Conrad's restaurant in Foxboro/ Credit: Courtesy of Conrad's

The long fallow space at 1257 Highland Ave. that formerly housed Bertucci’s may soon be abuzz with new activity. Bobby Conrad of Conrad’s restaurants signed a lease for the space and hopes to open his fourth casual dining spot across from the high school sometime in the fall. 

Founder and owner of the restaurant chain, Conrad said he’s always loved Needham. “I think I’ve always been drawn to the community feel,” he said. “I’m a huge sports fan. I coached a lot of football on that field many times. It’s a great mix of sports and families.” 

Conrad grew up on the North Shore, but moved to Norwood in the early ’90s. He started as a bar owner, opening Conrad’s sports pub in 1993. Eight years later, he made the switch to casual dining and a family-friendly vibe and has since opened two more restaurants in Foxboro and Walpole. 

His plan for the Needham location is the same as the other three: Good for couples, good for families after sporting events, good for kids — and, of course, lots of TVs to keep a little bit of the sports flair. As in the other restaurants, he plans to have a function room for events such as bridal and baby showers. He will also recruit employees from within the community first. “At all of our restaurants we definitely get the community involved,” Conrad said. “We try to keep it as much local as possible.”

A signature dish, which Conrad brings from his North Shore roots, is marinated steak tips. He said he sells from 4,000 to 5,000 pounds of tips across his three restaurants each week. “Every corner bar had steak tips,” he said. “When I moved out here 30 years ago, they didn’t have a big draw for steak tips.” He said that became his niche. His secret? “We needle them and soak them in marinade for three days before putting them on the grill.” He said his favorites are the pizza and seafood, however. “I am in love with my pizza,” he said. “I could eat the pizza every day.” 

Before residents start lining up, Conrad still needs Zoning Board of Appeals and Select Board approvals for a liquor license. He then has to wait for the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to sign off. After that, there will be a few additional boxes to check before the tips hit the grill. 

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