Welcome to the fall 2020 edition of the Eater Boston restaurant closings roundup; this page is updated regularly, with the most recent updates at the top, highlighting restaurants that have bid farewell to the Boston area in recent weeks (and some that have announced an upcoming closure but haven’t yet closed).
Note that due to the pandemic, many restaurants have closed “indefinitely” or “until further notice,” without announcing an official closure, but only restaurants that are confirmed to be permanently closed are included in this roundup.
The summer 2020 closure archive is here, including the Boston location of the Fours, the Cambridge location of the Friendly Toast, Bull McCabe’s, the original Anna’s Taqueria location, Taranta, and more, with most restaurants citing COVID-19 as a factor, if not the main factor, in their closure.
December 29, 2020: Allston Loses a Nightlife Hub, Somerville Loses a Music Venue, and the South End Loses a French Brasserie
The city has lost another popular nightlife spot, this time on Harvard Avenue in Allston. Wonder Bar, which was known for its DJ nights and basement stand-up comedy club (where Thunder Bar, perhaps the city’s best open mic, thrived for years) has shuttered.
Also in Allston, popular Vietnamese restaurant Pho Viet’s closed its kiosk inside the Super 88 food hall after 14 years in operation. Don’t worry though, because the restaurant is on the verge of reopening at 1022 Commonwealth Ave. in the space formerly occupied by Taqueria El Barrio.
A Newbury Street restaurant known for its upscale comfort food has closed. Cafeteria, which specialized in burgers, meatloaf, braised short ribs and the like, shuttered in November. Also in Back Bay, chocolate chain Max Brenner closed its Boylston Street location.
Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale co-owner Frankie Stavrianopoulos announced recently in a Facebook post that the pub was closing its doors for good, writing: “Although it’s closing time, I am beyond confident that Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale will be remembered by many, and will be the embodiment of Old World Boston in a New World, forever.”
Crush Pizza, which had been slinging Neapolitan pies Downtown since 2013, also closed, though its Quincy shop remains open.
According to an Instagram post by the restaurant, the Kitchen Cafe closed on November 20. “We are sad to say that Covid has claimed another small business,” the restaurant posted on Instagram. “It’s been a fantastic 4 years and we want to thank all our customers for all the fun and experiences.” The Leather District spot was known for its breakfast sandwiches and various coffee offerings.
A Polish restaurant that had been in operation on Dorchester Avenue for nearly two decades closed its doors for good in November. Cafe Polonia, which was known for its blood sausages, potato pancakes, and pierogi — and which road-weary traveler Guy Fieri once visited on his never-ending feeding frenzy — was located near Andrew station.
Award-winning Thai restaurant House of Siam closed its Tremont Street outpost in October, though its Columbus Avenue location remains open.
Also in the South End, Gaslight, which has been operating for 15 years, and was at the vanguard of the neighborhood’s movement toward French and French-inspired brasseries, closed in November. “Gaslight has been a Boston restaurant institution for 15 years and with our lease expiring, we have decided to close our doors and look to the future,” said Seth Woods, chef and founder of The Aquitaine Group, said in a press release.
A popular Bruins bar named after the most popular Bruin in franchise history (Bobby Orr, who wore the number four on his sweater) closed for good in November. “I never thought I would see this day, that it would come down to this,” Fours co-owner Peter Colton told the Boston Globe. “Never in my wildest dreams. Never even imagined it or thought it would come down to a situation like this.” The Fours relied on Garden events to generate business; no fans in attendance at Bruins and Celtics games, along with no concerts, meant no business for the Fours. The city has lost one of its great sports bars.
POWDER HOUSE SQUARE
A Somerville ice cream shop specializing in ice cream sandwiches called Frozen Hoagies (864 Broadway) closed near the Tufts campus in October, but its Winchester shop remains open.
A Moroccan restaurant called Moroccan Hospitality operated by sisters Amina and Nouzha Ghallay closed in the middle of November. “Before COVID, it was crazy busy,” Nouzha Ghallay told the Somerville Journal at the time of the closure. “In March, we had all these reservations, but as soon as COVID hit us, people started canceling them. After March, the business was going down, down, down — sinking little by little — and we never recovered from that.”
Also in Somerville (on Highland Avenue between Spring Hill and Winter Hill), weird, beloved music and performance venue Once Lounge and Ballroom officially shuttered at the end of November. In a statement posted to the venue’s website, founder JJ Gonson wrote: “...we cannot make ends meet. COVID has made it impossible to make the kind of money we need to occupy a space of that size. The insurance, the electricity ... I know you get it.”
A south shore icon known for its comfort food — think liver and onions, fried chicken, fish and chips, and mac and cheese — closed in late November after a 40 year run. The upside: Grumpy White’s wasn’t a casualty of COVID-19, owner Bob White just retired. The downside: No one gets to eat at Grumpy White’s anymore.
Po’ Boys & Pies decided to close its Lafayette Street storefront due to rising COVID-19 cases, though it plans to reevaluate its business model during the winter, and hopes to begin popping up again (which is how it all began in the first place) come spring.
A barbecue joint on Moody Street has closed. Bison County dished up brisket and pulled pork (and much more) in Waltham for 25 years.
October 5, 2020: Founder Departs Oisa Ramen, Allston Loses a New Hainanese Chicken Spot, and More Closings
Hainanese chicken rice restaurant Chic Chick — which opened in late March, shortly after restaurants had to shut down dine-in service due to the pandemic — is now closed, posting a goodbye announcement on social media on October 3:
Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have decided to close our shop. We want to say THANK YOU for the overwhelming support we had from you guys! It has been a pleasure to serve you! THANK YOU for trusting us and try something new! We know it’s hard to come out your comfort zone! People thought we were crazy to open our doors in the midst of a pandemic. We tried, we fought, and we have no regret! Thank you Boston! Chic Chick Out!
The restaurant replaced Chinese restaurant Iron Kitchen at 164 Brighton Ave.; the two restaurants had the same ownership but different management, a Chic Chick representative told Eater in March.
Chic Chick specialized in a chicken-and-rice dish popular throughout Southeast Asia, particularly in Singaporean and Malaysian cuisine, where it was introduced by emigrants from Hainan in China. The typical preparation involves poached chicken, seasoned rice, a chile sauce, and garnishes such as cucumber.
“The goal was to bring delicious Singaporean food to the Boston area, so people can experience the wonderful taste of this local Hainan food,” the Chic Chick representative said in March.
In an August conversation with Eater, the representative noted that cash flow had been difficult at the new restaurant due to the 100% reliance on takeout and delivery: Pickup orders were low, she said, especially given that many Bostonians are still avoiding public transportation. Delivery was increasing over time, though, and an early loyal customer base helped the Chic Chick team keep their spirits up.
“We took a risk to open the restaurant in the midst of the pandemic,” the representative said in August. “We are extremely lucky that we were met with nothing but warm welcomes.”
Moe Kuroki, the founder of one of Boston’s best ramen shops, Oisa Ramen, announced last week that she is stepping down from her tiny Financial District storefront (2 Broad St.), effective October 1, although Oisa will continue to operate for a bit longer — perhaps until the end of 2020 — with Kuroki’s sous chef Manuel Castillo and prep chef Marcelo Pedrosa at the helm until then. Patrick McQuaid, general manager of Tiki Rock next door, will manage the space.
“At first, even though it was difficult to adjust, I took it as a blessing to be able to spend more time with my family,” Kuroki told Boston.com, describing the impact of the pandemic on business. “But I knew after a few months in, there is no more going back to what my life used to be. That I need to embrace some major changes.”
The Oisa noodle shop opened at the beginning of 2018, featuring several types of ramen, including a vegan option, the smoky shoyu, as well as a tonkotsu ramen, which originated in Kuroki’s hometown of Fukuoka, Japan. The debut of the shop came after several years of ramen pop-ups throughout the Boston area, in which Kuroki built up an eager fanbase.
Kuroki will continue to post her own updates — including potential future pop-up information — on the @oisaramen Instagram account, while the team continuing to run the Broad Street storefront will post pertinent updates at @oisaramenbroadstreet. For now, it’s open for takeout as well as limited indoor and outdoor seating Tuesday through Saturday.
In other downtown Boston news, the restaurant formerly known as Zuma — the longtime Tex-Mex spot at Faneuil Hall, not the flashy new sushi import from London in Back Bay — is now officially closed following its temporary pandemic-related shutdown in March. (It had rebranded to Mezcala Tex-Mex Grill in early 2020 following an apparent settlement with the international sushi chain.)
General manager Steve Harnish reflected on the closure on Facebook, noting that “it took a worldwide pandemic to kill it, but it’s officially over. Just was too hard to see a path forward. It was a good run.” The restaurant was open for a little over 20 years.
Local bakery chain Swissbäkers broke a lot of hearts when it abruptly closed in December 2019, but it managed to reopen a few weeks later, starting with its spacious Allston location (168 Western Ave.) and later reopening in Reading as well. The North Station reopening — it had debuted at 1 Nashua St., West End, in late 2018 — got delayed by the pandemic, and now that location will not reopen at all, per an announcement on Instagram.
“Although we’d hoped to reopen swissbäkers North Station, the pandemic has taken a dramatic toll on commuter traffic, so we have decided to close swissbäkers North Station, permanently,” the announcement states. “To all our amazing North Station guests, we will miss you dearly!”
The Allston and Reading locations continue to operate (with various pandemic-related restrictions), as well as catering and wholesale operations. Helene and Thomas Stohr founded Swissbäkers back in 1998, building a following on the farmers market circuit before opening their first storefront in 2006 and eventually expanding to several other locations, including a now-closed Harvard Square spot.
September 28, 2020: A Back Bay Tavern, a Brookline Taqueria, and More Closings
Post 390 (406 Stuart St.) — part of the Himmel Hospitality Group (Grill 23, Harvest) — has announced its closure after over a decade. A statement attributed to the restaurant group’s owner and president, Chris Himmel, cites “the current pandemic causing unprecedented uncertainty and change in our industry.”
Himmel’s announcement notes that the group is hanging onto the space and “exploring new and exciting ideas” for its future. It’s a large, multi-story space that Post 390 divided into a more casual “tavern” downstairs and a more upscale main dining room upstairs; there was also private dining space available.
For the bulk of its existence, Post 390 marketed itself as a farm-to-table restaurant, but in an era when many local restaurants define themselves as such, Post 390 ended up rebranding a bit a year ago, sticking with the local sourcing but describing itself as an “American steak and seafood grill.” Downstairs in the tavern, customers ate charcuterie, raw bar items, pizzas, and burgers. Executive chef Nick Deutmeyer ran the kitchen and had been with the restaurant since the beginning.
Sibling restaurants Grill 23 and Harvest remain in operation; Grill 23 is currently seating diners indoors and offering delivery, while Harvest has indoor and outdoor seating as well as takeout.
On the border of Brookline and Boston, near BU, Taqueria el Barrio has closed (1022 Commonwealth Ave.). Cofounder Alex Sáenz announced the closure on social media, writing, in part: “It’s official. Permanently closed. We lost our beautiful little taqueria. We tried. I’m sorry.”
He also noted, though, that there are “some possibilities to keep the taqueria going and we are exploring those now.”
Taqueria el Barrio opened last summer, serving Northwest Mexican-style tacos and more. Some of its menu items have been appearing at Bisq during the pandemic. (The Taqueria el Barrio team is also behind Bisq in Inman Square and Bisq’s offshoot at Time Out Market Boston.)
PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
Acclaimed fine-dining destination Birch, an intimate tasting menu-focused restaurant (at least in pre-COVID times), will close on October 19, per an announcement from chef and owner Benjamin Sukle. Located at 200 Washington St., Birch seats just 18 and has made several pivots during the pandemic, such as introducing a casual takeout menu and adding outdoor seats, but it’s not enough.
“Once the weather cools (it is still perfectly warm out, y’all) and outdoor dining dwindles,” wrote Sukle, “Birch can not survive another shift. Eating indoors is a scary, last-resort situation .... The combination of Covid-19 and HVAC is like introducing malaria to the mosquito. This is my choice and I don’t fault anyone else during these times who must continue to choose. The moral gray area we are wading through should have been far less dire if at any point this virus had been met with precaution, economic relief, heeding scientific advice and consistent leadership.”
Birch’s younger and larger sibling, Oberlin, will continue to operate.