Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Governor Baker Notes Behavior at St. Patrick's Day Restaurant Celebrations When Discussing Shutdown

During Governor Charlie Baker's press conference today, he talked about the initial shutdown of Massachusetts restaurants and bars other than takeout/delivery, and what apparently led to the ruling will likely not come as a surprise to many.

During the question-and-answer part of the press conference this afternoon, Baker mentioned that the issuing of the restaurant restrictions came on the heels of the observed behavior of people going to Boston-area dining and drinking spots for St. Patrick's Day celebrations on the weekend before the actual holiday. Governor Baker indicated that it was obvious a number of people were ignoring the guidance that had been put out at the time including social distancing, as on the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day, various local restaurants and bars had long lines outside and large crowds inside.

As noted in an earlier article, Baker extended the restaurant shutdown to May 4 this afternoon, with takeout and delivery continuing to be options.

by Marc Hurwitz (Also follow us on Twitter at @hiddenboston)


[A related post from our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants): List of Restaurant Closings and Openings in the Boston Area]

Governor Baker Extends Restaurant Restrictions Order to May 4

An earlier order issued by Governor Charlie Baker that banned on-site consumption in Massachusetts restaurants and bars has been extended, while more restrictions have been extended as well.

Based on information from today's press conference, Governor Baker has changed the end date of the restaurant restrictions from April 6 to May 4, and he has also extended both the stay-at-home advisory and the closure of non-essential businesses until May 4. The ruling that only allows restaurants and bars in Massachusetts to offer takeout/delivery began on March 17; all other New England states have similar rulings in place as well, though with differing end dates.

[Earlier Article]
Massachusetts Restaurants and Bars Are Now Limited to Takeout and Delivery Only

by Marc Hurwitz (Also follow us on Twitter at @hiddenboston)


[A related post from our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants): List of Restaurant Closings and Openings in the Boston Area]

Some More Boston-Area Restaurants End Takeout/Delivery While Others Decide to Give It a Try

photo of Royal India Bistro, Lexington, MA.
We are now approaching the two-week period of the shutdown in which all Massachusetts restaurants can only allow takeout/delivery options due to the coronavirus outbreak, and early last week, we mentioned that some restaurants in the Boston area that had been offering takeout and/or delivery decided to shut it down, while others that initially decided against takeout/delivery ended up doing it after all. Both of these trends seem to be continuing this week.

According to multiple sources, at least a handful of dining spots including Royal India Bistro in Lexington and locations of Halfway Cafe in Dedham, Marlborough, and Watertown have stopped their takeout/delivery options, effectively shutting their restaurants down for the time being, while Rox Diner in West Roxbury plans to reopen, offering takeout and curbside pickup starting tomorrow. A Facebook post from Royal India Bistro says that "Based on all we know about federal, state, and city-wide mandates, CDC guidelines and science strongly suggesting minimizing non-essential social contact, we have made the hard decision to temporarily close our restaurants for two weeks. Starting Tuesday March 31" while an article from Universal Hub mentions that Halfway Cafe has shuttered because "our people's well-being and safety is our most relevant concern." Meanwhile, Rox Diner mentions in a Facebook post that they had "paused our service because we weren't comfortable changing our business model on the fly in the middle of a global crisis. Since then, we researched, sanitized, strategized and we are now confident that we have taken every available precaution to protect your health and ours."

Other restaurants in the region are making similar decisions on both ends as well, so keep checking back for updates as they come in.

by Marc Hurwitz (Also follow us on Twitter at @hiddenboston)


[A related post from our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants): List of Restaurant Closings and Openings in the Boston Area]

Several Wholesale Distributors Now Offering Food to the Public in the Greater Boston Area

It is no secret that the coronavirus has affected how Boston-area residents get their food, but now there is another option for people in the region, and it comes from what would have been seen as an unlikely source before this crisis began.

According to an article from boston.com, some wholesalers are now offering products to the general public in the local area, with the distributors offering food items via delivery service. A few names mentioned as doing this include New York-based Baldor Specialty Foods, J.W. Lopes in Chelsea, Wulf's Fish in Boston's Seaport District, T.F. Kinnealey & Co in Brockton, and Tyler Akabane, who sells mushrooms to Boston-area dining spots. The post mentions that one benefit of ordering from wholesalers is that it can help farms who supply the companies and that have found themselves struggling due to the dropoff in restaurant business that stems from the coronavirus outbreak.

As boston.com says, ordering from distributors can be seen as potential alternative to shopping at grocery stores, though options from a given wholesaler are generally more specialized and limited than that of a supermarket (Baldor does offer a wide variety of food items, however).

by Marc Hurwitz (Also follow us on Twitter at @hiddenboston)


[A related post from our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants): List of Restaurant Closings and Openings in the Boston Area]

How Do We Know Which Restaurants Have Temporarily Closed and Which Have Permanently Closed? Answer: We Don't

photo of closed sign
Over the weekend, a note came to us from someone who was concerned that a Cambridge restaurant may have closed for good and was wondering if we knew whether this was true. We had no answer for them because there was absolutely no news or updates about the dining spot, and it brought up an interesting and rather worrisome question: Which restaurants in the Boston area (and elsewhere) have decided to call it a day? In most cases, the answer is that there is no answer, at least for the time being.

When Governor Baker's order on restaurant restrictions became official two weeks ago, a number of dining spots decided to give it a go with takeout and/or delivery options--which are the only options until the ruling is lifted--while others simply shut down, and some of the restaurants that initially set up takeout/delivery service subsequently gave up on it and closed their doors as well. As a result, there are a lot of dining and drinking spots in and around Boston that are locked up and dark, and while many continue to stay in touch with folks via social media, many others are unnervingly silent.

As of now, the last day of the restaurant restriction order is April 6, but few believe that this date will hold, especially since the White House extended the federal social distancing guidelines to April 30 over the weekend, which will surely put restaurant owners and workers on pins and needles with each of Governor Baker's press conferences this week. If the order is extended further into the month or even beyond, that only puts more pressure on the people behind local dining spots, some of which have already said that the future of their businesses are already in question.

As to the original question of which restaurants will reopen and which won't once things start to get better, the answer might just be a scarily simple one; if you see the lights on and movement inside, that's a good sign, and if you don't, well, there might not be reason to worry right away, but if those lights stay off for an extended period of time, you might unfortunately have your answer.

by Marc Hurwitz (Also follow us on Twitter at @hiddenboston)


[A related post from our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants): List of Restaurant Closings and Openings in the Boston Area]

Monday, March 30, 2020

Shanti Has Temporarily Closed All Three Restaurants Because Vendors Have "Stopped Deliveries"

A worrisome scenario that has been talked about over the past couple of weeks has become reality for a trio of Boston-area restaurants, forcing them to close for the time being.

According to a post from Universal Hub, Shanti has temporarily shut down its locations in Dorchester, Roslindale, and Cambridge, with the owners saying that "Due to the present situation our vendors who supply our Indian ingredients from New York and New Jersey have stopped deliveries." The outbreak of the coronavirus over the past few weeks has brought about much chatter about potential nightmare situations for restaurants, including wholesaler/vendor issues like the ones that Shanti appears to be having.

New York and New Jersey are currently being hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, with the CDC issuing a travel advisory over the weekend for those states along with Connecticut.

The website for Shanti can be found at https://www.shantiboston.com/

by Marc Hurwitz (Also follow us on Twitter at @hiddenboston)


[A related post from our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants): List of Restaurant Closings and Openings in the Boston Area]