As the Mayor’s Office released new guidelines for bars and restaurants during the COVID-19 outbreak East Boston businesses have been forced to either close or move to a take out/delivery operation.
Effective Tuesday, no restaurant with or without an alcoholic beverages license, bar, club, private club, social club, or entertainment venue may at any time allow more than 25 individuals in the licensed premise including staff.
The Walsh Administration in conjunction with the City of Boston’s Licensing Board outlined the new rules this week, and no establishment may serve food or alcoholic beverages for on premise consumption. This effectively means a complete prohibition on the service of alcohol with the exception of retail package stores. Establishments may only serve patrons food via take-out and delivery. Any restriction or regulation prohibiting take-out is temporarily lifted. Establishments must remove or rope off all seating in the licensed premise. Establishments must abide by the CDC’s social distancing policies.
. Establishments offering take-out and delivery may stay open until the closing hour currently listed on their license.
Eastie businesses staples like Little Asia, Carlo’s Catering and newer establishments like the Quiet Few decided to close as the COVID-19 pandemic gained steam across the city, state and nation.
“To our loyal customers and friends, we have made the tough decision due to the recent news to close the restaurant starting on Tuesday, [March17], until further notice,” said the owners of Little Asia in a statement. “Needless to say this is hard on all of us right now, but we are thinking of the health and safety of you, our customers, and our staff at this time. Be safe and take care of yourselves. When we come out on the other end of this crazy time in the world, there will be a strong Mai Tai waiting for you.
Steve Scire, owner of Carlo’s Catering, said Carlo’s will be closed for the week to do its part in keeping its staff and customers well.
“This was a very hard decision,” said Scire. “We will reevaluate after this week.”
This could mean Carlo’s could switch to a take out/delivery option as more information becomes available.
Over at the Quiet Few, a relatively new bar/restaurant on Sumner Street that opened with great fanfare, owner Josh Weinstein had made the equally difficult decision to close.
“It is with a heavy heart that in the midst of all that’s going on we have decided to close our doors for the time being,” said Weinstein. “While we always wanted to offer an open door, cold beverage, a hot comforting meal and a warm smile we feel we’re at the point that everyone’s safety takes precedence. We hape this lends a small hand towards the end of this all, and that we get the chance to welcome you back to the Quiet Few sooner rather than later.”
However, other Eastie mainstays like Spinelli’s, Santarpio’s, Kelley Square Pub, Angela’s Cafe, Italian Express, the Cunard Tavern have switched to a takeout/delivery only operation.
“OK, folks, here is the story with Kelley Square Pub in East Boston. Starting Tuesday we will be open for takeout and delivery only,” said Kelley Square Pub owner John Masterangelo. “We will also be open day and night and if you decide you want to pick up but not come into the restaurant, we will bring the food out to your car. As always you can count on Kelley Square Pub and we have a great staff.”
“So, we’ve gone from being on the Food Network on Friday night to this being our last day open for dining inside the restaurant for a while,” said Italian Express owners Jim Iannuzzi and Jonathan Harker in statement. “Starting on Tuesday, we will be open for take-out and delivery only until the dine-in ban has been lifted. We offer our own delivery service to East Boston customers, that is directly from the restaurant. Also, we are currently partnered with UberEats and will soon be active with DoorDash and GrubHub to extend our delivery service to surrounding areas.”
The owners said they will continue to maintain strict sanitary practices and follow advice from lawmakers and the CDC.
“Please bear with us as we figure out how to best deal with these constantly changing circumstances,” they said. “We strongly value the health and safety of our employees, customers, friends and families.”
Over at Rino’s, Chef Tony Dicenso and his wife, Anna, said they have decided to shift to take out and delivery service. “Starting on Tuesday, March 17, we will be open from 3 to 9 p.m., and we will run this delivery service on a week-to-week basis,” said Anna Dicesnso. “We will deliver to our neighboring towns of Chelsea, Revere, Winthrop, Saugus and, of course, East Boston. If we feel it is not working, we will stop and ride it out with all of you. Our regular dinner menu will be available, but at times it could change.”
Spinelli’s Celeste Myers said Spinelli’s will switch to pick up and delivery only, but will continue its operation and contracts that deliver food to over 350 elderly residents in Eastie, Charlestown and the North End. The staff is also making themselves available to emergency response staff that will be on the frontlines combating the pandemic and in need of hot meals.
One way to support local businesses during this hard time was recently posted on social media.
“Fear of the coronavirus is keeping people away from restaurants, [which] usually operate on small margins,” read the post. “So here’s something you can do: go to your favorite restaurant and buy a gift certificate (or get it online if possible). Buy it directly from the restaurant, so they get the use of your money for a month or two. Then when things have settled down, treat your sweetie to an evening out and use your certificate.”
Also, the city is spreading word of the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) that will be made available for small businesses experiencing hardships during this virus outbreak.
The form can be found at www.mass.gov/doc/sba-eidl-worksheet-and-instructions/download?fbclid=IwAR1ZYy0Y6oyA_ilx-Cm0KOxU1Q5S4AMLVuqx90LbVB2eb0P9HoWc6xSZj-o.