By now you know the drill: The Massachusetts restaurant industry is largely shut down by the novel coronavirus pandemic, with dine-in service prohibited statewide until at least April 6. Countless restaurant industry workers are out of jobs (support them here), and restaurants are facing immense financial obstacles, trying to stay afloat while only offering takeout and delivery (or temporarily closing altogether).
Aside from ordering takeout and delivery, there’s another way to support restaurants without even leaving home or coming into contact with anyone: Buy gift cards and merch online.
Here’s some of the best apparel and other goodies that local restaurants, bars, and other food and beverage businesses are selling online, from fancy aprons to soft hoodies.
An artsy Gracie’s Ice Cream t-shirt
It may make a stranger angry!
All Gracie’s Ice Cream merch is awesome and well-designed. The cone umbrella t-shirt (designed by artist Lauren May / Monster Tea Party) would make a particularly good addition to your closet. The sentence “everything little thing must go wrong” is printed across the back; it’s a throwback to the early ’90s, a lyric from “Tour Song” by Jawbreaker. The front, too, relates to Jawbreaker — it’s a spinoff of the band’s version of the Morton Salt girl, says Gracie’s owner Aaron Cohen. “I love merch so much from my days managing a band into making shirts for all the festivals,” he notes.
Once, an Eater staffer was wearing this t-shirt in public, only to be yelled at by a stranger who insisted that the words on the back were bleak and horrible and why would anyone wear that on a shirt? Make a stranger angry and support your local ice cream shop fashionably for $15. The cone umbrella art is also available on the back of a zip-up hoodie with “ice cream weather” printed on the front. $36. The t-shirt can be shipped; the hoodie is generally for in-store pickup, but “if you ask super nicely” Gracie’s might be able to work out shipping for you.
A Backbar Ackbar t-shirt
For Star Wars Day or any day
Union Square cocktail bar Backbar loves Star Wars and always turns Star Wars Day (May 4) into a whole week of celebration. But really, the obsession lasts all year — keep an eye out for Star Wars references throughout the bar’s decor. So it makes perfect sense that Backbar is selling an “Ackbar” t-shirt. Wear it now; wear it in May; wear it year-round. $20.
Backbar also carries pins, hats, gift cards, and raffle tickets (learn more about the raffle) in its online store; all items can be shipped. During the coronavirus-induced closure, 75% of store sales are going directly to the Backbar staff “to support them during this crisis period where they are out of work.”
An ultra-cozy Bagelsaurus hoodie
Seriously, this sweatshirt is the absolute coziest
Since now is the time to hunker down at home as much as possible, why not get cozy in this adorable hoodie from Cambridge bagel shop Bagelsaurus? It features the Bagelsaurus logo, which is obviously a dinosaur with a bagel for a body, and the back says “Cambridge, MA” in light blue lettering.
Email the Bagelsaurus team to place an order, including your sizing info, address, and a phone number where you can be reached in order to go over payment info. The hoodies are $40 each, plus $15 for flat rate shipping via USPS Priority Mail. Unisex sizes from XS to XXL are available, and they run a little small.
- Need another bagel shirt? Of course you do. Medford’s Goldilox Bagels sells tees and onesies ($15) featuring the shop’s bold orange and yellow logo. Fans of the distinctive artwork from Danish brewery Mikkeller may recognize the vibe: Mikkeller art director Keith Shore designed the Goldilox logo. Order online; items can be shipped or dropped off locally.
- CLAMS CLAMS CLAMS. That’s it; that’s the shirt ($16). Dream of summer days up in Maine with this merch from Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery.
- Flour Bakery has quite a bit of merch available; one highlight is the “bakers gonna bake” sweatshirt ($42). Hate hoods and zippers and love to bake? This one’s for you.
- Claim your cannoli loyalty: If you’re team Modern Pastry, try one of these three excellent shirts ($18.50).
- For those who enjoy vaguely sexual punny tees, Harvard Square burger institution Bartley’s has got you covered ($25).
- Kowloon sells lots of fun tiki glassware (and stuffed animals), but why buy a tiki mug when you can buy a “Got pupu?” shirt ($25)?
- Like Kowloon, Shore Leave also has a tiki mug for sale, but more intriguing is this tropical apron ($99), pale pink covered with palm leaves.
- These two aren’t restaurants, but food and drink stores could use support now too. Show your loyalty to the classics: (1) Mayflower Poultry sells shirts, hats, and aprons ($20) emblazoned with its iconic “Live Poultry Fresh Killed” logo; you’ll have to pick up the phone to order this one. (2) There are also a number of different shirts available ($20) featuring some of Sav-Mor Liquors’ best signage.
ACCESSORIES AND OTHER ITEMS
A super cluckin’ tote bag from Cutty’s
Because who knows how long we’ll have to wait for the next Super Cluckin’ Sunday?
When there’s not a global pandemic, Brookline sandwich shop Cutty’s hosts a very popular monthly event: Super Cluckin’ Sunday, featuring two kinds of fried chicken sandwiches. Dates for the next few months are up in the air, given the circumstances, so while you’re waiting for that next fried chicken fix, you can relive the good days with this super cluckin’ tote ($22), designed by Chris E. O’Neill.
A dog collar and leash from Castle Island icon Sullivan’s
For the dog who loves a cheap hot dog and a walk on the waterfront
The late February reopening of Sullivan’s every year is Boston’s official first sign of spring. Now that the restaurant’s 69th season has been interrupted, will spring really arrive this week? Take your dog for a walk — while staying as far away as possible from other humans — and ponder the meaning of hot dogs and spring and fried seafood as your dog sports fashionable Sullivan’s attire ($16.95 for a collar, $19.95 for a leash).
- Night Shift Brewing makes a lot of desirable merch (hello, flannel). The Eater Boston team is especially enamored by the glassware, such as this 20-ounce can-shaped glass featuring a colorful rendering of Night Shift’s owl ($10) and this gorgeous paint-drippy purple mug ($38).
- Get your food pins here: croissants, shakshuka, and Jerusalem bagels ($5) from Boston’s ever-expanding bakery and cafe chain Tatte.
- While waiting for East Boston Oysters’ snazzy pink oyster scarf ($50) to come back into stock, why not buy a shucking knife ($25) from the epic pop-up company?
- After you’ve shucked a bunch of oysters, might as well move onto dessert. These Blackbird Doughnuts-branded kitchen shears ($5) are meant for sharing doughnuts (if you must...) but are also suitable for other kitchen needs.
- Scented candles ($17) from lobster company/restaurant James Hook: They don’t smell like lobsters, but they do smell like the ocean.
SAUCES AND CONDIMENTS
Hot sauce from Tawakal (and dinner, too)
One of the best hot sauces in town
Tawakal Halal Cafe’s story of rebirth is fairly well-known now; the popular Somali restaurant closed in 2011 and ultimately reopened after quite a long hiatus — seven years — moving from one East Boston address to another. The “new” Tawakal is better than ever, and it bottles its own hot sauce. Hot but not too hot, the habanero-and-mango concoction pairs especially well with Tawakal’s sambusas.
Tawakal isn’t currently selling the sauce directly on the web, but it’s an item that you can include in your delivery order via third-party sites like Uber Eats, where it’s priced at $9 for a five-ounce bottle. Order it while you order dinner: Try the sambusas, the tawakal plate (chapati strips in a spiced tomato sauce with a choice of meat), and the shaah (a comforting spiced tea).
And another hot sauce and dinner, this time from Singh’s
Roti, doubles, and Trinidadian heat
One of Dorchester’s beloved roti shops, Singh’s, makes its own fiery hot sauce, and it is an absolutely essential addition to the pantry of any local hot sauce lover. Like with Tawakal’s above, the only way to get the sauce aside from going to the restaurant is to order it as part of a delivery meal. Singh’s is currently working with Grubhub, and a sizable jar of the sauce goes for $10.99. Also order the doubles (spicy and sweet curried chickpeas sandwiched between two pieces of fried dough) and one of the roti dinners.
- From March 19 to 22 — and probably the following weekend, too; stay tuned — Somerville’s Buenas is delivering meal kits of frozen empanadas, frozen empanada dough, and/or sauces by the half pint. You must get the pebre, a spicy Chilean table sauce, and put it on everything. Including all the empanadas you’re going to order.
- Have you tried Villa Mexico Cafe’s special black salsa yet? It ships nationwide and comes in three different jar sizes (four, 12, or 32 ounces) for $5, $10, and $15 respectively.
- Somerville’s Tasting Counter sells a range of small-batch pantry items made with local ingredients; the lacto-fermented hot sauce ($15 for a five-ounce bottle) is a highlight, or try a sampler of three different vinegars ($30).