The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the local restaurant industry over the past eight months.
At the beginning, restaurants switched to a delivery or take out only model until their dining rooms could reopen. That process was slow going and over the summer the city allowed for outdoor seating before cautiously moving to indoor dining–albeit with limited seating and capacity.
With most restaurants already operating on tight margins, last week’s announcement by Gov. Charlie Baker that restaurants in Eastie and across the state would have to close at 9:30 p.m. was the last straw for restaurateurs like Eric Jeveli.
Jeveli, the longtime owner of Jeveli’s Restaurant in Day Square, told the Boston Globe Monday that he plans to close the restaurant for the winter. The restaurant began its hiatus Tuesday.
It seems Eastie’s oldest Italian Restaurant that opened nearly a century ago in 1924 has become the latest victim of the pandemic and fear many have over indoor dining. Jeveli’s did not provide outdoor seating during the summer months–a move many restaurants did in Eastie to stay above water.
Jeveli told the Globe this week that the newest restrictions will make it nearly impossible to keep his restaurant afloat during the winter.
“We tried. There’s not enough customers to stay open right now,” Jeveli told the Globe Monday. “It’s the whole COVID thing right now. I think everyone’s paranoid to come out.”
Jeveli’s has historically catered to an older crowd during the day and a lively bar scene at the restaurant’s Terminal J Lounge at night.
With senior citizens staying away due to fears of contracting COVID, a disease that is far more deadly to seniors, coupled with the inability to stay open past 9:30 p.m. for the late night bar crowd was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
“Senior citizens — they’re not going out,” he said, adding. “I have a few employees concerned about being so close to people all the time. I feel bad for my employees, most have been here forever. But it’s COVID, COVID, COVID.”
In 1924, Jeveli’s grandfather Pasquale opened Jeveli’s. At the time it only seated about 30 people but the restaurant was a success.
In 1943, after Pasquale passed away, his son Armand took over the restaurant and after his death in 1957 Jeveli’s father Ted became the owner of the family business.
It was under Ted that the restaurant began to expand with the addition of the “The Mediterranean Room” that added 120 seats to the restaurant. In 1982, Ted would build another dining room simply called the “New Room” which would add 75 more seats to Jeveli’s.
In 1987, Ted retired and Eric Jeveli took over day to day management of the restaurant.
Jeveli’s most memorable achievement was when he had the honor and pleasure of personally cooking for President Clinton and over 70 of his staff in 1997.
After the President’s visit, Jeveli transformed the “New Room” into the “Presidential Room.”