New Kid Jordan Knight Talks Touring, Dining And Why They Continue To Have The Right Stuff

Boy bands have come and gone throughout the years, but one of the largest names in the music industry (and we are proud to say they are from Boston) continues to prove its staying power decades after their initial debut.

New Kids on the Block, featuring brothers Jordan and Jonathan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood and Joey McIntyre, became a near overnight sensation back in the late 80s when their album, Hangin’ Tough, produced hit after hit (we’ll never forget songs like “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)” and “Please Don’t Go Girl”). With a sold-out performance this past summer at Fenway Park and a jam packed cruise each fall that sells out almost as fast as the tickets go on sale, the New Kids aren’t slowing down anytime soon.

We caught up recently with New Kid/restaurant investor, Jordan Knight, who shared with us why he decided to get involved in the restaurant industry, what he thinks is the secret to the band’s success and what’s up next for the New Kids.

Tell us how you went from being a New Kid to getting involved in the restaurant business.

It kind of just fell in my lap. My family and I had been going to Abby Park and eaten there for years. Tony (DeRienzo) had always done a great job with the menu and I had expressed excitement when they told me about Novara, which is a couple of doors down from Abby Park. When they asked me to be an investor, I knew it would work as they were always great operators. Tony’s a great chef and his food is consistent. It really was a no-brainer for me. Even though you always hear horror stories of investing in the restaurant industry, I knew this was something Milton needed.

NovaraPhoto Credit: Novara

The growing restaurant scene in recent years has really put Milton on the culinary map. What do you think it is that makes Novara so special?

The restaurant feels very modern, very now. It’s like something you would see in the city, but it’s Milton. You don’t have to go in town to get that ambiance or experience, and the food is great. It’s becoming a little scene in East Milton Square and I am really proud to be a part of that.

How hands-on are you with the restaurant?

I don’t have to worry about the day-to-day operations. We will go in and test out the food with some friends and family and I give them feedback on the menus, but for the most part, I don’t have to do much. I’m more of an ambassador. Vance Welch operates the place and does a fantastic job. We do a lot of events and parties there. On February 2, we are hosting a charity event, Dancing for Hope to benefit St. Mary’s Women’s Center for Women and Children (in Dorchester). It’s something we do every year and it’s a really fun night of dancing that raises money for the shelter.

Jordan KnightPhoto Credit: Jordan Knight

What are some of your favorite dishes? 

My favorite dishes are a bunch of appetizers. The chicken parm meatballs are awesome. The cauliflower fritters are very tasty and I like the lemon rosemary chicken wings. The truffle fries are also very good and for main dishes, I love the rigatoni.

What do the New Kids order when they visit Novara?

Jon and Joe have visited, but Donnie and Danny have not yet.

What was it like playing to a sold-out crowd at Fenway Park this summer?

It’s always kind of like you feel a little unworthy honestly. Obviously, playing there feels amazing, but in the back of my head, I am always thinking, why do I deserve this?  It has been incredible how we rose to the top and we love how the fans are always behind us rooting for us.

Why do you think New Kids became a near overnight sensation that still continues to have such timeless appeal today?

I think we come from the heart. We have always wanted to entertain people. We want the crowd to know how great they are and we continue to just give, give, give. I think that’s our edge. When we were teens, we practiced in my basement in Dorchester and wanted to find ways we could make the crowd go nuts. We would rehearse again and again until we found that special something.

You have been part of one of the biggest boy bands in history, had a solo career and even have a day (February 7) in Boston named after you. What’s up next for you?

Tito Jackson (Boston City Councilor) did that for me (laughs) and every year the fans remind me of that day, but it was only for the day that year (2015). It’s not a permanent thing.

As for the New Kids, we’ll keep touring, for sure. We’re not going to stop. It’s fun and we are still on a roll, so I don’t see us stopping anytime soon. I like to do solo music as well. We got a spot on “Fuller House” on Netflix one year. I like doing fun stuff like that between tours. We also do a cruise every year with 3,000 fans. We fill the cruise ship up and just have a blast. There is a “Blockheads Ball” (that’s the name of our fans) and we did a Neon Night, a Superhero Night and a GPS Night where you would wear something from the city or country or wherever you are from. I wore a Celtics shirt that night. It has really been an amazing ride.