Andy Kilgore, 52, has bartended at just about every big restaurant in town, from No. 9 Park (“It was all Cosmos and apple martinis, and here we were making Aviations!”) to Lucca to Stoddard’s to the late, lamented Chez Henri and Foundry on Elm. Now the Aspen transplant and former ski instructor runs his own place, The Emory, on Beacon Hill.
What’s the first restaurant that you ever visited in Boston? I remember exactly what it was: The Border Café in Harvard Square. I’m sure I ate something really greasy.
What’s one thing you’d like to fix about the restaurant industry here? The quality of life for people in the restaurant business: late nights, varied schedules, all of that. That’s the hardest part.
What other restaurants do you visit? I’m getting older and don’t go out as much as I used to! I live in Somerville. On this side of the river, I go to Highland Kitchen and the Independent in Union Square. For pizza, I often go to Regina.
What’s your earliest food memory that made you think, ‘I want to work in restaurants?’ I remember being 10 or 12 years old, out for dinner with my parents and grandparents, and ordering duck, Everyone was like, “Why are you ordering duck at 12?” Maybe that was an indication. I was always adventuresome when I saw something different on the menu.
What’s the worst restaurant experience you’ve ever had? Here’s a good one: Sitting at a small Italian restaurant’s bar in the North End, spilling red pepper flecks, and the owner bringing out a dust vacuum in front of my plate. I never ate there again.
How could the Boston food scene improve? The trend toward large restaurants versus small, neighborhood, family-owned — I’d like there to be more of that. I think it’s hard to do anything really special in a 300-seat restaurant.
How has the restaurant scene changed since you first arrived in Boston? I moved here in 2001. It’s completely different. There are so many more options. It’s just bigger!
Name three adjectives for Boston diners. Enthusiastic, desperate for anything different, and loyal.
What’s the most overdone trend right now? Probably tacos. Everyone is opening a taco bar. Or an oyster bar.
What type of restaurant is Boston missing? I don’t know if anything’s missing, but I’d like to see more mom-and-pop shops. I think there’s too many Irish pubs! I think everything is here, but what’s the quality?
What are you reading? I’ve been so busy with the opening that I’ve been doing more audio. I’ve been listening to a lot of TED talks. I can listen on my commute. The one I like the best is “Sleep Is Your Superpower.” It talks about the difference between the quality of work you can put out on four or five hours sleep versus seven or eight.
How’s your commute? I live three miles from work. I live in Somerville. It can take anywhere from 15 to 50 minutes depending on the day. I take Ubers; I take the T. If the Orange Line is running properly, I can get to work in 30 minutes.
What’s the one food you never want to eat again? I’m not a big olive guy. Greek food isn’t really my thing.
What’s your most missed Boston restaurant? That’s easy! Erbaluce.
Who was your most memorable customer? Boy, so many. I could give you 100 names. There’s been a lot of them, and I still have great relationships with many. I was a bartender for many years. There was a very Southern gentleman, Rolo, with a heavy Southern drawl, and he was funny. He made me laugh, and he only ate steak! This was at Blu at the Sports Club/LA, when Dante [de Magistris] was the chef.
If you had to eat your last meal in Boston, what would it be? Currently, as it stands, I have to give tribute to Jeff Nace at Neptune Oyster. I’d eat everything there. It’s still the best lobster roll in town.