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South End Water Main Break Causes an Estimated $1 Million in Damage to Cinquecento

Plus, there’s new Mexican food near Symphony Hall and new Hunan food in Cleveland Circle, and more news

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A restaurant interior with dark wooden surfaces and lots of bottles of Campari displayed
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Welcome back to AM Intel, a round-up of mini news bites to kick off the day.

South End Italian Restaurant Badly Damaged

On the night of April 14, a water main break flooded Harrison Avenue in Boston’s South End, causing heavy damage to numerous businesses; the area is home to art galleries, boutique clothing stores, and more. Italian restaurant Cinquecento, located at 500 Harrison Ave., suffered an estimated $1 million in damage, with the kitchen, offices, and events space ruined by several feet of water.

Jeff Gates, partner at Cinquecento’s parent company, the Aquitaine Group, told that the restaurant might not be back up and running until August or September. Given the current pandemic circumstances, Cinquecento — like every Massachusetts restaurant — was not fully up and running anyway, but it had just started offering takeout and delivery as of April 6. Now, the Aquitaine Group has to work with its insurance company regarding the damage, on top of all the existing COVID-19-related hurdles.

Restaurants Keep Opening

It’s a strange time to attempt to open a restaurant, to be sure, but there are still some newcomers joining the scene.

Casual Mexican restaurant Sombrero Chiquito opened a little over a month ago at 197 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, near Symphony Hall, with early visitors praising the carnitas burrito, the plantains, rice bowls, and huge portions. Delivery is available via several third-party platforms, including DoorDash and Grubhub, or call (857) 265-3254 for takeout.

My Happy Hunan Kitchen recently took over the Feng Shui space in Brighton’s Cleveland Circle (1926 Beacon St., Boston), serving spicy cuisine from Hunan, China, courtesy of a team of chefs, Wei Ding and De Wu. Ding hails from Changsha, Hunan’s capital, where he was executive chef at a five-star hotel. Over the past 10 years, he opened his own restaurant in Changsha and expanded it to 15 locations around China before moving to America. Wu is also from Changsha; he came to Boston in 2016 and worked at Sumiao Hunan Kitchen in Kendall Square. Direct online ordering is available for takeout orders, and delivery is available via third-party platforms such as DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats.

Up north, Sina’s Kabob House is now open at 150 Main St., Peabody, serving falafel, kabobs, pizza, kabob pizza, and more. It’s offering takeout for lunch and dinner daily: Check the menu, call (978) 587-3098, and pay by credit card over the phone to order. “We decided to go forward with our opening during the pandemic,” the restaurant posted on Facebook. “Please be patient with us as we are here to serve you fresh food.” The family-run restaurant is named for “a loving son, a loving sibling, a loyal friend, and a loving boyfriend with a big heart” who died three years ago, shortly before his 25th birthday. “His memories will always be with us, and it breaks our hearts that he won’t be here to make us laugh. We wanted to keep his legacy by naming our restaurant after him ... We hope to make him happy and proud because this restaurant is all we have to show him how much we love him and how much we miss him by seconds.”

In Other News...

  • Brookline is now requiring anyone out in public, starting April 17, to cover their mouth and nose with some kind of face covering.
  • The Allston Trader Joe’s (199 N. Harvard St., Boston) closed for a day earlier this week for additional cleaning after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
  • A twenty-year-old and two teens have been charged with stealing the tip jar from Santia’s Bakery in Jamaica Plain (3381 Washington St., Boston); they were allegedly spotted in the act by police on patrol and arrested while fleeing.
  • The Massachusetts Distillers Alliance is asking for signatures for a letter to Massachusetts legislators seeking excise tax relief for alcohol used in the formulation of hand sanitizer, direct-to-consumer in-state shipping of Massachusetts-distilled spirits to Massachusetts addresses via third-party carriers, and an expansion of the bill temporarily letting restaurants sell beer and wine with takeout and delivery to also include cocktails.
  • The Paycheck Protection Program, a federal relief effort aimed at assisting restaurants and other small businesses affected by the pandemic, is about to run out of money — less than two weeks after implementation of the $349 billion program. “Small businesses” such as Ruth’s Hospitality Group, which operates over 140 fancy Ruth’s Chris Steak House locations, and sandwich chain Potbelly, which has nearly 500 locations, have received millions of dollars in loans through the program already.

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