Sahr and Baindu Josiah-Faeduwor, the owners of Bintimani, a Sierra Leonean restaurant in Nubian Square and a pillar of Boston’s West African dining scene, have been evicted from their space inside Mr. G’s Plaza at 1127 Harrison Ave. A judge recently ruled in favor of their landlords, the Boston Real Estate Collaborative (BREC) — which moved to evict the Josiah-Faeduwors in August 2020 — and gave them 30 days to vacate the premises.
The decision comes after a months long legal battle between the Josiah-Faeduwors and BREC, which involved the landlord attempting to use a loophole in the state’s eviction moratorium to evict its tenants sooner than it otherwise would have been able to.
The Josiah-Faeduwors were able to hang on and stay in their space for half a year after receiving the initial Notice to Quit letter on August 28, but the judge’s decision, which was handed down on February 25, is final. The Josiah-Faeduwors, who have been nourishing people from Roxbury and beyond for more than 11 years, must leave the space they’ve called home since 2009.
After the judge’s ruling, Aiyah Josiah-Faeduwor, the Josiah-Faeduwors son, posted an insightful and heart-wrenching blog post about the circumstances of the eviction, and specifically the concept of “possession,” writing:
BREC was granted right to “possession” of the space my parents have spent more time in than our actual home. The place my little sister came after school, did homework in and slept in until late night when it was finally time to go home. The place I came to when I got my acceptance letter from MIT and watched my dad shed tears as he read it and swelled with pride. The place my brother celebrated the birth of my niece and goddaughter. This familial foundation as of today, is now in their possession, and we have 30 days to vacate from it.
But as one chapter ends, another begins — with help from Aiyah, Sahr and Baindu have secured a new space in Providence, RI (326 Westminster St.), and they plan to reopen Bintimani in July.
The new restaurant will be more spacious than the old one — Bintimani’s old kitchen and dining room were both quite small — and will offer a larger menu in addition to staples like spicy okra sauce, whole fried tilapia, crain crain (a dark green stew made of mallow leaves), and foo foo (a sticky dough ball made from cassava meant for dipping, which is typical of various cuisines from West Africa and the Caribbean). The Josiah-Faeduwors also plan to apply for a liquor license.
Bintimani is an excellent restaurant, and Rhode Islanders are lucky that it’s moving to their capital. But Boston’s dining scene will be poorer for its loss.