Amy Latimer’s day-to-day responsibilities read like a career resume. As president of TD Garden, Amy directs and oversees all operations at TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics and host to many of the world’s most popular music and entertainment acts. The dynamic center hosts 150-plus events and millions of guests each year.
She’s also critical to The Hub on Causeway – a 1.5 million sf retail, office, hotel and residential development, being built on the parcel of land directly adjacent to TD Garden and the original site of the old Boston Garden. The project brings new hotel and residential spaces to the area, along with a 20-concept food hall, new restaurants and the largest below-grade grocery in Boston. All to say, every day, around the world and across oceans and time zones, Amy is leading some of the most dynamic food, entertainment and development projects in the industry.
Kind enough to spare a few minutes for our team, Amy recently connected with me to talk about The Hub on Causeway, trends in food and hospitality development, and more.
Delaware North’s efforts span the globe; what trends are you seeing that will shape food and hospitality for the decade ahead?
My work takes me around the globe, but Boston’s definitely home. And one thing we’re seeing in our city that’s happening all over is that landmark restaurants that have been around 50 years are now closing. Nobody can believe it, but at the same time, it’s very predictable. You have to evolve or you risk irrelevance. The days of the same people coming every Friday are over. That’s not a sustainable model.
Today, success in food and hospitality comes down to numerous factors. At the core, you have to deliver excellent, high-quality food. The market is so competitive, that anything less won’t survive. If you can do that, you still have so much else to navigate. Technologies like Uber Eats mean fewer customers may walk through your doors, but you can still reach them if you embrace that shift. New generations crave experience, so you can’t just build it and they will come. How do you connect with customers via entertainment, happy hours, free fitness classes – this is part of a food operator’s world and business plan now. We’re taking all of that into consideration inside TD Garden and also with The Hub on Causeway project. We know it’s going to be transformational for the neighborhood, but I think it’s also going to be a leading-edge model for urban food and hospitality development.
The Hub on Causeway is such an incredible opportunity. In what ways will it transform the neighborhood?
Just five years ago the area around TD Garden had no real residential component and its culinary scene was essentially pubs that happened to sell food. That’s all begun to shift, and The Hub on Causeway is going to push that to an entirely new level. This project alone introduces a new hotel, more residential space and commercial space. And, when it comes to food, we’re opening a food hall with authentic Boston concepts, new full-service restaurants, Star Market (the largest below-grade grocery in Boston) and a 1,500-peron live music venue – it’s night and day.
This project takes the place of the original Boston Garden, which had been a parking lot for the past 19 years. The Jacobs family’s vision, the idea to have this incredible mixed-use retail and new front door for TD Garden, I think we’d have been the first sports arena to have that had we opened when they first envisioned. After several years of thorough planning, we’re well on our way to realizing the transformational benefits this project will have on the immediate neighborhood and city of Boston as a whole.
You reference residential, commercial, entertainment. That rolls off the tongue, but those are different types of customers with different needs. How do you serve them all?
That’s a good point. The project also sits on a major transportation hub for Boston, so there are 50,000 people walking through each day besides the 400 apartment units, and the hotel that doesn’t really offer any food or beverage. So, you’re right, we need to come at it on all different levels.
Star Market (the grocery store) really embraces prepared food for those who seek healthy options they can grab and take upstairs quickly. So that really serves many of the residents and local employees. The approach our Delaware North and Patina teams have taken in the food hall and restaurant is going to foster community. I think sports are still one of the last real communal experiences in our social fabric. You go there with your family – it’s a multi-generational experience – and food is a huge part of it. The Hub on Causeway will foster that communal experience directly outside the building as well.
There’s definitely a line with all the different types of people who will be our customers. But, I think with the food hall, restaurants, entertainment offerings, we’ve created a scaled system. And, then you add the grocery store – I just think we’ve created a 360-degree ecosystem of food that will allow us to take care of every single person who comes through.
You said new generations crave authentic food experiences. Whether it’s an airport, TD Garden, The Hub, how do you create them?
[Laughing] That’s the secret ingredient; you want me to give it away? In all seriousness, authenticity is now a business strategy. So, when we’re selecting operators for our spaces, we search high and low to find ones that are unique and help create that experiential component. There is no tried and true anymore; you have to put in the effort to create something truly original.
We’ve certainly done our research and have several of these authentic Boston concepts planned for the food hall. We can’t share the plans just yet, but fresh, local seafood is most definitely an anchor for the space. I think there are thousands of entertaining, delicious reasons to visit TD Garden and soon The Hub on Causeway will add nearly two dozen more.