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Industry Vets Discuss How Boston's Restaurant Industry Has Changed Over the Years

For Classics Week 2015, we asked longtime Boston restaurant industry veterans some survey questions about the changing industry. We'll share their answers throughout the week.

Hamersley's Bistro
Hamersley's Bistro
Cal Bingham for Eater

How have you seen the Boston restaurant industry change over the course of your career?

Marjorie Druker

Marjorie Druker, chef/owner of The New England Soup Factory & Modern Rotisserie:

"The industry has changed in many different ways. I am thankful that I attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island. I received a wonderful foundation that has carried me through the past 33 years in the food business. People eat differently, drink differently, and service and food reviews are internet-driven by customers who choose to review either positively or negatively. It’s truly heart-breaking when you receive a bad review and you feel as though you pour your heart and your soul into your business every day."

Photo: Provided

Peter DavisPeter Davis, chef at Henrietta’s Table:

"Tremendous growth and improvement in variety and offerings."

Photo: Provided

Paul Maslow

Paul Maslow, owner of Strip-T’s:

"I started so long ago that almost everything has changed!
1) When I started in 1973, I worked mostly with Europeans, not many Americans.
2) You used to have to look for jobs in the domestic help section of the newspaper. Chefs and cooks did not have much standing out there in the world.
3) No young people seem to want to work anymore, and they did back then. That's a big thing. It's so hard to find employees, it's making this industry impossible.
4) Now there are so many ethnic cuisines from around the world. Back then it was mostly American/continental food.
5) Chefs were great cooks back then, but chefs today have so much knowledge that they're involved in every aspect of the restaurant. Back then, they wouldn't have anything to do with the bar or front of the house.
6) Going out to eat wasn't the entertainment factor it is now. Back then, people would go out to eat dinner, and then go to the movie or theater. Going to a restaurant now is what people do for the whole evening.
7) Customers know so much more about food.
8) People back then actually canceled their reservations if they couldn't make it — or, even, their job interview.
9) And, of course, there was no Yelp!"

Photo: Rex Dean

Steve DiFillippo

Steve DiFillippo, owner of Davio’s:

"I have seen a lot of the young chefs come up with their own restaurants in Faneuil Hall, the Waterfront, Back Bay, South End, Somerville, Cambridge...very spread out. It’s amazing how many communities have great restaurants now!"

Photo: Provided

Jody Adams

Jody Adams, chef/owner of Rialto and Trade:

"It’s getting better and more varied every year."

Photo: Official Site

Matthew Gaudet

Matthew Gaudet, chef/owner of West Bridge:

"That late ‘90s era in Boston before I moved to NYC — when Radius, Mistral, No. 9 ParkAquitaine, and Clio all opened right around the same time — signified a nouvelle movement of food in Boston. Before that, you had mainstays like Hamersley’s Bistro and L'Espalier. All those places opening within two or three years of one another are, for the most part, all still standing. That is big influential group that has had significant impact on today's dining climate."

Photo: Chris Coe for Eater

Ana Sortun

Ana Sortun, chef/owner of Oleana, Sofra, and Sarma:

"Chefs and line cooks finding the time to run food through the dining room still impresses me! And there is a lot more risk and creativity in menus now."

Photo: Official Site

The Diamantopoulos Brothers

Kosta and Johnny Diamantopoulos, owners of All Star Sandwich Bar and All Star Pizza Bar:

Kosta: "First and foremost, I think the food has gotten extremely, extremely awesome."
Johnny: "More personal. I think there’s a food revolution right now. Everybody wants to cook, wants to be around food. Food Network is one of the most popular channels. Chefs are the new celebrities. It’s fun, too. It’s a good environment to be in."
Kosta: "I also think that food and dining has become the predominant form of entertainment in the city. Restaurateurs are not necessarily competing with other restaurateurs; you’re also competing with the movies, you’re also competing with entertainment — bands, shows, things like that. So in order to be a stronghold in your community as a restaurant, I think you have to include elements of entertainment and what you offer."

Photo: Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

Sean Newell

Sean Newell, general manager of M.J. O’Connor’s:

"Yes, Boston was never a hot spot for culinary spots. So many great chefs and restaurants now. Great to have options."

Photo: Provided

Richard Gordon

Richard Gordon, owner of South End Buttery:

"I think it’s become more about good food and locally sourced ingredients as opposed to the technique or methodology behind food preparation."

Photo: Provided