2021 Boston’s Restaurant Industry Reconstruction: What Should Happen Next?


As is the annual tradition of Eater, we close 2020 by interviewing local culinary editors (including our own staff and collaborators) on a variety of restaurant-related topics, and we publish their responses in these final days of the year. . (Keep an eye on the Year in Eater archive page for future articles in this series.)

Of course, the survey questions are a little different this year, but we wanted to continue the tradition in order to highlight some of the restaurants that have been there for us during this extraordinarily difficult year as we forecast better times in 2021. .

Readers, do not hesitate to give your opinion by joining our facebook group.

Following: Where do you think the restaurant industry should go next as it rebuilds itself?

MC Slim JB, food critic at Boston.com (currently on pandemic pause):

“A lot depends on the speed of public health and economic recovery, and whether unforgivable government support for restaurants one day materializes, but I think we are facing profound structural changes in the industry. The pandemic survival tactics we’ve seen (take out, delivery, alfresco dining, grocery sales, etc.) clearly can’t support most restaurants on their own, but I would expect to increased importance for these offers. The dramatic inclination of businesses towards remote working, where many employees can only come to town to work in an office a day or two a week, means that far fewer downtown restaurants can be expected to survive. on lunch, catering, business functions and after-work income. If the MBTA becomes a shell of itself (a serious risk in my opinion), restaurants will have a hard time finding staff who can afford to come to town. I expect this to further decimate the restaurants clustered in the heart of the city, but perhaps increase the viability of restaurants in neighborhoods with less punitive housing costs that can hold back workers who live nearby.

MC encourages readers to consider making a donation to Community services, Greater Boston Food Bank, Greater Boston Self-Help Restaurant Worker, and community refrigerator programs in your neighborhood.

Erin kuschner, culinary writer for Boston.com:

“To successfully rebuild itself, the restaurant industry needs federal help (like yesterday). Without it, what lies beyond the pandemic looks bleak, even as more and more people are being vaccinated.

What does not need federal help is rebuilding the culture of the restaurant industry. We have seen many restaurants this year speak out in favor of Black Lives Matter after the murder of George Floyd; we also saw a lot of restaurant workers denounce their employers, sharing their own experiences of discrimination in the workplace. As restaurants strive to rebuild financially after the pandemic, I hope they will also work to rebuild themselves as a more inclusive and fair industry. “

Erin encourages readers to consider donating to Boston Black Hospitality Coalition and Restore Us Project.

Marc Hurwitz, founder of Boston’s hidden restaurants and Boston restaurant discussion, culinary writer for Dig Boston and NBC Boston/NECN:

“I think restaurants in general need to at least partially focus on takeout / delivery because people will continue to work from home long after the pandemic has subsided. And it joins what I had mentioned earlier about ghost kitchens, where real restaurants have to compete with kitchens that only deliver.

Marc encourages readers to consider making a donation to Arlington eats and Haley House.

Joel Ang, editor for Enthusiasm:

“Restaurants need to reconsider how they want to treat those who work for them. they were already underpaid and without benefits – will this change or will “essential workers” be even more ignored in times of economic crisis? “

Joel encourages readers to consider donating to Boston’s Chinatown Neighborhood Center.

JQ Louise, lifestyle blogger behind JQLouise.com and culinary editor at DIG Boston:

“I think the restaurant industry has to get hyper local to survive. I see the return of the “neighborhood spot” coming next year. As people gain confidence in going out again, they will look for trusted places to dine out, and most likely they will stay close to home. “

JQ encourages readers to consider donating to Restore Us Project.

Eric Twardzik, freelance writer and contributor to the food goal, Boston.com, DIG Boston, and Resy:

“Before this issue is addressed, we need targeted relief for the restaurant industry, so there is something left to rebuild. And after that, a lot of the bureaucratic red tape and licensing and licensing fees that keep restaurants low in good times should be revisited (hello, the artificial scarcity created by liquor license caps!) ”

Eric encourages readers to consider donating to the Greg Hill Foundation and Greater Boston Food Bank.

Samer Khudairi, contributor to Boston Eater, Dig Boston, and more:

“More sustainable practices. Individual service vessels are great for take out, but climate change is just as real as COVID. These single-use plastics and other disposables are vital for restaurants, but are there better ways to reduce, reuse, or recycle them? “

Samer encourages readers to consider donating to MassUndocuFonds.

Rachel Lea Blumenthal, editor of Boston Eater:

“In some ways, the industry has a unique opportunity to rebuild itself from the ground up over the coming year. 2021 will undoubtedly be incredibly difficult, but there may be an opening to root out the abuses that prevail in far too many kitchens, to pay more attention to workforce issues in the industry, to equalize the rules of the game between small independent operators and large companies. As a person watching from the edge, I’m drawn to the ‘burn it all and start fresh’ mentality that I hear from some. I know, of course, that this is too simplistic and much easier said than done, especially by someone who is not in the thick of it, but I can’t wait to see if the industry who comes out on the other side of it all may be fairer, more positive than the one left behind.

Rachel encourages readers to consider donating to Project bread and one community refrigerator in your neighborhood.

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