Welcome back to AM Intel, a round-up of mini news bites to kick off the week.
While Massachusetts and the rest of the country move through various reopening stages for businesses as the pandemic continues, some cities and states are backtracking as cases spike. But even if not required, some businesses are making their own decision to reclose based on customer behavior.
Here in Boston, the Sam Adams taproom next to Faneuil Hall (60 State St., downtown Boston), which debuted at the end of January, had reopened its outdoor roof deck in June after the state’s phase two (outdoor dining and more) took effect. Last week, the taproom announced on Facebook that “upon further reflection,” the patio was closed again “due to the influx of out-of-state visitors from COVID-19 hotspots.”
Instead of outdoor seating for onsite consumption, the taproom is currently sticking with contactless pickup of beer and merchandise, available Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Masks required.
Meanwhile in Rhode Island, Brickley’s Ice Cream has temporarily closed the smaller of its two locations following abusive behavior by angry customers toward the shop’s mostly teenaged staff. Shop ownership later had the chance to talk with two of the customers in question, who apologized, but as the situation was “one of many,” the Wakefield location will remain closed for now for the safety of customers and staff. The larger location in Narragansett remains open for walk-up, outdoor service.
It seems ice cream shops have been particularly susceptible to bad behavior around New England, with Cape Cod shop Polar Cave Ice Cream Parlour quickly closing back up after its May reopening as verbally abusive customers drove a 17-year-old employee to quit. The shop later reopened — although it has continued to experience rudeness from some customers. Herrell’s in Northampton has also posted about the abuse its staff has received in recent weeks.
Boston-area restaurants have been closing at an alarming rate this spring and summer, most of them explicitly citing the pandemic as a major factor, if not the major factor, in their closures. But new restaurants continue to arrive, too. A few coming attractions on the docket:
Michael Serpa — chef and owner of Select Oyster Bar and Grand Tour in Boston’s Back Bay, as well as the soon-to-open Atlántico in Boston’s South End — has another new project in the works. Little Rose is set to open sometime next year in the multi-level downtown space that housed high-end Japanese restaurant Kamakura (150 State St.). Serpa will make use of each level differently: There will reportedly be a counter-service burrito shop at street level, a full-service Mexican restaurant on the main dining level, and a rooftop tequila and mezcal bar with its own name, Rosita. Stay tuned for more.
In Brookline’s Coolidge Corner, two new food businesses are in the works. Rue de Saveur could open as soon as August at 305 Harvard St.; the European-style market and tasting room will feature oils and vinegars as well as whiskey. It’s the first Massachusetts location for Germany-based market vomFass.
At 318 Harvard St. inside the Arcade Building, BYOB Italian restaurant Cobble could also open in mid-August, functioning as a reservation-only, semi-private space with two small dining rooms and food cooked in a commercial kitchen offsite. Owner Emily Vena was the longtime chef at La Morra in Brookline Village. Cobble’s menu will rotate weekly, and it will be open two nights a week to start. “Cobble at Home” meals for two to three people are already available for pickup and delivery.
In Other News...
- Dorchester-based spice, chutney, and relish company Lyndigo Spice now has an official cookbook. Owner Celeste Croxton-Tate, a Roxbury native and longtime veteran of the Boston Police Department, published The Lyndigo Spice Cookbook: Full of Flavor with a Spicy Attitude, a Culinary Memoir this month. The signed cookbook is available to purchase on the Lyndigo Spice website (as well as Amazon), as well as products such as gingery blueberry fruit spread, roasted mango relish, spice rub, and more.
- A Central Square, Cambridge, parking lot will become “Starlight Square” from late July through October, featuring a variety of free arts programming, food from Central Kitchen’s Gary Strack, and more.
- The owner of Nathan Bill’s Bar and Restaurant in Springfield has removed a dress code sign that has been up for about seven years following a protest organized by community organization Pioneer Valley Project, the NAACP Springfield, city Councilor Tracye Whitfield, and City Council President Justin Hurst. Protesters deemed the sign exclusionary toward Black people. Owner Robert Gossman apologized, removed the sign, and pledged $6,500 to pay for a new Black Lives Matter mural for downtown Springfield.
- Reusable bags are allowed in grocery stores again. In the earlier days of the pandemic, a mandate regarding grocery store safety included a temporary ban on reusable bags (and temporarily allowed stores to offer single-use plastic bags, even in the state’s 139 communities that had previously banned them).
- Malden restaurant Fresco’s Roast Beef & Seafood, Chelmsford restaurant Jimmy’s Pizza Too, and Christopher’s Restaurant in Reading are among many small local businesses who were allegedly conned by a Newburyport-based bookkeeper who has been accused of stealing millions of dollars that were supposed to go toward state and federal tax payments.
- The 230-year-old Vermont-based King Arthur Flour — which sells quite a lot more than flour — has rebranded to King Arthur Baking Company.
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