2012 Preview: 10 Most Anticipated Boston Venues for Events and Meetings

By Kara Baskin, with additional reporting by Jenny Berg December 29, 2011, 12:00 PM EST

Photo: Courtesy of Clements and Howcrof

As we look ahead to the coming year, these are some of the most important new event and meeting venues slated to open, bringing options for everything from cocktail parties and conferences, to business dinners and corporate meetings. Here's a preview of the hotels, restaurants, bars, lounges, and other spaces the event industry will be talking about in 2012.

1. The regal Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum will open a new wing in January, with spaces available for buyout beginning in February 2012. The new venue includes a glassed-in café with a fair-weather landscaped terrace, with seating for 90 and reception space for 115. Theater and meeting configurations are also possible. The terrace seats 60, and can hold receptions for 100. Also included in the new wing is Calderwood Hall, a dramatic round-style theater complete with a retractable screen, visual projection, and theater-quality lighting. This space accommodates meetings of 50, or 300 theater-style. An elegant Drawing Room, once Gardner’s private parlor, will also make its debut. It holds 30. The museum offers an on-site events manager who coordinates with vendors.

2. In April, the Stuart Street Playhouse at the Radisson Hotel Boston will be taken over by adjoining, event-friendly spaces called Space 57 and Theatre1. With 225 seats, Theatre1 will host film screenings and premieres, film festivals, or Q-and-A sessions with actors and directors. The space is also amenable to business presentations and meetings, and each chair has a connected desk and laptop outlet. The adjacent Space 57 offers 7,000 square feet of blank-canvas event space and can hold 1,000 guests. The space will host musical performances, galas, fashion shows, and sit-down dinners for 300 or 400 guests.

3. Moksa, Boston’s first izakaya (a casual Japanese saloon), will open early this year. The 8,500-square-foot space will offer private dining. The Central Square restaurant is helmed by noted New York City chef Patricia Yeo. Yeo’s menu spotlights pan-Asian small plates such as foie gras skewers, stuffed roti, and dumplings. A cocktail list is inspired by Asian ingredients and offers specialties from local brewers and vintners.

4. The Fairmont Copley Plaza, steps from Boston Common, is undergoing a renovation that will wrap up this spring. A lower-lobby level meeting space will include seven wood-paneled breakout rooms, complete with audiovisual capabilities and food display areas. The largest room can accommodate 210. An on-site culinary team can arrange for entertainment, decorations, and customized menus. Signature items include seasonal hot and chilled soups, local seafood, and extensive vegetarian options.

5. Twenty minutes south of Boston and just minutes from Logan International Airport, the Hyatt Place Braintree is scheduled to open in April 2012. Five function rooms, some of which open to a patio, have capacities of 45 each and can combine to host receptions for 175. Additionally, there are a variety of semiprivate areas, including the Great room and a dining room. Wireless Internet is available throughout the hotel. A concierge team can customize catering menus and audiovisual needs, as well as floral arrangements.

6. The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, a historic waterfront destination that honors Boston’s Revolutionary War history, makes its debut in June. The unique space houses several authentically restored Tall Ships, as well as the Robinson tea crate, one of two surviving tea crates from the original Boston Tea Party. The space will be available for buyout, accommodating 150 for seated functions and hosting roaming receptions for 500. The Tavern & Tea Room, serving Colonial-era ales, wines, and classic New England fare, will seat 150 or hold 225 for cocktails. Additionally, the museum’s theater offers a 15-foot screen with seating for 75.

7. Brookline’s elegant Veronique ballroom will reopen as Alden Castle in 2012 after extensive renovations, which include a refurbished ballroom with floor-to-ceiling mirrors and a smaller space decorated with life-size India blue peacocks and Italian chandeliers. The Tudor-style estate, complete with a rose garden, accommodates 350 seated and 450 for a reception. The venue is operated by noted hospitality company Longwood Events, which owns several Boston properties.

8. JM Curley, a regional American bar and restaurant in Downtown Crossing, will debut in early 2012. The space will be available for buyout. A front dining room accommodates 90, while a lounge with couches toward the back holds 22. A 70-inch television hangs above the 14-seat bar, and an air hockey table is available for games. Signature menu items include pork chops and burgers, plus an array of canned and draft beers.

9. Palm at the Westin Copley will serve its last meal on New Year's Eve. The venue will reportedly reopen in the Financial District in the fall with a main dining room, a patio, and a private dining room, but venue reps can't reveal the location yet.

10. Daddy Jones, a restaurant with a 1980s theme, will open this year in Somerville close to Davis Square and Tufts University. The restaurant will focus on small plates and may host movie nights for groups.

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