Tim and Nancy Cushman run o ya, a lauded, swank Japanese restaurant in the Leather District. Their second Boston venture will be more “funky, high-energy, and different,” manager Alyssa DiPasquale tells the Globe: a Japanese izakaya, or gastropub, inside Fenway’s rock-and-roll-inspired Verb Hotel — which was once a Howard Johnson and home to the venerable Hong Kong Cafe. The hotel opens today.
Hojoko “will showcase a whole different side of Japanese culture for Tim and Nancy to explore, kind of Tokyo pop,” says DiPasquale. “We’ll be able to offer things we can’t offer at O Ya.”
“Nancy Cushman has an amazing voice, Tim went to Berklee College of Music, and we feel so connected to this project. We’re in the food industry, but we all pretend that we’re rock and rollers,” she says.
The Cushmans also operate Roof at Park South in New York City, where they serve a Mediterranean menu. Ted Kilpatrick, former bar manager at Boston’s No. 9 Park, handles cocktails at their New York outpost. DiPasquale notes that he also mixed drinks at the Hong Kong Cafe’s going-away party at Howard Johnson. A hint of what’s to come for Hojoko’s beverage program, perhaps?
Robin Brown, a partner at the hotel, says it’s fate.
“We’re friends, Tim and Nancy called me and said, ‘What? We’re in a band together. We’re musicians. We’ve dreamed of this!’ So we struck a deal. It’s a complete, ironic, crazy gift from heaven,’” Brown says.
The restaurant will open in late fall.