Paul O'Connell on Rumors About Chez Henri, Hummus Wraps for High Schoolers

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A neighborhood institution. Photo: Chez Henri

"This is not a done deal," insists Paul O'Connell, who's been in the news lately amid reports that he's sold his Cambridge restaurant, Chez Henri, to Green Street's Dylan Black. O'Connell tells Grub Street that he's still very much involved with the restaurant and would (someday) like to sell it to Black or bring him on as a partner. There's also some speculation that Green Street chef Greg Reeves would take over the kitchen at Chez Henri. However, O'Connell is forceful when he says that nothing has been confirmed. Still, he's looking to the future, which may or may not involve tofu.

"I have a lot of ideas," he says. "I would open another place, smaller, either here or Los Angeles. I like it there a lot." He's also interested in turning around our local school lunch programs (his daughter is in high school). "The programs are really horrible," he says. "I'm not going to be like Jamie Oliver. I'm not going to West Virginia to feed anyone tofu. But, hey, how about a wrap with hummus and marinated cucumbers and feta cheese?"

In the meantime, though, he's still invested in Chez Henri and will turn it over only when the time is right. "I'm turning 50," says O'Connell. "I'm pushing 20 years there. The restaurant has been around in various incarnations since 1958, and I feel a responsibility to the neighborhood that it stays independently run," he says.

And if it does change hands, O'Connell says it won't change too much. "I want it to stay true to fine dining, accessible fine dining. Not over the top, but also trying to do our best for the neighborhood."