Boston is a well-balanced metropolis of professionals, academics, college students, and families. It’s this diversity that makes it such a great place to start a venture and add even more life to the city.
The small business scene in Boston is blossoming. From a make-your-own-beer brewery to a steakhouse speakeasy, we found the coolest new businesses in Beantown.
What it is: A handbag company that has a unique charity donation policy.
Why it's cool: Angela & Roi handbags come in all sorts of colours, but when choosing, most customers don't just think about the colour they like, but the 'colour' they're donating to. A portion of each bag sale goes to the charity whose colour coordinates with the bag -- red is for HIV/AIDS, pink is for breast cancer, etc. Angela & Roi bags are also eco-conscious, made without animal products or sweatshop labour.
What it is: A bar, restaurant, and event space inspired by the Beat Generation
Why it's cool: Don't be fooled by the name! Beat Hôtel isn't actually a hotel; it's a bar and restaurant inspired by the Beat and Hippie movements of the '50s and '60s. Filled with live music of those eras, the Cambridge brasserie caters to carnivores and vegetarians alike with tasty-yet-casual food and drinks.
What it is: An easy-to-use bespoke clothing service.
Why it's cool: Blank Label outfits customers with perfectly fitting custom-made shirts, trousers, suits, and blazers. Customers can book an appointment at the office or choose from more than 6,000 custom shirts online. Blank Label's tailors will take measurements and ask some fit preference questions to create a personal size pattern, or 'fit blueprint,' and custom-make everything in no more than two weeks.
What it is: A tiny, speakeasy-like steakhouse hidden within a restaurant
Why it's cool: If you enter burger joint jm Curley and go down the stairs, you'll find Bogie's Place, a steakhouse named for Humphrey Bogart, hidden behind a private curtain. It's so secretive that most people can dine at jm Curley and never know it's there. Bogie's Place is reservation-only and very small, with about 20 seats and a bar. Very intimate, it gives customers a 1940s experience with delicious food.
What it is: A new cycling studio that makes working out convenient and affordable for everyone.
Why it's cool: Spinning is the hottest fitness trend right now, but it can be pricey. B/SPOKE offers fitness classes and lifestyle products, from apparel to workout music, at more affordable prices than many of its competitors -- as little as $US15 a class. And clients never have to worry about being unsatisfied. 'My cofounder Ryan and I are always in the studio,' cofounder Mark Partin said. 'We listen to our clients' needs and pivot our plans if we feel that we are not meeting them.'
What it is: A shop that sells made-to-order Chilean sandwiches.
Why it's cool: A chacarero is a traditional Chilean sandwich that's made up of a soft roll filled with meat, cheese, veggies, and -- at this Boston shop -- a spread of avocado and a secret ingredient. At Chacarero, you get to pick your choice of everything and enjoy Chilean food in a way it's never been explored in Boston before.
What it is: A cleaning service that uses non-toxic cleaning products.
Why it's cool: Founder Joe Paiva believes a clean home is a happy home, but a home cleaned without toxin- or chemical-based products is an even happier home. Paiva's company operates on his philosophy, using environmentally friendly microfiber cloths, non-toxic cleaning solutions, and vacuums armed with HEPA purifying air filters to clean clients' homes with the best service, both safely and happily.
What it is: A full-service restaurant and coffee bar designed specifically for innovators.
Why it's cool: Gather and Brew are popular among entrepreneurs and free-thinkers, who visit Brew during the day for a space to work, network, and drink coffee and Gather at night for delicious food and drinks. Both venues are located within District Hall, so Gather and Brew customers are free to explore the Hall's workspaces, classrooms, and building surfaces, almost all of which can be used to write on and exchange ideas.
What it is: A bar where beer and whiskey come together.
Why it's cool: Whether you're a hophead or a whiskey fiend you won't feel out of place at Hops N Scotch, which marries 120 different beers and over 100 different whiskies with expertly thought-out comfort food. 'The key to our success is change,' said co-owner Darren Tow. 'We are always coming up with creative menu items, beverages and cocktails.' Hops N Scotch also believes in educating customers, and offers monthly Scotch tastings to do just that. A second HNS location is set to open in Cambridge by the end of the month.
What it is: A make-your-own-beer brewery and restaurant.
Why it's cool: This 'community brewery' allows you to brew up to 10 kettles of beer in one sitting while sampling tasty cured meats and other food. Pick your barley, hops, and malt, and create a custom beer from scratch. No idea what you're doing? Consult with one of their beer experts for a tutorial on beer making.
What it is: An upscale, dog-friendly hotel.
Why it's cool: Travelling with a dog can be difficult, especially when it comes to finding decent accommodations for you and your four-legged friend, but Hotel Commonwealth goes above and beyond to cater to the needs of both human and canine guests. The hotel offers special services for dogs like dog sitters, dog walkers, groomers, and masseuses, as well as in-room dining options and special pet beds.
What it is: A brewery that lets you get involved in the brew process.
Why it's cool: Idle Hands moved into a run-down warehouse on the outskirts of Boston and turned it into a place where people can not only just gather and hang out with a great, Belgian-inspired beer, but can help out behind the scenes as well. Idle Hands has a loyal group of volunteers who come and assist on bottling days. Lunch is usually provided, and 'no one walks away empty-handed.'
What it is: A running apparel company that gives back.
Why it's cool: Everyone knows water is important in running in order to replenish the body as it sweats; but of course, water is necessary to every living thing, which is why Janji has made it its mission to alleviate global water-related problems. Janji's stylish men's and women's running apparel and accessories directly benefit people in Haiti, parts of Africa, and the US in the middle of a water crisis.
What it is: A board game library and cafe.
Why it's cool: Knight Moves has nearly 30 board games to choose from, with weekly events and tournaments. Monthly 'membership' plans are also available for hardcore gamers, who then get perks of snacks and drinks during game sessions. Knight Moves is new to the area, but it's already a safe haven for lovers of Settlers of Catan and Dungeons & Dragons alike.
What it is: Makers of high-tech dress shirts for men.
Why it's cool: Taking fashion to the next level, Ministry of Supply makes dress shirts that regulate your temperature using some of the same technology NASA uses in its space suits to cool the body and release heat. After its humble beginnings as a Kickstarter campaign, Ministry of Supply has produced more than 12,000 shirts for customers in 48 countries, and now also makes undershirts, pants, and socks. Their Boston pop-up location is on Newbury Street; they also have a second pop-up in San Francisco.
What it is: An easier way to prep meals for the whole family.
Why it's cool: Cooking for an entire family is no easy feat, but when someone -- or everyone -- has dietary restrictions, it makes it infinitely more challenging. PlateJoy takes the challenge out of dinner almost completely. Fill out a lifestyle profile, view your menu, and PlateJoy will send you a shopping list and recipes to make enough for you and the whole family.
What it is: One of the hottest robotics companies in the US.
Why it's cool: Rethink Robots makes easy-to-train robots that are designed to learn and respond to new commands. These robots can 'learn' tasks simply by having a human worker guide its arms; from there, it remembers the skill.
The robots are also relatively affordable at $US25,000 -- as compared to the typical cost of $US50,000 to $US250,000, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Rethink Robots is definitely one of the hottest robotics companies around. The company just raised over $US26 million.
Online, based in Boston
What it is: An online grocery delivery service for local goods.
Why it's cool: Started by three Cornell University students, Rosie lets customers shop online from their favourite local stores and choose a same-day delivery or in-store pickup option. It's the best new way to get your favourite local produce and other goods all in one place. 'We want to transform grocery shopping from a chore to a delightful experience, and are constantly innovating to make this a reality,' said cofounder Jon Ambrose. Rosie started in Ithaca, New York, but is based out of Boston and participates with a growing number of retailers around the country.
What it is: A shoe store that's completely animal product-free.
Why it's cool: All the shoes at Sudo Shoes are vegan -- they're not made with leather, suede, or any animal products whatsoever. The company is out to prove that well-made, great-looking shoes can also be made humanely. Sudo also sells purses and other accessories to match.
What it is: A cocktail lover's, and maker's, supply shop.
Why it's cool: The Boston Shaker is stocked with the best cocktail-making equipment money can buy. The shop is proud to serve the best mixologists in Boston, but makes a point to cater to cocktail newbies with a warm and non-judgmental attitude. The Boston Shaker will provide you with books, glasses and, of course, shakers, but more importantly the shop provides knowledge, including cocktail techniques classes and pointers from staff.
What it is: A modern-day speakeasy that pays tribute to Scotch.
Why it's cool: Wink & Nod is climbing aboard the speakeasy train with expertly crafted cocktails and small bites curated from its culinary pop-up program in which rotating local chefs work their magic in the kitchen to complement the free-flowing libations. Wink & Nod is devoted particularly to Scotch, and pays homage with an exclusive Scotch Club -- a weekly meeting where, for a fee, Scotch lovers and Scotch-lover-wannabes can taste top shelf selections from Wink & Nod's beverage director.
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