After the book and music retailing industries began to metamorphose, most small operators threw up their hands and walked away, but David Doyle took a different route, a decidedly independent route.
"I think basically on both the book and music side (of business) we realized about five years ago that both were in trouble in various ways," he said.
He figured that a new revenue stream and a new business model was necessary. He added that the music store will "continue to offer their 'essentials' selection of hand-picked harder to find items, focusing more on a collector's inventory than a Billboard top ten." And books, real books, will be available by special order as well as from a stocked inventory similar to what they have always had. But it is the third piece that will change everything.
He said that these days people want convenience. In an effort to provide that convenience, Doyle thought that a little something to eat to accompany the book and music browsing, might do the trick. He considered offering a low-key, light menu, but as the idea evolved, he realized that he wanted to create a restaurant that is as good as his music and book collection, a destination all by itself.
The way he tells it, grilled cheese just doesn't do justice to Miles Davis or Fyodor Dostoevsky. A selection of fine tapas just might do the trick. He thinks that it will be the only bookstore/music shop/restaurant in Boston. "My goal is that by being top quality in all areas, each will support the other." He is either a glutton for punishment or an idealist with vision. Time will tell.
None of this would be possible if the 47-year-old Doyle and his brothers hadn't purchased the real estate. After spending a fair amount of money for leasehold improvements at their previous location, all of which was lost due to the capriciousness of their landlord, Doyle swore that he would never again spend so much of his own money on someone else's property. He and two brothers bought the current location in 2007 for more than $500,000 and it has been the anchor that allows them to invest and continue to take risks. His brother Scott, a former partner in the restaurant, put it aside to move west in full time pursuit of a career writing fiction. He maintains an interest in the real estate along with a third brother, Bret. Apparently, the Doyle brothers share the commitment trait. David said, "I believe that the only way to make this work is to go all the way and not do something halfway...really add a full blown, top quality restaurant."
So, while Rhythm and Muse has been closed since July, it has been spending time in a chrysalis undergoing the transformation that Doyle is betting will fly. He and his wife have sunk a little bit of Mt. Washington Bank's money and considerably more of their own life savings into the project. The finish work is all but complete, the inspectors are all on the docket and the top notch chefs are on board. This butterfly is just about ready to try its wings.
After a soft opening to experiment on family and friends, Tres Gatos, Spanish for Three Cats, will open to the public for dinner at 5 pm on Wednesday.
Doyle expects this third cat, featuring a frequently changing menu that emphasizes local fare, to become a JP favorite, meanwhile he is honing his retail message to include a list of wines, which his wife and co-owner Maricely Perez-Alers, a Spanish wine enthusiast, had a hand in selecting. He is still toying with ideas about creating pairings that go well beyond the usual food and wine to perhaps incorporate a particularly apt musical selection and a featured reading. Possibilities abound.
Although Perez-Alers works full time in the medical field, Doyle expects to see her a night or two a week in the restaurant. The other prime movers are Marcos Sanchez (formerly sous chef at Dante) who will be their head chef, and Lydia Reichert (formerly sous chef at Craigie on Main) who will be their sous chef.