As is Eater’s annual tradition, we’re closing out 2018 by surveying local food writers (including our own staff and contributors) on various restaurant-related topics, and we’re publishing their responses in these final days of the year. Readers, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comment section below, or hop into our Facebook group to discuss — we’ll post a thread for each survey question.
Keep an eye on the Year in Eater page for other stories in this series.
Up next: What are your headline predictions for 2019? (See the 2017 responses — 2018 predictions — here.)
MC Slim JB, restaurant critic for The Improper Bostonian:
“It appears that we are headed for an economic slowdown, which ought to cool off our overheated restaurant bubble. We should greet that with some ambivalence: Some restaurants will go out of business, but that may bring some relief to the terrible labor shortage that has found many independent restaurateurs struggling to staff their kitchens, dining rooms and bars with experienced talent.
The #MeToo movement will continue to reverberate through the industry, one of the most notoriously, aggressively awful to its female employees; progress there cannot come soon enough, even though it may topple some of our local favorite male chefs and owners.
Our failure to grapple with climate change will again be an issue as additional valued species (especially seafood) either disappear or become painfully costly.
And our national policy of overt hostility to immigrants will continue to harm the industry. To quote the late, great Anthony Bourdain, ‘The bald fact is that the entire restaurant industry in America would close down overnight, would never recover, if current immigration laws were enforced quickly and thoroughly across the board.’
If I could write some of 2019’s headlines myself, they would include the end of Trump’s presidency and the exit of loathsome white-nationalist bigots like Stephen Miller who write his immigration policies. That kind of hate is not just bad for restaurants, it’s un-American, in my book.”
Jacqueline Cain, deputy food editor at Boston magazine:
“More Beloved Local Coffee Shops Close as International Cafe Chains Continue World Domination
Most Everyone You Know Is Vegan Now as Environmental Crises Prompt Unsustainable Spike in Meat Prices
Labor Shortage Threatens to Pop the Craft Beer Bubble”
Erin Kuschner, food writer for Boston.com:
“Boston’s Oldest Dive Bars Are Now All Marijuana Dispensaries”
Eric Twardzik, contributor to The Food Lens, Boston.com, and more:
“Combination Caffè Nero/Honeygrow/Sweetgreen to Open in Last Boston-Area Commercial Space That Is Not Already a Caffè Nero, Honeygrow, or Sweetgreen”
Marc Hurwitz, founder of Boston’s Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk, restaurant critic for Dig Boston, and more:
“The bubble will finally burst in 2019...or 2020...or when I’m old and gray.”
Sam Hiersteiner, contributor to the Boston Globe and more:
“Newly Retired Tom Brady Announces He Will Open a Bio-Dynamic Soil-Focused Fast-Casual Chain Called Loam on the Range in Seaport”
Dana Hatic, associate editor of Eater Boston:
“I think we’ll see a bit more growth in terms of pockets of restaurants operating almost communally (à la Bow Market). Between the new food halls that are on track to open and the mixed-use developments that have shared spaces for vendors (like at 100 Federal St. with Blue Bottle and Aceituna), I think 2019 will have more places where people can go and get several different meals or snacks.”
Terrence B. Doyle, reporter for Eater Boston:
“Fried Chicken Poke Bowl Burrito Bagel”
Rachel Leah Blumenthal, editor of Eater Boston:
“Well, a few of my hoped-for 2018 headlines didn’t come to fruition, so I’ll repeat them: ‘Boston Gets Its First Puppy Cafe. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Finally Follows Its Upstate and Western NY Comrades Into Boston. Sweetgreen, Caffe Nero, and Dig Inn Collectively Decide That Boston Finally Has Enough Locations of All of Them. Not a Single Juice Bar Opened in Boston in 2019. More Local Independent Restaurants Open in 2019, Reversing the Out-of-Town Fast-Casual Trend.’
I’m also expecting 2019 to be the Year of the Food Hall. Which, by the way, is really just marketing speak for ‘food court.’ Eater HQ hasn’t yet placed a ban on ‘food hall’ — there are a lot of other jargon-y industry and marketing terms we’re not supposed to use here — but we’ll see if that changes in the coming year.
And in all seriousness, I do expect to see (and write) an increasing number of headlines dealing with the intersections between food and topics like climate change, politics, and sexual harassment in the coming year.
Stories like those from websites that focus on food coverage often elicit comments along the lines of ‘stick to food’ or ‘I’m just here for the fun food news,’ but anyone who doesn’t see the connection between food and politics, food and climate change, etc. is not paying attention. We don’t plan to shy away from those stories, and I know our colleagues throughout the industry won’t either. Scroll through Instagram if you just want to see some nice food photos: Food news isn’t always attractive.”