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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Iconic Rosebud diner sold to new management, closes for renovations

The historic Davis Square restaurant closed indefinitely on Oct. 1, and staff have been let go.

Rosebud American Kitchen and Bar is pictured in 2017.

Rosebud American Kitchen and Bar, which was built in 1941 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, has closed for renovations following brunch on Sunday, Oct. 1.

The popular 381 Summer St. location, known for its modern American cuisine and formerly owned by Alpine Restaurant Group Inc., was purchased by Bindaas Concepts Inc., which is owned by Babu Koganti.

“We love Davis Square, we love Somerville and the community,” Koganti told the Daily. “When Alpine Group approached us [saying] that they want to sell this … we thought we could help. That’s a great location and … it’s a historical legacy.

The closure will allow time for Bindaas to make repairs within the building and “have every small nook and corner be addressed,” he said, citing a leaking roof and pest control issues. Bindaas also plans to introduce traditional Indian cuisine to the Rosebud menu. Despite these changes, Koganti says he remains committed to preserving the history of the diner.

“We want to keep the legacy [of Rosebud] going and add some Indian inspired dishes …which would open up the boundaries,” Koganti explained. “We want to keep the ‘diner feel’ to it and still keep the old classics, like the grilled cheeseburger. … It’s not going to be another average [Indian] restaurant where you can find chicken tikka masala or butter naan or a mango lassi. It's going to be a very unique concept.”

However, Rosebud’s former staff and management said they felt blindsided and caught off guard by the very short notice of the closure.

“It was sort of a bizarre announcement,” former general manager Olivia Papp said. “[It was like] ‘hey everyone, you don’t have a job after Sunday’ and also, ‘let’s get ready to rumble because we’ve got an extremely busy week ahead of us.’”

After learning Rosebud would close, Papp informed staff of the change.

“Thursday [Sept. 21], we got a call to come into the restaurant,” bartender Steph Giordano said. “Then, our general manager … explained to us that we will be closing the doors as of [Oct. 1] because the corporation that bought us said that they’re going to close, do renovations to the space and then do a concept change.”

Giordano also suspects that Bindaas is withholding information about the extent of the restaurant’s changes.

“Originally, they said that they were going to do Indian fusion with American diner,” Giordano said. “But there’s been a lot of speculation online [and] they kind of have been retracting their statements on what this concept change is.”

According to Giordano, the change was completely unexpected, and there was a lack of communication from Bindaas.

“I’m not happy,” Giordano said. “There was no indication that this was going to ever happen. When they purchased this restaurant originally, they said that they weren’t going to do exactly what they’re doing. They said they were going to keep Rosebud the same and keep all the staff. … To pull the rug out underneath like 55 employees 90 days later is absolutely absurd to me.”

Giordano praised Rosebud as “one of the best restaurants I’ve worked for.”

“A lot of the staff that used to work there frequently come and visit and still support [us] … when Rosebud needs it. It’s like a little community place,” Giordano said.

In light of the situation, Papp praised the way her team handled the announcement.

“Despite the worst case scenario that we’re facing from a business standpoint, the team’s response to all of this has been more than mature and caring,” Papp said. “[We have] dedication and passion for what we do and [are] showing up for each other and for our regulars and our guests. … We want to represent what we do and basically give the people what they want to the very last day.”

Since Massachusetts law prohibits service employees from sharing tips with back of house workers, Papp told the Daily that the previous ownership agreed to start a support fund for Rosebud’s former chefs, hosts and dishwashers.