Side Dishes: Norm makes way for Smitty in the New North End
New North Enders looking for dinner at Norm’s Grill  got a surprise last week. On March 15, the neighborhood restaurant quietly became Smitty’s Pub . Not so quiet were the fans who took to Twitter to remark on its new “light and crisp” fish ’n’ chips.
New co-owner Ed Smith had been bar manager at Norm’s Grill since it opened in December 2009 under owner Gary Roy. Roy had moved back to his hometown of Burlington to open Norm’s, but continued to run businesses in Nantucket, where his wife and family remained. Nine months ago, Smith asked for first option to purchase the pub should Roy ever sell.
Recently, the distance from his family proved too much for Roy. So Smith took ownership along with his wife, Michelle, formerly of South Burlington’s Rotisserie Restaurant , and his mother, Susan Suitor.
A New North End native, Smith says his first order of business was “to add things people have been asking for.” Tables have been set with flowers and candles in the dining room to separate it aesthetically from the bar, where food is also served.
Many customers requested more vegetarian options; in two weeks’ time, Smitty’s will change its menu to accommodate them. Joining the veggie burger — called the Danica Patrick, after the vegetarian NASCAR champ — diners will soon find veggie pastas and sandwiches. Meat eaters will have expanded options, too. Fettuccine Alfredo with shrimp or chicken; spaghetti and homemade meatballs; and appetizers such as French onion soup and baked-cream-cheese-and-salsa dip will join the pizzas and burgers that currently fill the menu.
Another big change will be the hours at Smitty’s Pub. The eatery used to stop serving food by nine, but Smith says he’ll be dishing it up until 11 p.m. most nights, most likely Tuesday through Saturday. More often than not, he’ll be the one working the bar.
All part of the neighborhood familiarity Smith says he has quickly established. “It’s almost like a ‘Cheers’ atmosphere here, because I know everybody by name and they know me,” he says.