With new stay at home advisories, mask mandates, and a 9:30 PM mandatory restaurant closure across the state, restaurants and bars continue to face an uphill battle to remain in business.
The pandemic took its toll early in Wellesley, with Brugguer’s Bagels on Central St. closing temporarily in late March, and then permanently in April. The indoor dining restrictions paired with relatively high unemployment means restaurants are facing much lower demand than ever before.
“A lot of people don’t have the money to be buying takeout or dining in. A lot of people don’t want to dine indoors even if they have the money, and understandably so,” said Ryan DiMaggio, an assistant manager at The Local in Wellesley, an upscale restaurant specializing in American classics and high quality cocktails.
It’s not surprising that given the inhospitable conditions, twenty percent of restaurants in Massachusetts have closed since the pandemic’s start, or 3,600 total establishments. The Massachusetts Restaurant Association estimates that once outdoor dining becomes impossible due to the weather, this toll will rise..
“It stinks. It stinks. A lot of this stinks,” said Governor Charlie Baker regarding the restaurant closures. “But it’s part of what comes with COVID.” Baker ordered the closure of all bars and restaurants past 9:30 PM starting this past week.
That said, Baker has not yet banned indoor dining, something his administration slowly phased back in reopening Phase III. However, many medical officials believe these phases should be rolled back to protect public safety.
“We need to ban indoor dining immediately,” said Dr. Jeremy Faust, an ER Physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. on Twitter, “We need to see some other restrictions as well for a few weeks.”
Despite the seemingly pessimistic outlook, it’s not all doom and gloom.
“The support of the town [of Wellesley] so far has been pretty fantastic.. we see instances of families coming in and ordering huge amounts of takeout, $100, $200+. We also see people come in and try and run up their tabs ordering anything from more drinks, to more desserts, or an extra entree to take home,” said DiMaggio. “We’re extremely fortunate to be in a community that has more or less come together to support us and help us stay in business during these tough times.”
DiMaggio’s statement is echoed by Audrey Turco ’22, who says that her family is trying their best to support Wellesley restaurants.
“We’ve been trying to order more takeout than usual. We know that local restaurants have been struggling so supporting them by ordering takeout and delivery has been something we’re trying to do as a family,” said Turco. “My favorite dish has always been the Sarson Saag with Makki Roti from Singh’s Cafe. It was recommended to me by some friends, and I haven’t gone back to anything else.”
DiMaggio says that due to the support of the community, he is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We are gradually doing better and better every weekend. Obviously, some weeks dip in sales but the general trend is upwards and I like it. Friday and Saturday nights are becoming increasingly busy, we’ve even had long waitlists for people who don’t have reservations, and it’s a good feeling,” said DiMaggio.