Welcome back to AM Intel, a round-up of mini news bites to kick off the day.
Rude Customers Are Causing Business Owners to Reevaluate Their Plans
Mashpee ice cream shop Polar Cave Ice Cream Parlour reopened for the season over the weekend with protocols in place to limit the risk of coronavirus spread, including a requirement that customers preorder an hour in advance. But the opening was short-lived, with owner Mark Lawrence closing the shop again to ponder the best way forward after angry customers didn’t follow the guidelines and verbally abused staff. One of Lawrence’s best employees, a 17-year-old girl, quit after her shift after facing language “you wouldn’t even [use] in a men’s locker room,” as Lawrence described it to Boston 25 News.
Lawrence isn’t the only one witnessing appalling customer behavior during the pandemic. Jennifer Lasala — founder of Jennifer Lee’s Bakery, a vegan, gluten-free, nut-free bakery with locations in Boston and Worcester — considered shutting down entirely, announcing in a May 4 Facebook post that she wasn’t sure she wanted to continue the business.
“I have worked so hard for almost 10 years with this bakery and unfortunately I don’t know if I want to do this anymore,” she wrote. “I work so hard to make everybody happy and it just doesn’t matter ... The amount of mean messages I received over this weekend is just too much and I just don’t know if I want to do this anymore. I think people don’t realize that I too am human. I worked so hard to build what we have, my working multiple jobs to afford it not paying myself still, and even now in a pandemic, I haven’t received even a cent in any grant money but here I am still going still trying to keep this dream alive and people are just so mean and just ripping me apart.”
After an outpouring of support from fans, Lasala posted an update a week later, saying that she’s “not going anywhere.”
Essex Seafood Heavily Damaged in Fire
One of the North Shore’s iconic seafood destinations, Essex Seafood, sustained “hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage” in a May 10 fire that broke out in the kitchen around 11 p.m., several hours after a busy Mother’s Day full of takeout orders.
“Thankfully no one was injured but there is extensive damage to the restaurant building,” the restaurant posted on Facebook. “We will keep you updated with next steps. We want to send a very heartfelt thank you for the amazing response by the Essex Fire Department, Essex Police Department, and everyone else involved, including the surrounding towns fire and safety crews.”
In Other News...
- Less than two weeks after the announcement of decades-old Allston rock venue Great Scott’s closure, breaking the heart of many a Bostonian, the landlord — who reportedly declined to renew Great Scott’s lease — is already trying to rent the space out to a restaurant or market. “Don’t miss this opportunity to take over a Boston landmark,” reads the somewhat insensitive real estate listing.
- While Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to release more information on or before May 18 about a multi-phase reopening process for Massachusetts businesses, including restaurants, Maine has released its own guidelines that may provide a glimpse of what’s to come. Here’s an extensive checklist with rules for employees as well as customers regarding distancing, wearing masks, contact tracing, and more. (Maine restaurants could reopen in June — preceded in mid-May by restaurants in several specific rural counties — with bars following in July or August.)
- WBUR catches up with chef and restaurateur Ana Sortun (Oleana, Sarma, Sofra) and some of her staff to discuss the challenges they’re facing during the pandemic. Sortun and business partners Cassie Piuma and Maura Kilpatrick were all recently announced as 2020 nominees for James Beard awards.
- Boston will not be allowing any large events to take place this summer. This includes food events like the annual Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl, an all-you-can-eat ice cream fundraiser that usually takes place in June. (It has been postponed until September.)
- Boston business owners — including Nia Grace of Darryl’s Corner Kitchen & Bar, Royal C. Smith of District 7 Tavern, Frank Poindexter of Wally’s Cafe, and more — have joined together to form the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition. Their mission: “to preserve the few gathering spaces for the city’s many black residents. ... The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted black communities at a disproportionate rate. ... As it stands, there are only eight black owned liquor licenses in the city of Boston. Unless a strategic response is implemented immediately, our businesses — neighborhood anchors that represent an iconic legacy of black entrepreneurship and community development in Boston — will be forced to close their doors forever.”
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