Welcome back to AM Intel, a round-up of mini news bites to kick off the week.
Sky Dining Over Boston Is on Hold for Now
Last month, two local companies revealed a collaboration to host sky dining events in — or above — the Boston area in the near future, serving dinner parties 180 feet up, suspended by crane. The companies acknowledged at the time that COVID-19-related regulations on outdoor gathering sizes could impact the plans for their Dine Cloud Nine business, but the floating dinner parties could potentially seat fewer than the full capacity of 22 people.
But last week, Corinthian Events co-CEO Courtney Church updated the Boston Business Journal on Corinthian and Perfect Parties Entertainment Group’s plans: It’s a no-go for now, at least within Boston proper. A Boston city official reportedly informed Church that the parties would be subject to the current reservation size requirement for restaurants — no more than six people per table. Hoisting only six people up in the air for a dinner party meant to seat 22 wouldn’t be a solid financial move.
The requirement is the same statewide, although it’s possible other cities or towns might interpret Dine Cloud Nine differently; if viewed as an outdoor gathering space, not a restaurant, perhaps it would be viable, as outdoor gatherings are currently allowed to have up to 50 people (recently rolled back from 100). Still, part of the appeal is the view, and Church expressed uncertainty to the BBJ that it would make sense to try to move forward outside of Boston, having previously named spots like Fenway Park or the Lawn on D as dream venues. In any case, the project isn’t necessarily over forever, with Church hopeful to make it happen eventually.
Massachusetts isn’t set to move into the next stage of the reopening process until there’s a cure or effective treatment for COVID-19, so it will likely be quite some time before the relaxation of regulations for reservation size and gathering size.
America Runs on Fewer Dunkin’ Locations
Lots of recent updates from the Canton-based chain formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts. For one, Dunkin’ is closing 800 of its United States locations — about 8% of its locations in the country — as “part of a real estate portfolio rationalization.” This number includes the 450 closures of locations inside Speedway gas stations that were already announced earlier this summer. 350 international locations may also close.
Despite the closures, Dunkin’ is forging ahead with some new initiatives, including a cereal collaboration with Post and Dunkin’-branded dog toys with dog company Bark. The cereals, available in caramel macchiato and mocha latte, have a small amount of caffeine. The toys, available for a limited time, are modeled after a Dunkin’ coffee cup and Munchkins doughnut hole box. Customers can donate $12 to the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation for the coffee cup or $15 for the Munchkins; the foundation works to support children struggling with illness or hunger.
In Other News...
- Hampshire House Corp., which owns Cheers and 75 on Liberty, has reportedly sued three insurance companies in an attempt to recoup losses incurred due to COVID-19-related restaurant shutdowns. Other restaurants are also battling with insurance companies — including Legal Sea Foods, which has also filed a lawsuit — but it’s an uphill battle. As of 2006, insurance companies have blocked commercial property insurance policy holders from filing business interruption claims related to losses or damage caused by viral or bacterial outbreaks. It was a measure taken in the wake of the SARS epidemic of 2003.
- Boston Black Restaurant Month is now underway, an initiative launched by the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition, which has published a guide to Black-owned restaurants in Boston, encouraging diners to visit them in August (and beyond).
- On the heels of collaborating with chef Tim Maslow on a burrito pop-up called Seis Pies, the Hot Box and Mike & Patty’s team is working with Maslow again, this time on a vegan soft-serve pop-up called Fat Unicorn. It debuts at Hot Box in Somerville on August 10 and 11 with vanilla black tea almond soft-serve, guava sorbet, and several toppings. Watch Instagram for updates.
- Eater’s Guide to the World, a food-and-travel series produced by Eater and Vox Media Studios, will debut on the streaming service Hulu this November, narrated by Maya Rudolph. Each of seven episodes will invite viewers on a singular culinary quest in a specific destination, from Tijuana to Casablanca.
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