Alert, I’m about to rant. It’s about restaurants. I hope you choose to read my thoughts and concerns but you are free to skip ahead to our weekend specials below.
I’m sitting here after another day navigating my way across the tightrope that is owning and operating a restaurant right now. I feel like I’ve been jumping up and down, waving my hands frantically, screaming like a lunatic trying to get everyone’s attention: Your favorite local, independent restaurants are not going to make it. Nope, we’re running out of fuel… by which I mean money.
Chains and corporates will be all that’s left standing very soon. They have the resources to make it through this period of disruption; they are equipped to make adjustments and pivot toward whatever they believe the public wants. Ruby Tuesdays and TGIFridays will be your new “local” restaurants in Central Square and the South End. You want a burrito? Well they have them at Taco Bell. Need your morning cortado fix? Then I hope you like the taste of burnt tar, because the only option will be Starbucks – your favorite little coffee place has no chance.
Three days a week I start my morning on a Zoom call with some of my favorite people, the leadership team of Mass Restaurants United (MRU) – the coalition we formed to help independent restaurants navigate through this crazy time. It’s cathartic and has been an unexpected gift in the middle of so much anxiety and fear. Before we get down to business we always share our stories and nightmares of all the challenges we are facing. There are many, too many to list in full but here’s what we’ve been fretting about:
● Our restaurants are not doing well. Outdoor dining is not saving us, and many don’t even have that option. Indoor dining is not saving us. Powerful interests are often working against us instead of trying to help (check out the liquor lobby trying to stop restaurants from selling to-go cocktails, and my op-ed here). In the halls of the State House, our little MRU coalition is the new kid on the block, desperate to make some new friends but so far only running into the neighborhood bullies.
● The Governor confirmed that Phase 4 will not even be a consideration until there is a vaccine. Ok, fine. We’re all about safety, being measured and cautious and doing what’s right. However, this means the world we are in now is what we’re dealing with for the foreseeable future. Restaurants will need to find a way to survive not just the summer when people are on beaches and not doing as much takeout, but the fall as well. Schools at every level will not be back in the same capacity. Businesses might be back in their offices, but in limited capacities. Restaurants cannot continue to exist in this model without some real, tangible, financial assistance. On the federal level, this means passing the relief bill that is currently stuck in the mud (but could be revived with your help!). Click here to learn about the Restaurants Act of 2020 and how you can help the Independent Restaurant Coalition save local restaurants.
On the state level this means enacting tax relief for landlords and extending the moratorium on evictions.
● Not everyone is wearing a mask – outside the restaurant for sure, but even in our restaurants despite written instructions to follow this protocol. A large number of the public has let their guard down. This is a problem, but there’s more. Some people argue and push back when asked to mask up in our restaurants. They have forced our staff to be guards and disciplinarians (not their job). These never-maskers have instigated some really unpleasant, even downright ugly, situations over something that should be automatic and respected. Come on people – be nice, and wear your damn mask! We fear for the safety of our teams, for others around you and for our families who we see when we go home.
As always, thank you for listening to me vent. I do it because I know that you wouldn’t be on this email list if you didn’t care about independent restaurants.
If you want some more reading, click here to read a Q&A I did with Edible Boston on my work with the MRU and my honest outlook of the restaurant industry.
And on a tastier note, here’s what we’ll be offering this week to keep you all well fed while we fight the good fight.
In solidarity and good health,
Beginning tonight (Thursday)
(and available thru the weekend):
Zucchini and Almond Gazpacho $14
House-Smoked Bluefish Pate $14
4-Chile Chilli Fries $12
Togarashi fries, crema
Rare Yellowfin Tuna Sandwich $22
Iggy’s sesame bun, green chile raita, yellow wax bean salad
Available Friday and Saturday ONLY
(while supplies last) :
Roasted Bone Marrow Bruschetta $18
Iggy’s country toast, grilled tomato compote
House-Made Beef and Pork Kielbasa $24
Black Eyed Peas, almond and cherry relish