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First Person

David Punch branches out with Little Big Diner in Newton

The owner of Sycamore ventures into East Asian soul food with his new spot.

David Punch in his Newton restaurant Sycamore.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

It’s been really awesome working over there. Everyone has been super supportive; my regulars at Sycamore are asking about it every night.

For my second spot, I wanted to do something close to my first restaurant. I didn’t want to become a chef who was an hour away for my first expansion. I didn’t think I could give them what they both deserve, and I wanted to be in the restaurant every day.

I always wanted to do something more casual. We’ve been doing the bistro thing for a very long time now. I wanted to do something different. Initially I was going to do a noodle shop, because I’m madly in love with ramen. I decided to do something a bit different because all the while, planning my ramen shop, one of my close friends, Alison Hearn — from Hustle Cat, a Southeast Asian barbecue pop-up concept — was looking to do her own thing. We decided to join forces and do a little combo restaurant.

We both want and love this type of restaurant. It’s something really approachable, where you can eat a few times a week, with big, bold flavors. We’re not going to be afraid of making something really spicy if we write “spicy” on the menu.


It’s a small, tiny microrestaurant with 18 seats and East Asian soul food. We’re treating it like a diner. We want to open at 11 in the morning with service throughout the day with the same menu, which is very diner-y. We wanted to do some stuff from Japan, we wanted to do some stuff from China. My executive chef, Daniel Scott, is Korean — his mom is a killer home cook. He grew up drying squid on his kitchen table. His kimchi [is] incredible.

PULL UP A CHAIR Little Big Diner opens at 1247 Centre Street, about two blocks from Sycamore on the other side of the Newton Centre Green, in late summer.