Family-friendly dining with Catalyst’s William Kovel – The Boston Globe

Cambridge Ma 03/19/2015 Catalyst Burger with cheddar,bacon,carmelized onions.Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs Topic: Reporter

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

A Catalyst Burger.

“We’ve got a full plate right now,” says William Kovel, owner of Catalyst Restaurant. His wife, Sara, is due to give birth to twins. “ I really think it’s any day now,” says the Cambridge chef, adding, “she’s been doing a great job.” Among many jobs: Sara is director of private events at Catalyst, and mom to their daughter Grace, 2½.

Kovel remembers using the restaurant’s carpet blower as a white-noise machine for Grace, so she could nap in the private event space while he and Sara worked. The combination of new restaurant and newborn “is not something I can recommend to other people; there was a little bit of stress,” says Kovel, laughing.

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But the experience of becoming a parent changed the way Kovel looks at hospitality. “It’s funny because now Sara and I go out to dinner, and we are all about the speed of service.” Kovel says they do their best to accommodate diners, especially during brunch and early in the evening, when Catalyst sees a lot of young families. The staff is armed with high chairs and hamburgers, and makes sure food hits the table fast, so parents can enjoy quality time, maybe even some adult conversation, while the little ones eat.

Kovel speaks from experience. “Grace has an attention span of maybe a half an hour, and then she gets bored of it, and she wants to run all over the restaurant. We are that family! I’m like, we gotta get out of here . . . gotta get the check.”

His perspective as a chef has changed. “I’ve been at the restaurant for 3½ years and I love closing, I love working with the guys, and being there,” he says. His priorities have shifted. “It’s not forever, but right now I have to make sure everything is set for Sara, Grace, and the twins.” Like any business owner, Kovel says, “I think the hardest thing for me is giving up control.”

In preparing for the twins’ arrival, Kovel has had to make more changes, rearranging his schedule to help with dinner, baths, and bedtime. “Just like every other American dad,” he says. And when the twins make their debut, things will really be topsy turvy. “Well, we’re not going to sleep,” says Kovel. “We are excited. I’m terrified. We will have three kids under 3.” 300 Technology Square, Cambridge, 617-576-3000,