salvatore’s owner on Seaport restaurant closing: ‘It’s heartbreaking for me’

Owner Peter Ackerman said the neighborhood restaurant couldn’t keep up with the Seaport’s massive development.

Salvatore’s at 545 Washington St. in Boston has a gluten-free menu that includes Italian-style tapas such as Scallops Limoncello as well as penne, arancinis (fried risotto balls), and pizza (pictured).
Pizza from Salvatore’s. –Photo courtesy of Salvatore’s

Italian restaurant Salvatore’s has permanently closed the doors of its Seaport location after more than a decade on Northern Avenue.

The decision was not made lightly, said owner Peter Ackerman three days after going public with the announcement, and came after several months of financial wrangling.

“A year ago, we decided to rebrand and remodel to keep up with the changes in the neighborhood,” Ackerman said. “We’d been there 10, actually 11 years; [back then] it was us and [Legal Test Kitchen]. But the dynamic was starting to change, and we recognized we had to rebrand to survive.”

With restaurants lining up on West Broadway in South Boston, in the Seaport, and in Fort Point, competition in the area is fierce. Ackerman was not able to secure financing in time to do the remodeling, and chose not to renew the restaurant’s lease.

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“It’s a matter of reality, and it wasn’t just us who noticed business drop off,” Ackerman said. “It just got to us first.

“It’s heartbreaking for me,” he continued. “I opened that restaurant in 2007 [as manager]; a lot of the same crew are still around.”

According to its website, Salvatore’s Restaurants was created by Sal Lupoli, a property developer, as an upscale offshoot of the Sal’s Pizza stores. Salvatore’s is a full-service restaurant chain with several branches, including ones in Medford, Andover, and Lawrence. In 2015, the group split up; the two Boston locations (Seaport, Downtown Crossing) were taken over by Ackerman. The suburban locations were sold to different managers, and all of those currently remain open, as does Ackerman’s Downtown Crossing location.

“We are still here,” Ackerman of the Washington Street restaurant. “I’m looking at other locations. I’d love to open our Salvatore’s Express/catering in the Seaport. It needs a great local, affordable place that people can eat at three or four nights a week. We fit that niche. You can’t do that at the $22 martini places.”

Ackerman also owns Renegade’s Pub in East Boston, and he said that, with massive development in Downtown Crossing this decade and East Boston being the next developer’s nest egg, he feels the pressure to stay one step ahead.

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“Renegade’s is in East Boston, right on the water, and developers are running out of space,” he said. “We tried to grow with the neighborhood, both in the Seaport and Washington Street. But will [Downtown Crossing] become oversaturated too and outgrow us? I’d like to think not.”

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