Opened in Canton in 2008, Saute never seemed to truly know itself. The corner establishment served likeable pub fare in a prime location, but the vibe inside felt stuffy and drab. Was it a sit-down restaurant or a casual bar?
As new bars opened around the city in recent years, owner Dave Carey felt the identity crisis growing more pronounced. So last summer, he shut Saute for seven weeks to undergo nearly $200,000 worth of renovations and a rebranding.
The result — Lee's Pint & Shell, named after Carey's fisherman father — debuted in mid-October, and it's a noticeable improvement on all fronts. The neighborhood has responded as he had hoped, packing out the bar on a consistent basis. I've been a handful of times, including most recently last Saturday, and have not once seen a slow night. My friends who live in the area have said the same.
It is again proof that recognizing a need for change is the easy half of the battle. The hard part comes in the execution, for which Carey and his team deserve a lot of credit. Lee's feels much more casual and like a neighborhood hangout, which Carey said were his goals from the beginning.