MEDFORD — The newest restaurant in town may also be the most homegrown one in city history.
Bistro 489 is located inside Medford High School and much of the design and construction work is being done by Vocational Technical High School students, and students will prepare and serve the meals.
Medford Superintendent of Schools Roy Belson said the concept behind the $1.1 million project was that the restaurant, set to open next month, would incorporate contributions from the school community.
“It’s been a true community effort in the Medford Public Schools and across the city,” he said. “We’ve had so many contributions from individuals and groups for this project.”
The place is named for the school’s address at 489 Winthrop St.
Monday’s ribbon-cutting was led by Mayor Stephanie Burke, Belson, state Rep. Paul Donato, and other city and school officials, as well as representatives of labor and trade unions from the area who donated services, work time and oversaw some of the student workers.
Medford Tech Principal Chad Fallon said his students got eight months of hands-on experience working on the restaurant’s design, construction and outfitting.
That’s what makes it so unique, he said.
“The majority of the work was done by the students in the carpentry program, the craft laborers program, the electrical program and the HVAC-R and metal fabrication program,” he said.
The idea for the restaurant came from former Medford Tech director Heidi Riccio. Medford High has had a small area associated with the Medford Tech culinary arts program for many years.
When in full operation, the restaurant can be leased for corporate or community events. To that end, a large conference room was also built, as part of the restaurant area, to add to the degree of uses for the new facility.
Construction began on the new restaurant in March and has continued in earnest for the past eight months.
The design and construction of the restaurant was through a $500,000 state Capital Skills Equipment Grant. Medford allocated $250,000 to the restaurant project and additional grants supporting the project included a $250,000 compliance grant from Americans with Disabilities Act and a $35,000 state regionalization grant for lighting improvements.
The project also received a $25,000 donation from The Lowe’s Heroes organization, which provided volunteers and complimentary paint.
The restaurant project received more support with a $10,000 donation from Stop & Shop to the Medford Tech culinary arts program. The supermarket chain will also pay for lunch for more than 4,000 students in Medford Public Schools on Thursday, Dec. 21, at a cost of more than $12,000.
“This restaurant will serve as a gathering place and become a great asset to this community” Belson said.