‘From Paris to Prospect’: Westfield’s trendy bistro

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‘From Paris to Prospect’: Westfield’s trendy bistro

Photo by photo by Viggo Jabon

Photo by photo by Viggo Jabon

Photo by photo by Viggo Jabon

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The room buzzes with energy. A band sets up speakers and tunes guitars, preparing for the evening’s performance. Chatter echoes across the bar as Westfield parents catch up with each other, taking the evening off from their busy lives to relax with friends. In the back room, servers dart between tables as they take orders. Cheers resonate throughout the dining hall as a family finishes singing “Happy Birthday.”

This is 16 Prospect, an essential drinking and dining establishment for Westfield residents. The vibrancy of this popular restaurant and bar can be matched only by Timothy Boyle, who owns it with his brother Christopher Boyle. As part of the Hale Speaker Series, a group that hosts local orators, Timothy Boyle, an ‘84 WHS alumnus, spoke at the Westfield Memorial Library on May 8 about owning a restaurant in Westfield.

Working in restaurants since he was 12 years old, Boyle knew early on that he wanted to own a restaurant one day. “It was the fact that you weren’t sitting down; you were constantly moving, constantly doing something,” said Boyle. “I just loved every minute of it.”

In fact, Boyle loved cooking so much that he decided to attend the renowned Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris. He was hesitant about leaving home at first, but he ended up attending thanks to his father, who encouraged his son to see the world like he did while fighting during World War II.

Despite his initial challenges with the language barrier, Boyle credits his time in Paris as having greatly strengthened his culinary skills, style, and menu. “French cooking is sort of the base for any kind of European Western cooking,” said Boyle.

Yet, despite everything he learned in Paris, Boyle still credits his family as his greatest influence. His mother was an avid cook throughout Boyle’s childhood and inspired his love for food. “She was excellent: excellent food and a tremendous variety of stuff,” said Boyle. “She was fascinated with Asian cooking, Italian cooking, and French cooking. She just loved all of it.”

Despite growing up in Westfield, the Boyle brothers did not originally imagine their hometown as the place for their business. In fact, it was “almost an accident,” according to Boyle. They had been looking at a number of locations around New Jersey when the owners of Northside Trattoria, where Boyle had worked, offered to sell to the brothers. They decided to pursue the deal, fulfilling their lifelong dream of owning a restaurant.

They originally kept the name Northside Trattoria but renovated to add a bar after obtaining a liquor license. “We got halfway through renovating, and it just wasn’t the same,” said Boyle. “We decided to make a clean break and then it kind of felt like ours. We weren’t using somebody else’s idea, somebody else’s name.” Thus, Northside Trattoria became 16 Prospect, named after the restaurant’s address.

With ample competition, owning a restaurant in Westfield isn’t easy, and Boyle credits much of his success to his staff. Before 16 Prospect, he worked in “Gordon Ramsay-like” kitchens with a lot of yelling at and berating of the staff. “We did not want a restaurant like that,” said Boyle. “You really should have respect for people that work with you. They’re not really working for me; they’re working with me.”

For Boyle, one of the best things about owning the restaurant is the opportunity to engage with the Westfield community. “It’s a great, mixed clientele,” said Boyle. “You have people of all political beliefs; you have people of all religious beliefs; you have people of every walk of life.”

The restaurant industry has its ups and downs, but Boyle wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. His advice to anyone who has an interest: “Spend some serious time in a restaurant and really get to know it. If that’s what you want to do, go for it.”