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Boston Restaurant Industry Headline Predictions for 2021: Ghost Kitchens, the End of To-Go Cocktails, and More

Local food writers ponder the year to come

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 are your headline predictions for the local restaurant industry in 2021?

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

“My intimations are all fear-driven: ‘60% of pre-pandemic restaurants will never reopen’; ‘MBTA cuts make life impossible for industry workers’; ‘Anti-vaxxers slow down the Covid recovery’; ‘A gridlocked Congress stymies desperately-needed industry relief’; ‘Residential flight to the suburbs reduces viability of urban restaurants’; ‘Demand for professional restaurant reviews goes from slim to none’; etc. That could merely be the cabin-fever-induced low-grade depression talking. With any luck, this Eeyore will be wrong on all counts.”

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.

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

“I don’t want this to be a headline, but here goes: ‘Ghost Kitchens Emerge from the Ruins of the Boston-Area Restaurant Industry.’”

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

Joel Ang, staff writer for The Infatuation:

“To-Go Cocktails Will Never Happen Again in Boston. Restaurants Reopen in 2021, Ignoring Everything That Happened in 2020. Guy Fieri Opens Fifth Restaurant in Seaport.”

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

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

“Unfortunately, more restaurant closings, but on the flip side, some new creative concepts rising from the ashes of the destruction from this year.”

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

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

“Last Independent Restaurant Put Under Glass, Preserved for Study by Future Generations”

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:

“Sadly, more closures. From breweries to bakeries, the food and beverage industry is going to continue to take more losses. The resiliency of the industry is important to note — and the resiliency of the staff that continue to pivot to survive.”

Samer encourages readers to consider donating to MassUndocuFund.

Nathan Tavares, freelance writer and culture writer for WBUR:

“‘Local restaurant reopens and offers healthcare to all its staff.’ Fingers crossed!”

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:

“I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of sad headlines in the early months of the year, but here’s hoping the second half of 2021 brings more uplifting headlines of an industry being rebuilt — fingers crossed for headlines of local and federal relief coming through for restaurants and workers, ‘hibernating’ restaurants reopening, and independent businesses ultimately surviving. Is it asking too much to hope for some positive headlines about liquor license reform, too?”

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

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