across America have praised Bob Calderone's food, calling
it "bold," "prepared with real gusto,"
and "creative." He burst on the national scene
in the early 1990's and by 1993 Money magazine
declared he was running of the best restaurants in America.
Bon Appetite and Esquire soon offered their
accolades, propelling Bob to the upper ranks of his chosen
field. Not bad for a young man who started his cooking
career at McDonald's.
Bob grew up in Somerville, Massachusetts, the youngest
of three children. He remembers his first restaurant
jobs as simply a way to make a little money. But that
changed quickly in 1979 when he began to work at Panache
in Cambridge. Chef owner Bruce Frankel was pushing a
new type of food, nouvelle French, and Bob was fascinated.
He counts Frankel as one of the most important influences
on his career, a man who forced him to take the restaurant
business seriously while learning to express his creativity
in the kitchen. Bob worked side-by-side with Frankel
for the next nine years; even running the entire show
for two years while Frankel concentrated on a new restaurant.
After this new venture closed, Frankel returned to Panache,
but downscaled it to become 798 Main Street.
Bob left to expand his repertoire by cooking at several
Boston area hotels including the Layfayette Hotel, the
Copley Plaza and the Dedham Hilton. In 1992 Bob returned
to 798 Main Street to purchase the restaurant with his
significant other Susan Finegold, who is now his wife.
They changed the name to Anago Bistro and together turned
it into one of the hottest restaurants in the country.
He draws heavily on his Mediterranean roots for inspiration
and is known for creatively balancing flavors. Sampling
menus are another specialty at Anago as Bob loves to
see his guests enjoy a wide variety of dishes. He believes
a great restaurant not only offers excellent food but
crates an atmosphere that is warm and welcoming. His
success is a tribute to both his culinary creativity
and his common sense philosophy that diners recognize
as the mark of man who truly loves to make his customers
Interview with Bob...
GlobalChefs; Why did you leave the security of the
hotel environment to set up Anago?
To fulfill the dream of owning my own restaurant, like
most chefs it was what I had always wanted and with
the help of Bruce Frankel it was possible.
How did you go about finding backers?
Bruce Frankel was the main backer, then there was family
friends and my credit card. I only needed about $25
000 in working capital to get started thanks to the
great deal Bruce gave us (Bob's partner and Wife Susan
Finegold). The money was paid back after the first year
with the exception of Bruce, he was paid back after
five years. When we moved Anago to Boston it was not
so simple. We ended up with twenty five partners with
one share each. One share represents a $10 000 interest
in Anago. We pay them yearly interest and they have
dining credits to. We can buy them out after five years.
On top of that we have one other major partner.
How much business training did you have prior to
opening…. How much do you have now!
Very minimal, I am a little wiser now, however Susan
drives the business side of things.
How did you market Anago prior to opening and how
did that change afterwards?
When we moved to Boston, Anago came to life on the
wave of the great press it had received in its previous
location. Since opening curiosity and continued timely
press has kept us busy especially a piece in The Boston
How was your staff turnover in the first year?
In the kitchen I still have the three people who came
with me from the old restaurant. That has been a great
base to work from. Front of the house has been a little
What did you buy that you did not need?
Nothing really, the wood burning grill was not quite
the one I needed ....
What did you expect to happen that did not?
I expected business to be a little easier, bigger lunch
business, more hotel related business and banquets.
Who are your customers?
It's pretty broad,business people, people from the
suburbs, city folk and some hotel guests. Generally
it's the slightly older crowd thirty fives plus.
What is your food cost?
Who takes care of your books?
An outside company.
What would you do differently if you did it again?
Just some design stuff, flow related.......