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Plastic palm tree cup full of a pink frozen cocktail sits on a table in front of a colorful floral arrangement
Citrus & Salt got creative with its to-go glassware once the state began allowing takeout cocktails during the pandemic
Citrus & Salt [Official Photo]

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The Best Boston Restaurant Industry ‘Pivots’ of 2020: To-Go Cocktails, Takeout Optimization, and More

Local food writers discuss the creative moves that they’re hoping to see continue into the new year

As is Eater’s annual tradition, we’re closing out 2020 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. (Keep an eye on the Year in Eater archive page for subsequent posts in this series.)

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

Readers, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts by joining our Facebook group.

Up next: What “pivots” or creative ideas have you seen emerge in 2020 that you hope continue into 2021?


MC Slim JB, restaurant critic at Boston.com (currently on pandemic hiatus):

“I hope we can find alternatives to gig-economy delivery services like DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats that are such a brutal drain on restaurant profits. Every restaurant would benefit from access to some of the new food-delivery startups with more equitable revenue sharing (like Seated, Chowbus and Slice). Delivery will become more important to restaurants’ survival, but it’s hard to make money on it when your online platform takes 20-30% off the top.

I’m also grateful that many younger diners want to patronize businesses that reflect their own social and ethical values and will shun those that don’t. This is how Dave Andelman of the Phantom Gourmet finally got a public reckoning for his longtime bigoted speech in public — dating back to his days on radio and finally coming to a head with his ugly comments on Facebook this past summer about Black Lives Matter — and was forced to step down as CEO. I hope and expect the cost to a business of being led by a racist, sexist, or other kind of hateful asshole is going to keep rising.”

MC encourages readers to consider donating to Community Servings, the Greater Boston Food Bank, Restaurant Worker Mutual Aid of Greater Boston, and community fridge programs in your neighborhood.


Erin Kuschner, food writer for Boston.com:

“Pop-ups, to-go cocktails, patio dining taking over sidewalks, virtual cooking classes — let’s keep it all, at least for now. The restaurant community is a wildly creative one, and I feel like they tried pretty much everything this year.”

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


Marc Hurwitz, founder of Boston’s Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk, food writer for Dig Boston and NBC Boston/NECN:

“Adding reasonably priced items to the menu, even in the case of upscale/high-end spots. This pandemic has hit people hard financially and I think it’s great to be able to go to an elegant restaurant and be able to get a sandwich, burrito, or mac and cheese.”

Marc encourages readers to consider donating to Arlington Eats and Haley House.


Joel Ang, staff writer for The Infatuation:

“There’s no justification for why it has taken too long for to-go cocktails to be legal in Boston. And along similar lines, the archaic system of limited liquor licenses for restaurants has to change.”

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


J.Q. Louise, lifestyle blogger behind JQLouise.com and food editor at DIG Boston:

“Hanover Street should have patios every year! The North End was such a joy, truly felt like Europe this past summer. I hope the city will allow this every year.”

J.Q. encourages readers to consider donating to Project Restore Us.


Eric Twardzik, freelance writer and contributor to the Food Lens, Boston.com, DIG Boston, and Resy:

“The expansion of outdoor dining brought a joyful vibrancy to every neighborhood it touched. Suddenly, Boston was looking a lot more like all those postcard European cities we’re compared to. We’ve got the great architecture: Let us have the same outdoor-dining culture. Luckily, it seems that the city has already renewed the measure for spring 2021.”

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


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

“Looser alcohol restrictions. I have taken full advantage of to-go cocktails and draft beer sales, and it is good to see these antiquated laws finally getting scrutinized.”

Samer encourages readers to consider donating to MassUndocuFund.


Nathan Tavares, freelance writer and culture writer for WBUR:

“I loved the idea of pivoting to pop-ups during 2020, from takeout-only ventures to chefs testing out new menus with collaborations at restaurants.”

Nathan encourages readers to consider donating to Restaurant Worker Mutual Aid of Greater Boston and your local community fridges.


Rachel Leah Blumenthal, editor of Eater Boston:

“More practical than creative, but I do hope that restaurants that have worked so hard to optimize their takeout and delivery systems will continue to offer those in the future, even when indoor dining is allowed again without restrictions. Coming into 2021 with a new baby, I know my dining habits will be changing drastically, and if I could occasionally treat myself to fine-dining takeout like I’ve been able to in 2020, that’s pretty cool since I probably won’t be seeing the inside of a restaurant anytime soon!

Likewise, I’ve been weirded out but impressed by some really old-school spots that never had an internet presence suddenly coming alive on Instagram or at least building basic websites (like P&K Deli in Somerville). It’s a little bit bittersweet — end of an era and such — but it’s probably good for business and makes life easier for customers, too.

Additionally, I love that a lot of restaurants have worked to diversify their offerings by selling more than just ready-to-eat food: From meal kits to extensive merch collections to pantry items to groceries, I’d love to see all that continue into the future.”

Rachel encourages readers to consider donating to Project Bread and a community fridge in your neighborhood.

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