There’s no soft-pedaling it. After more than 30 years, Strip-T’s is closing. The Watertown hole-in-the-wall first made its name with a steak sandwich and evolved into an unlikely culinary destination. When it closes, it will take a little piece of the restaurant scene’s soul with it.
Paul Maslow opened the place in 1986. He had worked all over town. At Brigham’s in high school. At the Ritz-Carlton, across from his father’s advertising agency, where he went in with a fresh haircut, wearing a tie and jacket, and asked to become an apprentice. At Lechner’s Gourmet Restaurant, where the kitchen was on the third floor and orders were sent down on dumbwaiters. At Cafe Budapest; at Turner Fisheries. But he didn’t want to work fine-dining hours. Plus, the people at those fancy Ritz banquets didn’t look like they were having a very good time.
And so: Strip-T’s, which in addition to strip-steak sandwiches specialized in saucy banter. Every Friday was “customer abuse’’ day: Servers would tell you to get your own cup of coffee, to write down your own order. Customers loved being insulted. The menu grew. The soups were a draw; so were the onion rings. The restaurant was only open for lunch, then for dinner. Then came the most substantial change, in 2011. Maslow’s son Tim — a chef trained at the French Culinary Institute who had been working at David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants in New York — came home to reinvent the place. Strip-T’s went from a mainstay of local office workers to a sudden hotspot.