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Back Bay Grill Owner Larry Matthews Returns to Trenches After Graham Botto's Departure

"You get soft for a while" when you're not cooking daily, he reveals.

Kyle J. Norris

Larry Matthews has been with Back Bay Grill about 20 years, and for 13 of those he has owned the beloved restaurant. Naturally, not all of those years have been spent in the kitchen; most recently, for example, Graham Botto was in charge of the cooking. "I've gone through different swings where I'm in the kitchen all the time, then staff changes and I'm able to get out more, have more of a normal family life. Then it changes and I go back in, and that's what it is," Matthews explained.

Botto, who recently demonstrated for photographer Kyle J. Norris how to make Back Bay Grill's scarce burger, has moved on to the kitchen at Central Provisions. As such, Matthews has moved back into his own kitchen, where he's once again forcing himself into chef mode. "Right now I'm back in the kitchen, which is great. It's good to get back into it. You get soft for a while. It's always a little bit of an adjustment period, like, 'Okay, I can do this.'"

Along with the physical and mental rigors of running the kitchen again, Matthews is exhilarated by the camaraderie of working directly with his crew. "It's really good to reconnect with the staff on a day to day basis as opposed to walking through and high-fiving. Actually working with them again, it's fun."

Matthews shrugged and admitted this must mean Back Bay Grill is hiring again; in the meantime, stop in to sample the work of the man whose name is synonymous with the fine dining at Back Bay Grill.

Back Bay Grill

65 Portland Street, Portland, ME 04101